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Joseph Ianaconi, a music teacher at St. Regis Falls Central School, has aided the expansion of the school’s band program. Provided photo

ST. REGIS FALLS — The instrumental music teacher at St. Regis Falls Central School, Joseph Ianaconi, was commended on Oct. 13 by the New York State School Music Association with the Early Career Achievement Award.

A public announcement to the music teachers in the region was made on Nov. 20 at the Area All-State Music Festival.

“I am incredibly excited, humbled, honored to receive this award,” Ianaconi said. “I am sure that this will be a milestone in my career as an educator. There are so many outstanding music educators not only in our region but in our state. It is truly an honor to be recognized.”

The NYSSMA Early Career Achievement Award is a statewide accolade given to a teacher during their fifth to ninth year teaching who has demonstrated excellence in the field of music education.

According to Lily Ianaconi, Joseph Ianaconi’s wife and the band teacher at Franklin Academy High School, Joseph was nominated by local music teachers and administrators.

“Joe is an excellent resource on how to make the most of what a small school has to offer,” said Jeffrey Soper, NYSSMA Zone 6 representative. “He continually modifies and grows his program to meet the diverse needs of his students.”

In the course of his career at St. Regis Falls Central School, Ianaconi aided in the expansion of the school’s band program, which has seen enrollment triple in recent years. According to Lily, the school had to create a third band to ensure that students could fit on stage and in the band room.

The bands at St. Regis Falls have performed at numerous events, including at the state Capitol. Ianaconi has also utilized his talents to help in organizing music festivals for students at the county and regional levels.

Alongside the band program, Ianaconi teaches electives in high school music such as rock and roll history, music appreciation, world music, and music theory.

“I try to provide my students with different opportunities to showcase their musical skills and gain life experiences. My school’s unique makeup and size give students opportunities that may not be possible in a bigger program,” Ianaconi said. “These students grow as musicians when faced with the issues associated with a small school setting. They quickly learn how to become independent, confident, and encouraging towards their peers. The SRF band is a perfect example of how a small program can achieve great things. The students’ ability to adapt and overcome the challenges of having a small band truly sets them apart.”

Before his time teaching in St. Regis Falls, Ianaconi taught music in Hyde Park, Vt., where he expanded the band program, initiated fourth grade instrumental music lessons and created an after-school music program, according to Lily.

Ianaconi is originally from Islip, one of 10 towns in Suffolk County on the south shore of Long Island.

Ianaconi attended SUNY Fredonia where he earned a Bachelor of Music in music education and a master’s degree in percussion performance.

Throughout Vermont and New York, Ianaconi played percussion with various ensembles, Lily said.

The award will not be presented in person until the 2022 Area All-State festival in Moriah next fall due to COVID-19 restrictions on audiences and guests. There, NYSSMA President Dr. David M. Brown will present the award.

“I want to thank Dr. David Brown, the president of NYSSMA, and the NYSSMA Awards Committee for selecting me. I’d also like to thank my colleagues and administrators who recommended me for this award,” Ianaconi said. “I would also like to thank my wife Lily, who teaches band at Franklin Academy, for always supporting me. Finally, I want to thank all of the students I have taught in Vermont and New York. Without all of their hard work and dedication, we would not have been able to make music together. The unbelievable support that I received from administrators, school boards, and community members has been a big part of this accomplishment.”

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