About our Department
The Glen Cove Music Department is known for its fine tradition of excellence. Students begin their musical journey in kindergarten and continue through their senior year in high school. Our musicians are given the opportunity to be part of performing ensembles that include band, chorus, and orchestra, as well as a variety of classroom music experiences. In addition, the music department offers many extra-curricular activities, such as jazz band, pep band, a cappella groups, musical theater performances, drum line, and fine arts festivals. Award winning performances are enjoyed throughout the year by families and community members alike.
Brittney Frank Rifkind has been a music educator in the Glen Cove City School District since 2011 and has worked in several schools in the district. For the past eight years, Brittney has served as the High School Band Director, where she oversees the Glen Cove High School Marching Band, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Band. In addition to annual school concerts and events, the bands frequently perform outside of school- the Marching Band has participated in the NYC Columbus Day Parade several times as well as performed during halftime at a Hofstra Men’s Basketball game. The Wind Ensemble quite often competes and is awarded the highest ratings at the yearly NYSSMA Major Ensembles Adjudication festival as well as Music in the Parks competitions. The Jazz Band regularly does community outreach by performing at local events and organizations. Brittney holds degrees in Music Education from Hofstra University and CUNY Queens College and is an active member of several professional organizations, including NAFME, NYSSMA, and has served on the executive board of Nassau Music Educators (NMEA). She loves being a member of the Glen Cove community and looks forward to continuing to serve our students and families!
Edward P. Norris III is the PROUD director of choral music at Glen Cove High School where he serves as the Artistic Director of the Mixed Chorus and Select Chorale. Mr. Norris also teaches courses in Music Theory and AP Music Theory. He is the Music Director of the spring musical productions and the advisor of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Mr. Norris is a graduate of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, where he received both his Bachelor of Arts Degree, and his Masters Degree in Music Education/Conducting. During Mr. Norris’ tenure at Glen Cove High School, the Mixed Chorus and Select Chorale have only received Gold Medals and Gold Medals with Distinction at the NYSSMA Major Ensemble festivals. Numerous students from the choral program have performed in All County, All State, All Eastern and All National Choral Ensembles. The Select Chorale has performed all over the United States and Internationally as well, including performances for Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica and President & Mrs. Obama in the White House. Both the Mixed Chorus and Select Chorale have performed at some of New York’s most prestigious performance venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and even Citi Field. In addition to his work at Glen Cove, Mr Norris is the Artistic Director of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO) Chamber Chorale, as well as the Artistic Director of the LIU Post Choir. Mr. Norris is also a contributing author of “Teaching with Heart, books I & II” by Dr. Jason Max Ferdinand and serves on Dr. Ferdinand’s National Education Advisory Team.
Chris Lippe is the string orchestra director of the Robert M. Finley Middle School. In addition to directing the 6th grade orchestra and the combined 7th and 8th grade orchestra, Mr. Lippe teaches 6th grade general music. He earned his Bachelors of Music from C.W. Post of Long Island University (now LIU Post) in 2006 and his Masters of Music Technology from Five Towns College in 2010. His primary instrument is guitar (jazz/classical/all genres) and he also performs on the trombone. Before starting his teaching career, Mr. Lippe spent many years composing music and performing with a regional touring band. Mr. Lippe first started teaching in 2006 at Harborfields School District, where he taught high school guitar classes, high school music theory and Music In Our Lives, middle school general music and band Lessons. He also started his career teaching string orchestra at Thomas J. Lahey Elementary school by directing the 4th and 5th grade orchestra. Mr. Lippe then took the string orchestra position at Robert M. Finley Middle School in 2010, where he has since had much success growing the program and developing award-winning orchestras.
JoAnn Criblez is a professional singer and performer who has taught in the Glen Cove School District for 27 years as an elementary general music and elementary orchestra teacher. JoAnn is a passionate arts educator who consistently strives to present a curriculum that includes experiential, aesthetic and enriching arts experiences for her students. JoAnn first received her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance (Soprano) and then graduated Magna Cum Laude from CUNY Lehman College with an MAT in music education. JoAnn has always been a strong advocate for fine arts education. She has been involved in countless arts endeavors for the district, including being the K-5 Team Leader for Music, the Fine and Cultural Arts Team Leader at Gribbin School and the Special Area Teachers Team Leader. These positions included being the liaison to outside organizations such as The Tilles Center, Friends of the Arts and the Great Neck Arts Center, and involved planning and organizing many extra fine arts performances and projects for the students. Currently, JoAnn is the proud director of the Connolly and Landing Elementary Orchestra program and is delighted to provide our beginner musicians with the wonderful opportunity of playing an instrument while also learning music theory, note and score reading, ensemble performance and teamwork. Outside of school, JoAnn runs a professional vocal studio for singers of all ages and currently teaches cabaret classes for kids through Jazz Hands Children’s Theater.
Courtney Sack is the elementary general music and chorus teacher at Connolly and Landing Schools and is thrilled to be back for another wonderful year of making music in Glen Cove. Ms. Sack has taught elementary music in the Garden City Schools and the middle school band in the Smithtown Schools prior to landing in Glen Cove. A primary vocalist, Ms. Sack has performed at the Prudential Center with Barry Manilow, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and Jazzaldia in San Sebastian, Spain, as well as Carnegie Hall and Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. Ms. Sack also plays the clarinet, bass clarinet and oboe, teaching private lessons on these instruments. Ms. Sack loves musical theater and helping students realize their musical potential. She is looking forward to adding to the great successes of our students over the past few years!
Lauren Polansky is the music teacher for Deasy and Gribbin Schools. She also conducts band lessons at the Middle School. She is very happy to be back for her second year both teaching and in the district! Ms. Polansky got her Bachelor's degree from the Crane School of Music at Suny Potsdam. She is currently working on getting her Masters online from the University of Buffalo. Ms. Polansky has had many wonderful opportunities. As far as teaching, she was lucky to not only once, but twice, travel to the country of Jamaica and teach students in the Jamaican school yards. She was also a supervisor to other college students. Her primary instrument is percussion and she has had various performance opportunities. One of her favorite performance experiences was at the NAMM Convention in California. Although her main instrument is percussion, Ms. Polansky loves to bring the guitar to all of her music classes. Ms. Polansky loves to help her young students get inspired by music in all different ways. She can't wait to work with all of her students and be a part of their musical success.
James A. Guarini is honored to be teaching High School Orchestra and Digital Music for the Glen Cove City School District. He is one of the founding teachers for the Glen Cove School District String Orchestra Program, which is now in its 17th year. He completed his undergraduate studies in Music Education and Classical Guitar, and holds a Master’s Degree in Music Technology. He is a regular performer as an instrumentalist and singer in various ensembles throughout Long Island. Mr. Guarini is looking forward to the continued opportunity to help bring a world class music education experience to the Glen Cove School community.
Keith R. Schmidt is currently the band conductor of the 7th and 8th Grade Band, 6th Grade Band and Jazz Band at Robert M. Finley Middle School. He has taught the 7th Grade Band and General Music as well. Mr. Schmidt was also the band director of the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Marching Band and Jazz Band at Glen Cove High School as part of his 15 years of teaching in the Glen Cove City School District. Before teaching here in Glen Cove, he taught for 8 years in the Seaford School District. Prior to that, Mr. Schmidt taught in the Mamaroneck Public School in Westchester County. Outside of school, Mr. Schmidt conducts The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Band which supports all of the military branches with ceremonial music. He also conducts the American Air Power Museum Band. As a brass instrumentalist, but mainly a French horn player, he has performed in many pit orchestras, symphonic orchestras, concert bands, small ensembles and as a soloist around Long Island and abroad. Mr. Schmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and a Master of Science with a concentration in Wind Conducting from Hofstra University. He also holds an Educational Administration Degree from Queens College.
Pasquale Iannelli is currently the elementary band director for Connolly and Landing Schools. He is a proud alumni of Glen Cove High School and the Glen Cove music department. After high school, Mr. Iannelli pursued his passion for live performance by touring the country opening for legendary artists such as George Clinton and The Parliament Funkadelic, The Wailers, Tower of Power and many others. In addition to sharing the stage with long-standing legends, Mr. Iannelli has also opened for some of the biggest names in pop music, including Open Republic, Life House, Blues Traveler, The Wallflowers, and many others. While still keeping a regular performance schedule, Mr. Iannelli also pursued degrees in music performance, including an Associates in Music from Nassau Community College, a Bachelor's of Music from Hunter College and a Master's degree in music education from LIU Post. Mr. Iannelli has had the privilege of studying saxophone and clarinet with some of the best instrumentalists and educators from around the country, including Eastman School of Music alumni and lifelong Educator Bob Dransite. He has also studied with Bob Reynolds (John Mayer/ Snarky Puppy), and Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck and The Flecktones/ Dave Matthews Band). Mr. Iannelli’s goal is to take his love of music and infuse all of his teachers’ passion and knowledge and pass both down to his own students.
Joy Sullivan has been teaching music since 1989. She received her BS in Music education from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania and her MS in Choral Music from Five Towns College in Dix Hills N.Y., Summa Cum Laude. It has been a pleasure and an adventure to grow as an educator through the instruction of music from Kindergarten up to the Middle School Choral ensembles. Assisting students in finding those “Ah ha” moments when they know they’ve finally achieved a goal they’ve been working hard on is particularly rewarding. It is amazing to watch the littles that begin their musical journey in Kindergarten transform into the musicians that leave for high school at the end of every school year. Mrs. Sullivan has spent many years coaching both her school students and private students to perform at NYSSMA Solo Festivals and participate in All-County concert performances. She considers herself fortunate to have a career she adores, working with children to discover and create amazing music.
The elementary music program strives to give a variety of musical experiences to every student. In General Music class students learn the basics of rhythm, melody, harmony, sight reading, music theory, composition and performance through singing, movement and in the playing of instruments. In 3rd grade students are given the opportunity to begin their experience in formal instrumental ensembles through participation in the string orchestra. Additionally, 4th and 5th grade students may also participate in band. All K-5 students perform as members of their respective grade level chorus at Winter and Spring Concerts.
The Cultural Arts programs at the elementary level allow all students the opportunity to explore a wide range of aesthetic and experiential arts activities. These programs include: The Tilles Center Arts in Education School Partnership and the Jazz Sampler project. These programs include workshops with professional teaching artists and attendance at various professional performances.
Middle School Music
The Robert M. Finley Middle School music department aims to enrich each and every student’s musical experience. Whether a student is enrolled in a performing ensemble or a general music class, every child receives the opportunity to explore the world of music. Middle school music is the bridge between the beginning experiences at the elementary level and the advanced ensembles at the high school. Therefore, this time is crucial in a child’s musical development. The faculty strives to create an environment where students are not afraid to take chances and experiment in this art form while developing advanced musicianship and musical concepts.
The following music courses are offered at the middle school:
- Chorus 6
- Orchestra 6
- Band 6
- Chorus 7/8
- Orchestra 7/8
- 7th Grade Band
- Concert Band
- General Music
- Introduction to Band
High School Music
Our High School Music department is generally one of the busiest areas of the building. The courses offered act as an avenue for musical enjoyment, or as a stepping stone towards a career in music. There is a wide variety of offerings here which include Music Theory I, AP Music Theory, Concert Orchestra, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Mixed Chorus, and Select Chorale.
Our music theory courses are geared towards the advanced music student and are a great prerequisite to college music courses. The performing groups are top notch; our Wind Ensemble and Select Chorale are among some of the top groups in New York State. We are also very excited that the orchestral program that was started 8 years ago has arrived at the high school!