NYSSMA Program Returns for Student Musicians


Nanuet HS NYSSMA students performed on Saturday, Nov. 20, along with other students from the county.

Whether it be academic, athletic, or artistic, many students and parents have missed interesting community events during the pandemic. Now, things are looking up, and many music students have rejoiced to see the return of New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) festivals such as Area All-State, All-County, and All-State.

NYSSMA festivals provide an opportunity for student musicians to show off all of their hard work to fellow students from across the county, or even across the state. Music is sent to be practiced a few weeks before the festival, and then students spend a couple of days practicing together, meeting new people and working with a guest conductor.

“Events like this give students another way to experience music; it motivates students to continue to practice and work hard, and it’s fun to meet student-musicians like you from other schools,” said Dr. Mark Skaba, director of the high school music department. 

According to Mr. Skaba, 19 students from grades 10-12 were sent and they are in various music ensembles. 

“Their hard work during normal school hours has really contributed to their success in these events,” he said. 

The Nanuet school district’s music program has truly gone above and beyond, with multiple students having been selected for NYSSMA festivals every year.

“It’s a mix of a lot of things – a great music staff, dedicated students, and a community that supports us,” said Dr. Skaba. 

Students agree that these musical festivals strengthen bonds, both between schools and between fellow students in their own schools. 

“One of my favorite things about these events has to be meeting all the other musicians,” said Daniel Nyamollo, a junior cellist selected for Area All-State. “It’s always a great opportunity to make new friends, hear how their orchestral experiences have been, and even learn some new things that could help me get better.”

Senior Hannah Lieberman, who has been selected for the All-State chorus, said her favorite part of All-County and Area All-State is the sense of community. 

“When we are all on that bus together going to these events, it’s always so exciting,” she said. “I get to hang out with my friends for a whole day and meet new people who have similar interests as me.”

Student improvement stems not only from opportunities to attend music festivals, but also from the continual support of their loved ones, according to Nyamollo. 

“My constant practice outside of orchestra at home is definitely a reason for my constant growth and success with the cello,” said Nyamollo. “I believe that in anything you do, the extra work you put in will always put you ahead of the pack. My parents had constantly told me this when it came to studying, so applying this to orchestra was easy, due to the fact that I enjoy playing the cello.”

Though students are often self-motivated, being guided by parents and teachers allows them to improve even further in musical endeavors, according to Lieberman.

“The biggest factor for my improvement and growth in music would be the support from all my peers, family, friends, and especially our teachers,” said Lieberman. “Through their encouragement of practicing and trying new things, such as learning new instruments, we all can really see a huge difference from the beginning to now.”

Although the pandemic prevented these festivals from happening as they would have normally, it actually provided an unexpected opportunity for certain students to improve much more than they ever could have, having gained extra time and more motivation to pursue their musical goals, Lieberman explained. 

“Over those months back in 2020 I had nothing to donone of us did so I started to play my instruments and sing a ton more,” she said. “Over the past year and a half that growth seemed to flourish. In my mind, if all of this never happened, then I wouldn’t be going to all of these great events, especially All-State. I am still in absolute shock on how I got here and how I have the opportunity to go to this giant event up in Rochester in the beginning of December.”