Music
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FEATURED ALUMNI

MEGAN COONEY
BM in Music Education and BA in Subject Matter Education '11

Megan received her Bachelors Degree in music education grades K-12 instrumental, choral, and general music from Rowan University in New Jersey. In May of 2014 Megan completed her Masters Degree in wind conducting at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She also studied classical percussion, performing regularly during her time at Rowan and UMass.

Dr. Michael John TrottaWhile at Rowan University she received the W. Clarke Pfleeger Award for Musical Excellence. During her time at UMass, she was nominated for the UMass Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest award given at the university for teaching faculty or graduate students. She has held professional teaching and staff appointments with Cherokee High School, Marlton, NJ, Shawnee High School, Medford NJ, Pitman High School, Pitman, NJ, Washington Township High School, Washington Township, NJ, and has led numerous secondary, collegiate, youth, and community ensembles.

Megan currently resides in the neighborhood of Lincoln Square in Chicago, Illinois where she lives with her cat Clara Schumann. Megan subs regularly with the Chicago Brass Band percussion section. During her free time, she loves to cook, watch sports (GO PATRIOTS!), practice, read, study scores and visits downtown to watch live music, dance, theater and art.

Q & A

What kind of work are you doing now?

I am currently the Director of Bands and Instrumental Music Department at Luther North College Prep, Pilgrim Lutheran School, St. John’s Lutheran School, and Lutheran Unity School located in Chicago Illinois. I direct the high school jazz band, pep band, concert band, elementary band, and teach beginning and advanced private lessons on all wind/percussion instruments grades 4-12. I am a faculty member of the Luther North Fine Arts Academy and also serve on the school’s recruitment committee.

What is it like to have a successful career in music?

It is really nice to be able to pay my bills and own real furniture. I love the fact that I can afford to live in the city of Chicago without roommates and enjoy taking advantage of all the city has to offer; there is no better place for an artist to live!

How did the Rowan University Music Department help you with reaching your goals?

One of the biggest influences in my life and career is Dean Witten the Director of Percussion Studies at Rowan University. I began studying with Dean when I was 16 years old attending a local New Jersey high school. I eventually went on to study classical percussion with Dean for 8 years. Dean Witten is a father figure to me and taught me everything I know about music before anyone else. I owe a large part of my success to him!

Dr. John Pastin also took the time to teach me everything he could about conducting, which was something that I took interest in during my sophomore year at Rowan. Dr. Pastin shared with me everything he knew about wind band repertoire, rehearsing, gesture, and programming music of artistic merit. Both Dean and Dr. Pastin prepared me to take auditions for graduate school straight out of my undergraduate degree. I was accepted into multiple graduate programs in both conducting and percussion performance with teaching assistantships.

Rowan University’s superior musical education all comes down to the time that the faculty invests in their students. These are not just teachers but will remain your lifelong mentors. Without the amazing opportunities that Dean Witten and Dr. Pastin provided for me I would be a much different musician, person, and educator. Rowan University’s Department of Music allowed me to discover my potential and focus my skills for the future.

What advice do you have for current music students?

Be prepared to hold any job or jobs that will prevent you from being homeless. Be prepared to live like you are homeless even with a job. Stay in close contact with all of your friends you are definitely going to need their help! Listen to your mentors because they always know best. Take risks everyday, laugh often, be willing to travel anywhere at any time, and have a good attitude about things. Be good at what you do! Always participate in things that remind you that you are an artist because once you lose yourself as an artist it’s game over. Teaching music in a school setting does not give you job security anymore. Job security as a teacher is just as uncertain as being a performer for a living so follow your gut instinct always. Finally, the most important piece of advice I can give is always be prepared, kind, and willing to help others because you never know who might be around.

www.luthernorthcollegeprep.org



DR. MICHAEL JOHN TROTTA
BM '02, MM '08

Composer, Michael John Trotta (b.1978) is a frequent guest conductor and clinician with a wide variety of ensembles throughout the country. His compositions are performed all over the world.

Dr. Michael John TrottaHe earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from Louisiana State University. This Memorial Day, will conduct concert of his own compositions entitled Music of Stillness, Hope and Peace at Carnegie Hall. His forthcoming CD project Mystical Voices: where heaven and earth shall blend is in production with a release date set for 2015.

Dr. Trotta is currently the Director of Choral Activities, Music Department Coordinator, and Assistant Professor of Music at Virginia Wesleyan College. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife Rachel, a writer, artist and educator a living reminder of the M.C. Richards quote, “All of the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.”

 

 

Q & A

What kind of work are you doing now?

In the broadest sense, I have the privilege of helping people to discover that music has the power to allow people to experience the extraordinary in the present moment. As a composer, conductor, and educator, I get to take part in each step of the process creative process from inspiration to rehearsal through the performance and recording.

What is it like to have a successful career in music?

My musical life consists of my daily writing schedule of my own new compositions, six weekly rehearsals with my two choirs at Virginia Wesleyan, overseeing the music education classes and the music department, managing the
business aspects of being a composer and conductor, as well as frequent appearances as a guest conductor and clinician with choirs all over the country. Perhaps the most important thing for me to remember is that as much as I love being a musician, it is the rest of my life: family, friends, study, and reflection that gives me the energy to be successful in my career.

How did the Rowan University Music Department help you with reaching your goals?

I was very fortunate to have wonderful mentors throughout my time with the Rowan University Music Department. I had once in a lifetime opportunities like singing at Carnegie Hall, touring Europe as a tenor soloists, having a composition lesson with Sir David Wilcocks, and conducting with composer Morten Laridsen at the piano that shaped my overall musicianship. Of great importance was my time with the full time faculty themselves. Dr. Eugene Simpson, Dr. Lourin Plant, and Dr. Z. Randall Stroope all significantly impacted my future work as a choral conductor. Jon Garrison, Metropolitan Opera Tenor, was my primary voice teacher. I greatly enjoyed my theory studies with Dr. Robert Rawlins and score study with Sal Scarpa. Dr. Lili Levinowitz provided me with a solid music education background and the Rowan Education department is second to none. But perhaps the most significant goal that Rowan helped me achieve was finding a way to engage the community in inspiring musical performances through instilling in me a desire to be a great musician.

What advice do you have for current music students?

The little things you do everyday craft who you will become as a musician and a person. Do a little bit everyday, and before you know it, those little bits may very well add up to something extraordinary. It may not feel like it at the time, but practicing piano scales, preparing for a sight-singing test, studying for a music history exam, and memorizing you pieces for juries are the building blocks for making an impact in the community as a musician. After repeating these simple tasks over an extended period of time, they eventually become habits, the habits that enable you to wake up one day and realize that you have become who you have always wanted to be: a person who loves music so fully and completely that it ignites others to find the music within them, and share it with the world.

www.mjtrotta.com




JONATHAN BARNES
BM
‘06

Jonathan Barnes is a versatile performer and educator. He currently performs with the prestigious U.S. Navy Band Commodores in Washington, D.C. Born and raised just outside of Baltimore, he was active in the New York and Philadelphia music scenes before enlisting in the U.S. Navy.

In addition to his busy schedule with the Commodores, Jonathan's work as a freelance trumpet player has enabled him to share the stage with artists such as John Fedchock, John Swana, Bobby Sanabria, Candido Camero, Bernadette Peters, Simone, Ruben Blades, Larry Harlow, Seneca Black, Marcus Belgrave, Bootsie Barnes, Denis Diblasio, and George Rabbai. Jonathan has performed at New York venues such as Lincoln Center, the Jazz Standard, Le Poisson Rouge, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Symphony Space, FB Lounge, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Manhattan Center, SOB's, and The Cutting Room, along with venues in Philadelphia such as the Kimmel Center and Chris' Jazz Cafe. He has also performed at the Verona Jazz Festival, the Telluride Jazz Celebration, and the Cape May Jazz Festival.

In 2009 Jonathan received a Master of Music degree in Jazz Performance from Manhattan School of Music. His teachers there included Scott Wendholt, Jon Faddis, Garry Dial, Phil Markowitz, David Liebman, Steve Slagle, and Justin DiCioccio.

Jonathan is passionate about sharing his love of music with students of all ages and is currently a contributor on The Trumpet Workshop, an educational website geared towards jazz trumpet players. Jonathan has presented master classes, taught big bands at the middle and high school levels, and worked with summer jazz camps. From 2009 to 2011, he served as a member of the adjunct faculty at Rowan University teaching music appreciation and music theory.

Q & A

What kind of work are you doing now?

I am currently serving as a musician in the Navy Band Commodores in Washington D.C. The Commodores are the premier big band of the United States Navy, and are stationed at the historic Washington Navy Yard. I also freelance around the D.C. metro area, and occasionally make it back up to the Philadelphia area for work.

What is it like to have a successful career in music?

It's a dream come true! I remember as a junior and senior in high school I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in college and beyond. I had two options: math or music. Somehow I chose music, and jazz performance at that! My parents were very supportive and I had some great teachers along the way; however, I knew that it would be difficult to make a steady living as a full-time musician. Being a full-time freelancer was a ton of fun, but it came with quite a bit of anxiety about money! Eventually, I was able to win the job with the Navy Band and now I do that full-time and freelance on the side. It's a thrill to wake up every day and know that I get to practice, perform, and write music, AND get paid a steady salary and benefits to do just that!

How did the Rowan University Music Department help you with reaching your goals?

First of all, Bryan Appleby-Wineberg saw potential in me even though I had a lot of embouchure problems. If it wasn't for his vision and support, I never would have been accepted as a music student. Second, Rowan offered two one-hour private lessons per week for jazz performance majors: one classical and one jazz. That was integral in helping me to become as versatile as possible. A lot of music schools don't offer that sort of opportunity for jazz majors. George Rabbai was another huge influence. He opened up the world of improvisation to me in a whole new light by encouraging me to transcribe the types of players that would help me learn the language. Finally, Rowan offered a large variety of ensembles, through which I was able to further learn how to play in those differing musical styles. Each ensemble director was able to push me to become a better musician: Denis DiBlasio, George Rabbai, John Pastin, Sal Scarpa, Tyrone Breuninger. The best asset of Rowan music has always been its faculty.

What advice do you have for current music students?

This is very cliche, but true! Follow your dreams. It really is worth it, because if you truly want to do something in music, you can make it happen. There will be obstacles, there will be setbacks; however, the joy of being able to work in a field that excites you is worth it. For some advice that is more specific to performance majors, I'll paraphrase George Rabbai: There is always room for good players. I take this to mean that if you do all you can to become the best possible musician that you can be, work will open up for you. It may take time, but it'll happen.