Get To Know Your Music Teachers!

Mrs. Jennifer Alessi

Jennifer Alessi has been teaching in the Wantagh School District since 1994. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Mansfield University, Pennsylvania and her Master's degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. She directs the 6th grade and 7th grade choruses and also teaches general music.  Ms. Alessi has also been the vocal director for many Wantagh High School musical productions such as Hello Dolly, A Chorus Line, The Boyfriend, The Little Mermaid, Bring It On and Anything Goes. Ms. Alessi loves her students and the Wantagh Community! She resides in Great River, NY with her husband, Dan, and their three sons, Matthew, Christopher and Frankie.

 

Mr. Annunziata

Mr. Annunziata is the band director at Forest Lake and Mandalay Elementary School, as well as teaching General Music in both schools. Having graduated from Hofstra University with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education, Mr. Annunziata went on to earn his Master's at The Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

Mr. Annunziata's musical journey started when he was 7 years old learning the piano and clarinet. At age 13 he discovered his real passion for the guitar and never put one down since. Mr. Annunziata has commenced a career in music not only in teaching but performing nationally and internationally for several bands and artists. He is currently the guitar/bass player for Ultra Recording Artist Kim Sozzi in her band Creations. He also performs with several bands playing weddings, parties and corporate events. Mr. Annunziata has earned a TV Accolade Award for his role in composing music for an independent film in 2007. In addition to his two college degrees, Mr. Annunziata has received extensive training in audio recording and music production. He currently owns his own recording studio where he teaches privately, records and develops many aspiring musicians and bands.

In his free time he enjoys being a professional soccer official as well as teaching/studying Tae Kwon Do. Mr. Annunziata has two beautiful daughters and a loving wife.

 

Mr. Dan Aviles

Mr. Dan Aviles was born in Havana, Cuba. Having both his father and mother as professional musicians helped him spark an interest in music early on in his childhood. Mr. Aviles then lived in Madrid, Spain for two years before moving to the United States in 1984. Throughout his early musical training, Mr. Aviles, played several instruments including clarinet, alto, tenor and bari saxophones before discovering his passion for percussion instruments. Aviles went on to study music in college with a concentration in Percussion performance. He received his undergraduate degree in Music performance from Brooklyn College and then went on to perform with several renowned musicians including Paquito D'Rivera, Oriente Lopez, Chico Freeman and several others. He also performed with the American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center and several other venues. Aviles also toured with the Chico Freeman Band to Lithuania and Spain.

After a few years on the road Mr. Aviles decided to concentrate on education. He received his masters degree in music education from Hofstra University and very soon after became one of the band directors at Wantagh High School.  As an educator, Mr. Aviles has directed many ensembles including the Wantagh High School Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and Pit Orchestra.  Mr. Aviles has also composed eight original compositions for the Wantagh High School Percussion Ensemble and has custom designed nine field shows for the Wantagh High School Marching Band. He has also chaired the All County division 5 Jazz Band several times and has acted as one of the main adjudicators for the All County Jazz auditions.

In his free time, Mr. Aviles performs with several bands for weddings, parties, and corporate events. He also runs a cycling club and racing team of over 150 members in which he is currently nationally ranked as 2nd in his category.

 

Ms. Babcock

Ms. Babcock graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She holds a Bachelors degree in horn performance from the Eastman School of Music, a Masters degree in horn performance from the Manhattan School of Music and a Masters degree in Music Education from Hunter College, CUNY. She is a member of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, New York City; the National Association for Music Educators; the New York State School Music Association; the New York State Band Directors Association, and the Nassau Music Educators Association. Ms. Babcock is a faculty member of the Wantagh School District, where she teaches 6th and 7th grade band at Wantagh Middle School, and was previously on the music faculties of the East Meadow and West Islip School Districts. Ms. Babcock has presented, "Horn Help!" at the New York State School Music Association's All State Conference, is a NYSSMA Brass Adjudicator and is the Brass Editor for the School Music News Magazine. Her articles "Horn Help" and "Advanced Horn Help" were published in the March and April, 2015 issues of School Music News.

In horn performance, Ms. Babcock has been a Brass and Percussion Teaching Artist for Midori and Friends in New York City, a Performing Artist and Educator for the Manhattan School of Music, Norfolk Chamber Music, and the Eastman School of Music Early Childhood Divisions. She has performed professionally with many orchestras in New York City including New York Chamber Opera, DiCapo Opera, Amato Opera, in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, and the Brooklyn Symphony. She performs with tri-state area orchestras such as the Long Island Philharmonic, New Haven Symphony and Smithtown Theater.

She has performed in master classes conducted by The American Horn Quartet, John Cerminaro (International Soloist), Eli Epstein (Cleveland Orchestra), Bruce Henniss (Houston Symphony), David Jolley (International Soloist and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra), Peter Kurau (Rochester Philharmonic), Erik Ralske (Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic), Verne Reynolds, and the late Barry Tuckwell (International Soloist).

As an active chamber musician Ms. Babcock enjoys playing in brass quintets and small chamber ensembles and is happy to be involved in the Woodwind quintet Synergy. Her former brass quintet, the Echelon brass quintet, has performed on the Trinity Concert Series on Wall Street, the St. John the Divine Concert Series, and was invited to the Coleman Chamber Music Competition Finals in Pasadena, California.

Ms. Babcock has studied in several summer music programs, including Interlochen Arts Camp, the Texas Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and for five summer seasons at the Aspen Music Festival, where she was first accepted at age 15.

Ms. Babcock's other hobbies include: CrossFit, running full and half marathons, weight lifting, reading, shopping, volunteering, amateur radio and exquisite cheeses, chocolates and fine dining! Ms. B also loves animals. She owns a Shih-Tzu dog (Zsa Zsa Gabor) and two cats (Solomon and Camilla).

 

sameerah cassidy chorus

Mrs. Sameerah Cassidy is a native of Buffalo, New York, and relocated to Long Island in 2019.  She received both her undergraduate degree in music education and masters of science in music education from SUNY Buffalo State.  She taught elementary and middle school for three years at Buffalo Academy of Science prior to joining the faculty at Wantagh. 

Currently Mrs. Cassidy is the director of the Wantagh High School Chorale, Chorus, Vocal Jazz, and A Cappella club.  In addition, Mrs. Cassidy teaches AP Music Theory, Music Theory, and Audio Engineering.  

In her free time, Mrs. Cassidy loves to travel and spend time with her son and husband.  She is so happy to be a part of the Wantagh community, and is grateful to teach such wonderful and dedicated students.

 

chris cockren, band director

Mr. Christopher Cockren completed his undergraduate degree in music education from Hofstra University Honors College, where he was the recipient of both the Herbert A. Deutsch award and Dorothy B. Hoag award for excellence in music education and performance. Mr. Cockren continued his studies at Hofstra on the graduate level, receiving a Master of Arts Degree in Wind Conducting under the tutelage of renowned conductor Dr. Peter Loel Boonshaft.

As a freelance musician, Mr. Cockren has enjoyed playing both the Baroque trumpet and cornetto, which are the historically accurate versions of the trumpet prior to the invention of valves in the 1800s. He has performed with various early music orchestras throughout the East Coast, including New York Collegium, Spiritus Collective, Tempesta di Mare, Clarion Society, Concert Royal and the St. Thomas Boy's Choir, Piffaro, and the Philadelphia Choral Arts Society. Although still an active freelance musician on modern trumpet in the Long Island area, Mr. Cockren's true passion is teaching music. He is currently the director of the Wantagh High School Concert Band and Chamber Ensemble as well as the Wantagh Middle School 8th Grade Band and Middle School Jazz Ensemble, and co-directs both the Wantagh High School Symphonic Band and Marching Band.   

In his free time, Mr. Cockren enjoys spending time in the city with his wife and two children, photography, and cooking.

 

Ms. Eliza Damasco

Mrs. Eliza Dellamonica is the orchestra director at Wantagh Elementary School. She started studying the piano at age five and then began to learn the violin at age nine. Mrs. Dellamonica attended the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Hunter for her undergraduate education, and she is currently a Masters Degree candidate in music education at CUNY Queens College. During her undergraduate studies, Mrs. Dellamonica was involved in orchestral and chamber ensembles on both instruments, while she majored in music and minored in philosophy. She has attended several summer music programs where she performed and studied piano both in the US and abroad; they include the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Tennessee, the Beijing International Music Festival Academy, and the Interharmony Music Festivals in Germany and Italy. Mrs. Dellamonica has performed with the Macaulay Chamber Players, Hunter Symphony, and most recently with the Litha Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to being a busy teacher, violinist, pianist, Mrs. Dellamonica is also an avid yoga practitioner.

 

violin

Mrs. Dina Langer: Many know me as the crazy red-haired orchestra teacher of the most lit string ensemble to ever cross Beltagh Avenue, however, I was not always so amazing; great things take time.

I am a graduate of both the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and Hofstra University, and started teaching at Wantagh High School in 1992. I have five children; two biological, and adopted triplets. While my life as an orchestra teacher, founder of the Fine & Performing Parent Association at Mepham High School, gym rat, frequent customer of Trader Joe's, and mother of five is absolute chaos, I still find time to advise the Wantagh High School Tri-M Music Honor Society, which is mad dope.

 

Mrs. Elizabeth Marinis

Mrs. Elizabeth Marinis, General Music teacher and Chorus Director at Wantagh Elementary School, grew up on the North Shore of Long Island and attended Locust Valley High School where she was a member of the Concert Chorale, the Madrigals and the drama group, the Jesters. Mrs. Marinis studied classical piano starting at the age of five and minored in Music Performance at Sarah Lawrence College. Mrs. Marinis holds a Masters of Science in Music Education from C.W. Post College. Mrs. Marinis' interests and hobbies are many, but her favorite activities are playing the piano, singing, yoga, swimming, riding horses and sailing.

 

Mrs. Millen

Mrs. Millen became interested in music when she was a little girl listening to her father play guitar and sing. When she got her own guitar at 8 years old, Mrs. Millen knew that she was a musician. When she entered high school, her orchestra teacher heard her play guitar and asked her to join the orchestra on bass. It was at that moment that she decided to be a music teacher. That goal has led her to become a music teacher at Forest Lake and Mandalay schools. Mrs. Millen earned degrees in music education from Hunter College and Queens College. While at school she trained on guitar with Jorge Morel, on bass with Diana Mizel, and studied composition with John Corigliano. Since that first orchestra in High School Mrs. Millen has performed with many symphonies, bands, and orchestras. Check the links on Mrs. Millen's web page for performances by the group she plays with, The Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra. Many of the Pop's performances are free. Please go see a performance and be sure to say hello at intermission or after the concert!

Mrs. Millen lives with her husband, three children and their best friend- a big, happy, yellow dog named Buddy. In her free time she likes to walk with Buddy, spend fun time with her family, friends and neighbors, practice yoga, go to the beach, ice skate and read. Her favorite stories are the "Lord of The Rings" books.

 

Mrs. Courtney Miller

Courtney Miller began her classical music training with Marilyn Smith through the Suzuki school at LIU Post when she was 3 years old. Throughout her childhood she learned to play various other instruments and decided to pursue a degree in Music Education with a Concentration in Special Education in Music at the Crane School of Music. While continuing her classical studies with Dr. Sarah Hersh, she also sought out opportunities to be more diverse in her playing by studying other genres of music such as Improvisation, Jazz, Pop, and Irish Fiddling; which included studying with native fiddlers and teaching school children in Ireland over the summer. After teaching in Chatham, NY for the last two years, Ms. Miller has returned home to Long Island and is happy to be a part of the Wantagh community while continuing her studies at Teachers College at Columbia University and performing with the South Shore Symphony Orchestra.

 

Carmen Vieytez

Carmen Vieytez is the band director and a general music teacher at Wantagh Elementary School, and teaches 6th grade general music and band lessons at Wantagh Middle School.  Ms. Vieytez earned her undergraduate degree in Music Education and Flute Performance from Ithaca College, and is currently working towards her Masters in Music Education from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

As a flutist and piccoloist, Ms. Vieytez performs with the Manhattan Wind Ensemble and the Massapequa Philharmonic.  In the summer and fall seasons, Ms. Vieytez spends much of her free time on the field with the Hicksville Marching Band, where she serves as the Assistant Director.  In her free time, Ms. Vieytez loves cooking, listening to podcasts, reading, and spending time with her family!