Carle Places New Orchestra Teacher

Carle Place’s New Orchestra Teacher

Many new teachers joined the Carle Place Middle/High School community at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year. One such teacher is Mr. Josef Christ: the new director of the high school and middle school orchestra. Mr. Christ replaced Mr. Stein, the former director of the middle and high school orchestra as well as the pit orchestra director. Mr. Christ assumed these duties following the retirement of Mr. Stein at the end of 2023. In this exclusive interview with the CrossRoad Path, Mr. Christ reveals his love for music and how he turned that passion for music into a career.

Growing up on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mr. Christ’s childhood was filled with music. He recalls his earliest experiences with music, “My mother told me that one of the first things I did as a child was playing jingle bells on the xylophone.” He goes on further, explaining that while his family was musically inclined, he was the only member who went on to pursue music as a career. This passion for music would follow Mr. Christ as he grew up, “To me, music was the center of everything. If I was going to a wake I would listen to the music. If we had a celebration I would listen to the music. In school, I cared about music class the most and a day wouldn’t go by without me playing music.” He goes on to explain that he would even listen to music while pursuing his other hobby: BMX biking.

Mr. Christ’s passion for music was so strong that after school he would supplement his at-home and in-school music practices by attending classes at a music conservatory. Attending classes at a music conservatory gave Mr. Christ a place where he received schooling specially geared towards music. During this time spent in a place built for music, Mr. Christ was able to nurture and develop his passion for the arts. He cites one teacher at the conservatory as being responsible for planting the idea in his mind of potentially pursuing a career in music education. It was also this same music teacher who introduced Mr. Christ to the viola.  He says, “Growing up I had a great teacher who introduced me to the viola. One day my piano teacher took a leave of absence and I played violin under another teacher during that time. That violin teacher introduced me to viola and when I tried the viola I knew I wanted to be a music teacher just like him.”

After he migrated to the United States under the Diversity Immigration Visa Program in 2008, Mr. Christ would follow through with his dream of pursuing a career in music education. However, before becoming a music teacher, Mr. Christ would first start another career:  HR and construction. (Additionally, during his teenage years, Mr. Christ worked installing security systems and creating circuit boards to connect alarms to central police stations through automatic phone dialing) Mr. Christ would attend LaGuardia Community College before going to Queens College to receive a master degree in music education. Once he had his degrees, Mr. Christ was able to realize his dreams of teaching music.

As a musician, Mr. Christ revealed that he much rather teach than perform saying, “ I also played for gigs, but I’m not crazy about performing. I just like teaching better, teaching is more exciting. When I’m by myself I can only play one instrument but when I conduct I feel like I am playing multiple instruments at once”. However, Mr. Christ does have interesting stories from his time playing gigs, revealing that he once played for a poet who was in the middle of an intense writing session.

As for his first teaching experience as a student teacher, Mr. Christ revealed that it was overwhelming but also extremely rewarding, “It was completely different, It was overwhelming and insightful. It was fun, I loved it, and it also helped that I spoke Spanish so I was able to communicate with my Latin American students.” Following his stint in the city, Mr. Christ would go on to teach at Roosevelt High school which is located not far from Carle Place Middle/High School. He describes his time in Roosevelt High School as amazing. However, his students were dealing with social issues outside of their control. Even now, Mr. Christ looks back on his time in both schools fondly.

The teaching position in Carle Place initially interested Mr. Christ because Carle Place would enable him to teach both middle and high school students. This would allow him to get to know his students better and form a bond. The feeling was mutual since Carle Place hired him as the new Middle and High school orchestra teacher. Mr. Christ sums up his time in Carle Place so far as “It is amazing, the best teaching experience so far.”

In the recent winter concert, Mr. Christ describes the pieces that he had the orchestra play as being both enjoyable yet challenging. According to him, “I choose the songs because I like them because students like them. It was a few of the pieces. I like the piece and I think it challenges the students, For example it taught them shifting. It fed into the goals I set for them.” Regarding the upcoming spring concert Mr. Christ opened up more options for the students to pick some of the songs they want to play, “I have a few pieces and students have a few piece they were thinking. I was going to compromise for them. A lot of students are going to give me ideas. One of the pieces we are doing is Howl’s Moving Castle. A flare from the black violin from the students. And the other one we are going to figure out.”

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Hudson Hsieh, Editor

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