The Nanuet Music Department is delighted to welcome the new high school and elementary school orchestra teacher, Ms. Melanie Sadoff. By starting her journey in teaching in the Nanuet school district, it is certain that she will bring the music program to new heights.
According to Ms. Sadoff, she has always had a passion for teaching. When she was in high school, she taught private music lessons to middle school students, and worked as a camp counselor and babysitter; all of these contributed to her love of giving guidance and teaching others.
“I have always loved learning,” she says. “To be a teacher is to be a learner. Each day, I learn so much from all of my students, at the High School and at Highview.”
Even during her years in high school, student lessons inspired her to improve and master her skills.
“Even at the beginning, I would leave lessons more inspired to master my craft,” she said. “Teaching was, and continues to be, my way of experiencing the world in which we live.”
Choosing one’s first job is always a major decision, especially in the field of teaching. There are many major aspects to think of when considering a position.
“Growing up in Suffern, I always knew how great Nanuet’s music program was,” says Ms. Sadoff. “During my job search, I had a number of factors to consider: distance from home, position and responsibilities, and overall school community and atmosphere. How lucky was I when this position opened which checked all of my boxes!”
She feels very fortunate to have found this position opening during her job search, as it fit her preferences perfectly, and she is also proud to be able to contribute to such a distinguished music program.
“I am so far loving it,” she says. “I thought this year would be terribly difficult, and while it’s no walk in the park, being in a district that has supportive administration, wonderful colleagues, and dedicated families and students has made it so much smoother.”
Having graduated from Ithaca College in 2020, Ms. Sadoff feels that she is learning as much as she is teaching her students.
“You all teach me what strategies work well, which presentation of new topics is clearer,” she says.
Additionally, Ms. Sadoff states that, “As with anything, there is a learning curve to teaching. Many music teachers describe their first year as their most difficult. I certainly couldn’t have anticipated all of the various logistical and administrative duties that go along with teaching. Nevertheless, when I’m in the moment teaching, I am the most comfortable.”
Her prior experience in instructing a group allows her to effectively direct the orchestra. Regardless of standing at the conducting podium in the classroom or leading a virtual lesson on Zoom, Ms. Sadoff is always prepared and enthusiastic to help students better understand and perform new repertoire.
Under these unusual circumstances, many teachers have been facing various difficulties. One challenge that Ms. Sadoff is currently facing is creating meaningful relationships with students due to the remote and hybrid schedule. Since an orchestra is a collaborative effort, it is especially difficult for half of the students to not be present, or even teaching fully remote students that may not even have met the director. However, Ms. Sadoff says she is hopeful for the future, and will be patient in building a strong Nanuet orchestra community over time.
Although many things have changed under current circumstances of the pandemic, Ms. Sadoff’s most significant and overarching goals for the high school orchestra remain relevant and constant. She hopes that she will be able to provide guidance for orchestra students in understanding all aspects of music, and not just performance.
“I hope that orchestra students, upon graduation, can say they understand the technical, musical, and cultural components of the music that we study,” she says.
According to Ms. Sadoff, “The national standards for performing arts are four words: creating, performing, listening, and responding. Performance should not and can no longer be the only focus of orchestra class. Composition and improvisation are an important facet of musicianship, as is active listening and understanding music’s role as an agent for social justice.”
By having students better acknowledge the importance of musical technicality, listening to others, and even the basics of composition and improvisation, it brings them closer to reaching these national standards. By dedicating time during orchestra class to helping students better understand the cultural, interpretive, and cooperative aspects of ensemble playing through detailed and interesting instruction, it will contribute positively to their understanding of music as a whole.
Overall, it is certain that the school has opened a new and exciting chapter as it welcomes Ms. Sadoff as a new orchestra director. It is unquestionable that she will bring a whole new perspective and valuable knowledge to the eager orchestra students and contribute greatly to the entire Nanuet community.