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Interview with Mr. Malizia: Featured New Faculty Member

Manal Layachi

Volume 4 Issue 3

March 13, 2024

Interview with Mr. Malizia: Featured New Faculty Member

Image Provided by Ms. Ansbacher

Mr. Malizia and North Star's Sports Editor Manal Layachi


Mr. Malizia is the new junior high (7th and 8th grade) band director at Valley Stream North High School. I had the opportunity to interview him about how he came to North, his personal connection to music, and advice he has for musicians at North and future music teachers.  


How he came to North: 

What college did you go to/what degrees did you earn in college? 

“I went to Hofstra University, and I got my Bachelor of Science in Music Education. When you go to Hofstra you are technically a dual major if you go there for education. You major in education and also major in whatever subject you want to teach.” 

Did you always want to become a teacher when you were younger? 

“Teacher was always something that was in my head because my mom is a teacher, but she just retired recently. When she was a teacher and it was something that I had always seen, was familiar with, and how the teaching life works. I have always been around teachers as my mom’s friends were teachers. I was never set on teaching as a career until high school.” 

What brought you to teach at North High School?  

“I met Dr. Erdos playing in a pit with him for a musical and that’s how I heard about the job. I applied, picked up my resume, and had an interview at North. I had to play a little bit on a primary and secondary instrument. I played my trumpet, and the clarinet as well. After that, I did a demo lesson with the current 8th graders to show how I taught. Now that I have the current 8th graders, there are a couple of kids that I had made a brief connection with during my demo lesson, and they are my students now, so I get to really foster that connection which is pretty cool.” 

How was your first day at North? 

“Week One was a whirlwind because our first day was on a Friday. Leading up to that, the whole week was like ‘I don’t know any of my students. I don’t know what to expect. What’s going to happen?’ I planned out every second of that first day and even almost scripted myself. I created a little bit about me presentation and I kind of just rolled with it. I did a lot of planning and had a lot of preparation. I was like ‘What do I do? What if they don’t like me?’ It was nice to have Day One over with and have it under my belt. I met them. I got in a room. I did it. Only 179 more to go! Every day is a learning experience.” 


His Music Life: 

What is your personal connection to music? 

“It’s everything. It’s so much of who I am. I really feel like music is a living and breathing art form. Every single emotion that anybody has ever felt can be portrayed in music with sounds. Every idea and concept. Music has always been a big part of my life. I have always taken private lessons and always been involved in the music department. My personal connection to music blossomed in high school. I went to Farmingdale High School, and at Farmingdale we had such an amazing community within the band and in general. The Farmingdale community is an amazing community to be a part of and something that really fostered that love for me was being in music and the music department there. I felt it was so unique that we had what they have currently, and always have had. Everyone is so supportive of each other there and it is a positive environment to be a part of and welcoming. This spans further than where I went to high school and that is something I am also trying to foster here as well.” 


How do you support your students’ goals and musical endeavors? 

“I always tell my kids ‘You are always welcome in the band room. I am never going to turn you away.’ I grew up with the concept of we are creating something greater than ourselves. We are doing something so much bigger than one person can do. Everybody is important and makes a difference. Being involved in music is more than just making sounds and playing together. It’s this whole concept of doing something bigger than yourself and accomplishing things that you never thought could be accomplished. Developing your own sense of confidence, responsibility, and time management. Working as a team. Doing your part and also letting others do theirs. I could go on forever…” 


What do you love most about teaching? 

“Helping other people realize that you can do something that’s greater than yourself. What we are doing here is mental, physical, and all of the above, whereas Math is mostly mental. I wouldn’t argue that math or science is a physical thing. Putting the mental into the physical. It’s a full body thing. Music is the only subject that caters to every kind of intelligence. Some people are visual, logical, physical, or natural learners. Music is the only subject that really truly caters to all kinds. It’s a very unique subject.” 


What led you to join the Division 3 NMEA Festival Committee? 

“In college, I was always involved in volunteering at these festivals. A big part of our job is advocacy. Advocating for our students. Advocating for our programs. Advocating for the reason why music is important in our schools. It can be easy for people to be like ‘scratch the music program’ they do not truly understand what we are doing, so a lot of this advocacy that we are doing is really important. That’s a big part of what NMEA does and that’s a big part of All-County. Having these organizations really helps with advocacy and being able to provide these experiences for the next generation. I was a chairperson for the Division 5 All-County Jazz, and I also helped the Division 3 Chorus chair people.”  


What instruments are you able to play? 

“My main instrument would be the trumpet which I studied in college. I also studied the tenor saxophone a lot. I played trumpet in high school in the jazz and concert band ensembles. I also took private lessons in 5th grade for alto saxophone. I switched over to tenor as well. In 6th grade, I started clarinet and in 7th grade, I started flute. I did those four for NYSMMA every year going up levels five and six. In 10th grade, I did Allstate for trumpet and tenor saxophone. I got a 98 on trumpet and I got 100 on the tenor saxophone, but I was an alternate. I auditioned for the alternate all-National concert band and got in for tenor saxophone. I will never forget that day. I jumped up from off the couch and was like ‘I got in!’ It was such a cool experience! The next year I did four All State solos.” 



Do you have any advice for someone who wants to pursue music education in the future? 

“My suggestion is to get involved. Meet people, get involved, volunteer for things like All-County, the PEAK festival, and other events that NMEA does. Try teaching on your own such as private lessons for fourth and fifth graders. In college, get involved. Take private lessons, give private lessons. Just immerse yourself.” 


Do you have any advice for musicians at Valley Stream North High School? 

“Don’t take it for granted. There are not many opportunities that you really get to have. In the music department, we get to have so many different experiences. Being in a performance ensemble is so different than any other class period of the day. It’s worlds apart. It’s more interactive and personal. Being in the senior high groups, you get to know the upperclassmen and be in a class with people in other grades. There are not many classes and experiences like it. Little inside jokes and experiences with you and your friends in the ensemble. You go on different field trips, meet people, and have many different experiences that you would not be able to have if you weren’t involved in that.” 


Is there anything else you would like to add? 

“I am so lucky to do what I do. I am so fortunate to be here. You do what you love, and you never work a day in your life. I do love what I do. I try to pass that passion on to my students and try to make it a little contagious. I am really excited to help my students progress, be stronger, get them geared up to go onto the high school level, and be ready for everything that they are going to have thrown at them going forward. I am having a lot of fun and it's great getting to know all of the students. It’s been a lot of fun, and I am really fortunate to do what I do. I am very lucky, and I truly love what I do.” 


It was a pleasure interviewing Mr. Malizia, and he inspires me to continue on with music for the rest of my high school career and beyond! 

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