Sherwood’s Andy Pizzo named the Louisiana ‘Band Director who Makes a Difference’ by SBO Magazine

Jan. 21 2020

Andrew J. Pizzo

Sherwood Middle Academic Magnet School

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Total Years Teaching: 21

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

This is difficult because there are so many times that an educator is proud of the students they teach. Whether it is a small moment such as a student finally getting a part mastered or when an ensemble achieves their overall goal at their music performance assessment, there are many proud moments that I have had with my present and past students. If I had to select one, it would be watching my community-based students when they have their first concert each year as they sit with my beginning band. To see the excitement on their faces and the joy in their playing, I couldn’t be prouder of these students. Leading and guiding them to perform as best as they are able to, regardless of their ailments, shows the true success in the individual. To me, those moments are my proudest because those students beat the odds in being able to perform. At the same time, watching my band members cheer those particular students in their success is just icing on the cake for that proud moment.

How do you hope to make a difference in your students’ lives?

I think back to my middle school and high school band directors. Two gentlemen assisted in shaping and molding me into who I am today as a music educator and as a performing musician. I take those lessons that I learned from them many years ago and put my personal twist on them to give back to my students today. Whether a student takes my class for one, two, or three years, it is the positive strides we make as humans that I want to instill in them the most. I tell them that we will make a million mistakes this year, but that if we can learn from them and minimize their occurrences, then we are growing in strength, ability, and knowledge. One of my teaching philosophies is to “instill an appreciation and understanding of the importance of music in our society today” and have them live that in their young lives. When they realize the great that they can do with their God given talent, then the sky is the limit in the rest of their endeavors. Just showing them, this is the difference I hope to make in each student who walks through my band room doors on a daily basis.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

“We will never quit” is the life lesson that I’m trying to teach. Regardless of our struggles in the band room and beyond, we won’t quit. We might have to work on something for a while before we master it, but we will succeed, no matter what. Regardless of the gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, or physical ability of the student, my goal is to show them the joy that music can bring to each individual and our community. I always tell them that band is full of life skills and that as we figure out the skills we are learning through our music, we must work within each of us, our sections, and the full ensemble to achieve our full potential. Watching them along their “adventure” is the best part of the lesson but seeing the ultimate goal of success in those lessons makes everything we encounter worth it for me.

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