US Educational Advisory Panel

At MusicFirst we know we can’t do this alone. We count on input from a panel of music educators, some who use our products in the trenches every day, and others who are continually looking for ways to connect with and benefit students. We regularly bounce ideas and new product offerings off our advisory panel to make sure we are working toward achieving YOUR goals, not just ours.

Joseph Abramo

Melissa Natale-Abramo

Rick Dammers

Joseph Abramo

Joseph Abramo, Ed. D. is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Music Education in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. His articles include publications in Music Educators Journal, The Journal of Research in Music Education, and The Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, among others. He has also presented at various international, national, and regional conferences. Dr. Abramo serves on the advisory committee of Music Educators Journal, is the Chair-Elect of the Philosophy Special Research Interest Group of the National Association for Music Education, and served as an early reviewer of the new national standards in music. In 2011, Dr. Abramo received The Outstanding Emerging Researcher Award from the Center for Music Education Research at the University of South Florida. He holds degrees from Teachers College of Columbia University, Michigan State University, and the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

Melissa Natale-Abramo

Melissa Natale-Abramo is a music educator and Department Chairperson for the Fine & Practical Arts at North Salem MS/HS in North Salem, NY. Dr. Abramo holds degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University, Northwestern University and SUNY Potsdam/Crane School of Music. Her dissertation investigated the construction of instrumental music teacher identity from a poststructural perspective. She has presented at various conferences including the American Educational Research Association, the International Society for the Philosophy of Music Education, New Directions in Music Education, and Establishing Identity: LGBT Issues and Music Education, and published in the Bulletin for the Council of Research in Music Education, Diverse Methodologies in the Study of Music Teaching and Learning and Situated Research in Music Education of the American Educational Research Association Music Education SIG's book series, Advances in Music Education Research.

Rick Dammers

Rick Dammers (B.MEd. Northwestern University; M.MEd. University of Illinois; Ph.D. University of Illinois) is an Associate Professor of Music Education and Chair of the Music Department at Rowan University where he incorporates technology throughout the music education curriculum. His research interests include comprehensive musicianship, and technology in music education.

Prior to teaching at Rowan, Rick was a music teacher (band and technology) and the Fine Arts Facilitator in the Ladue School District in suburban St. Louis for 13 years. Rick, is co-founder (with David Williams) of MusicCreativity.org, a site dedicated to encouraging the development of technology-based music classes to reach the non-traditional music student. He was honored as the 2010 TI:ME Mike Kovins Teacher of the Year and is a member of Phi Mu Alpha, Phi Beta Mu, and is an honorary Friends of the Arts member of Sigma Alpha Iota.

Barbara Freedman

Emilia Kister

Darcie Pickering

Barbara Freedman

Named the 2012 TI:ME Technology Teacher of the Year, Barbara Freedman has been teaching Electronic Music & Audio Engineering at Greenwich High School in Connecticut since 2001. She is the author of the book “Teaching Music Through Composition: A Curriculum Using Technology” published by Oxford University Press. She is a technology trainer, leads professional development workshops around the country and is a consultant to schools and districts on building technology labs and integrating technology into the curriculum. Barbara is the Co-President of the Music Educator Technologists Association/Technology Institute for Music Educators (META/TI:ME), Connecticut Chapter. She holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Music in Performance from Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music City University of New York and Professional Studies Diploma from the Mannes College of Music. She studied conducting at the Hartt School of Music, Westminster Choir College, and The Julliard School. Barbara’s motto, “Teach music. The technology will follow.” has become the rallying cry for music technology teachers around the world.

Emilia Kister

Born in Moscow, Russia, Emilia Kister began her piano studies at the Gnessin School of Music at the age of five. After immigrating to the USA with her family in 1989, Emilia attended the Eastman School of Music (BM ‘03), and Teachers College, Columbia University (MA ‘06). Ms. Kister taught General Music and Chorus to grades K-6 and children with special needs, in a public school in New York for nine years. There she launched a piano lab and music technology program. She has authored twenty lessons in "Elementary Keyboard Lab Curriculum - Teacher Guide" (SoundTree, 2009). In 2011, Ms. Kister was chosen as one of fifty music teachers nationwide to receive the biennial Yale School of Music Distinguished Music Teacher Award. From 2011-2013, Ms. Emilia Kister directed SchoolPlus Queens, a weekend enrichment program. She currently resides in Seattle, WA.

Darcie Pickering

Darcie Pickering teaches Strings and General Music to students in grades 6-12 in Pearl River, NY. Ms. Pickering was one of the founding teachers of the UMass Lowell String Project, a program made possible through a grant from ASTA/NSOA. The String Project is currently in its 13th year of bringing string instruction to inner city youth. In her own classroom, Ms. Pickering combines her passions for string playing and technology and applies them in her every day instruction to her students. For example, Ms. Pickering designed and teaches a course-Contemporary String Ensemble-where students use electric string instruments, a looper, and several iPad applications to learn, improvise, perform songs of their choice from rock, pop and rap genres.

Ms. Pickering holds a B.A. in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; and a M.A. in Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Joseph Pisano

S. Alex Ruthmann

Shalisa Kline Ugaz

Joseph Pisano

Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is the Director of Bands at Grove City College located in Grove City, PA. His conducting duties at the college include directing the college’s jazz ensemble, wind ensemble, concert band, and the Grove City College Wolverine Marching Band. His Ph.D. from Kent State University is in Music Education and holds a doctoral minor in instructional technology. He is an active music and arts advocate, adjudicator, jazz trumpeter, and frequently sought after guest conductor.

Prior to teaching at Grove City, Dr. Pisano held the position of Director of Athletic Bands at the State University of New York at Binghamton where he received his masters degree in instrumental conducting. Additionally, he is an active member of the Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Association and Honorary, National Band Association, National Association of Music Educators, Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, Pennsylvania Collegiate Bandmasters Association, and the American Bandmasters Association among other professional memberships.

Prof. Pisano also is a globally recognized expert in the fields of music, education, instrumental ensembles, and technology integration. His work and research in these areas are widely published in books, journals and trade magazines. He regularly presents related clinics and lectures about these topics on a national and international levels. He was awarded the PMEA Citation for Music Excellence in 2011, is frequently chosen as a keynote speaker for state music conferences, and was recently selected as the TI:ME Teacher of the Year.

S. Alex Ruthmann

S. Alex Ruthmann is a researcher, educator, and musician whose research and practice explores new media musicianship, creative computing, and the development of music and media technologies for use in school- and community-based youth programs. He and his collaborators are the recipients of two National Science Foundation grants exploring the interdisciplinary teaching of computational and musical thinking. Recently, Dr. Ruthmann collaborated with the MIT Media Lab and P2PU.org to develop and offer a MOOC on creative music production available at http://playwithyourmusic.org/, and established the NYU MusEDLab an NYU/Industry partnership incubating student entrepreneurial projects within the NYU Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions.

Ruthmann is the immediate Past-President of the Association for Technology in Music Instruction, Co-Editor of the International Journal of Education & the Arts, and Associate Editor of the Journal of Music, Technology, and Education. Ruthmann received an interdisciplinary B.Mus. degree from the University of Michigan in Music and Technology, and M.Mus. and Ph.D. degrees in Music Education from Oakland University.

Shalisa Kline Ugaz

Shalisa Kline Ugaz currently serves as the Director of Programs for Third Street Music School Settlement, the oldest community school of music in the country, which provides music and dance instruction to over 5,000 students in New York City. Previous to this appointment Ms. Kline Ugaz served as the Artistic Director, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement, Chair of the String Department and also the Director of Alegre Strings for the Merit School of Music of Chicago. Ms. Kline Ugaz has also served as a national speaker on topics including community engagement, curriculum development and program design for the League of American Orchestras, American String Teachers Association, the National Guild of Community Arts, and for many universities and community music programs nationwide and is a co-author of the publication String Teaching in America: Strategies for a Diverse Society. She founded the Alegre Strings program in 1997 which has provided string instruction for hundreds of children in the Latino neighborhoods of Chicago and has performed with them at many venues locally and nationally including with the Simon Bolivar Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and are scheduled to participate in the 2013 Suzuki Method World Conference in Japan. She was recently awarded “50 People That Make Chicago a Better Place” by the Chicago Sun Times, Top 10 Finalist of the Energizer Bunny “Keep Going” Award, and was selected as “Someone You Should Know” by ABC Chicago.