On a brisk, chilly day, Michael Messina was interviewed in his office in the Howard. T. Herber Middle School on Ocean Ave. in Malverne. Messina sat in a small, mildly cluttered room at one end of the Band Room, a large space crowded with horns, music stands, a piano and students practicing scales and tunes.
Messina is currently the chairman of Music and Fine Arts at Malverne High School. He is in his eighth year in the position, leading seven other music teachers and five visual arts instructors. Messina was educated at Manhattanville College and has been teaching music for 19 years; he plays the drums. He is in his early middle ages, neat and trim with an open, cordial manner.
Messina pointed out just how popular his programs are at the High School. With a present enrollment of 537 students, 195 avail themselves of some form of music or other fine art, i.e., a substantial 36 percent of the student body.
Perhaps the reason for such wide participation is the very impressive array of programs offered to the interested student. The department features over seven music courses, among them: participation in a 120-piece Marching Band, a Wind Ensemble, a Choir, a Symphonic Band and a “Fusion “ Group. Looking at Visual Arts, students can choose from such courses as Drawing, Painting, Photography and Cartooning.
Messina mentioned that Photography, The Chorus, and the Marching Band (the latter being known by students and the Village as The Pride of Malverne) are presently the most popular programs with the students. He also announced that this year’s School Play will be “Shrek, the Musical,” now just starting rehearsals and to be performed March 4, 6, and 7 of 2015 by a talented cast.
Students start their musical studies in the 3rd grade (Chorus) and 4th (Instruments/Band). While there are try-outs for the Band, anyone interested in visual arts is encouraged to participate. Students showing achievement in both musical and visual art simultaneously are awarded the title “Musician with Distinction.” It is worth noting that those students involved in music courses rarely require supplemental outside training: dedicated Arts Department. staff just work extra hard to provide all necessary training in house.