The Music Teachers

Barbara Anderson
Music, Valley Cottage Elementary

Barbara Anderson has taught K-12 vocal music since 1981. She was born at Nyack hospital and is a product of Rockland County public schools. Barbara attended The University of Hartford in Connecticut and graduated with honors from The Hartt School of Music. While studying at Hartt she became a certified Kodaly instructor. During the first part of her career she lived in New Jersey where she taught at William Paterson College and performed with Pro Arte Choral. At that time she taught in a K-8 public school setting and directed five different performing groups as well as the annual spring musical.

In 1989, Mrs. Anderson became a member of the Nyack family working as the choral director on the secondary level. Most of her energies were devoted to developing a Middle School vocal program. During that time she formed the Nyack Gem’s, a singing group of eighth graders who performed frequently in the community, revitalized the Middle School Drama program and directed several musicals. In 2001 she was recognized by New York State for her contributions to middle-level education. Barbara is a proud mother of two (almost) grown children and when they were in middle school, she requested a transfer, which was granted. Mrs. Anderson joined the VCE staff in 2005. She is extremely proud of the music program at VCE and instills a love of music and a sense of pride in all her students.

Michael Humphrey
HS Band, HS Music Theory, HS Music Tech

 Michael Humphrey currently serves as the band director at Nyack High School and as the marching band director for Nyack High School. He was formerly an itinerant music teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, teaching band in different schools around the city, as well as an itinerant band teacher in the Cleveland Parochial schools.

Mr. Humphrey attended Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music in Cleveland, OH earning a B.M.E. degree with a concentration in saxophone. Currently, he is completing his Masters in Music Education (M.M.E.) in Jazz Pedagogy at Capital University Conservatory in Columbus, OH. Mr. Humphrey has studied saxophone with Greg Banaszak, Mike Tomaro, Larry McKenna, and Michael Cox and has studied conducting with Laura Joss and Dwight Oltman.

Kristen Johnsen
Elementary Band Director, Valley Cottage Elementary, Upper Nyack Elementary, Liberty Elementary

Kristen Johnsen is starting her sixth year of teaching and is currently the Elementary Band Director.

Before coming to Nyack, Ms. Johnsen taught in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, and the Warwick Valley Central School District.

Ms. Johnsen attended the State University of New York at Fredonia, receiving a Bachelor of Music Education degree with a concentration in clarinet, and a Masters degree in Music Education.

As a clarinetist, Ms. Johnsen continues to play Eb and Bb clarinets with the Greater New York Wind Symphony, the SUNY Orange Chamber Ensemble, the SUNY Orange Symphony Orchestra, and the Hudson Valley Chamber Winds. Ms. Johnsen also performs on piccolo, flute, clarinet, and saxophone for musical pit orchestras throughout Orange County.

Matthew Lucero

Music Department Chairperson, NMS Music Technology

As an alumnus of the Nyack Public Schools, Matthew has continuously been active member of Nyack’s Music Department where he brings a dynamic energy to his role as a music educator. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies in 2010, he was brought on as the Nyack’s Elementary Orchestra Director and in 2013 became Nyack High School Orchestra Director where he conducts the Nyack High School Chamber Orchestra, Nyack High School String Orchestra, and Nyack High School Symphony Orchestra. As director of the NHS Chamber Orchestra, he has conducted the ensemble  Lincoln Center, Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall, and internationally in Prague during the 2013 Young Prague Festival Competition and in London’s Cadogan Hall in 2015. While working in the high school, he also started the Music Technology & Beginning Piano courses in the Inspire Nyack Mac Lab. He also has worked in the Middle School teaching Music Technology, and now currently instructs the 7th & 8th grade NMS Orchestra and NMS Chamber Orchestra.
Throughout the academic school year, he frequently collaborates with the other music faculty as a piano accompanist and is Assistant Marching Band Director to Nyack Red Storm Marching Band. During the summer months, he is also the Director of the Nyack Summer Music Program.
In addition to his work in the Nyack Public Schools, Matthew has also been on faculty at the Thurnauer School of Music (Tenafly, NJ) since 2010, where he directs and conducts the String Camerata. Aside from his conducting, he has also instructed music theory / musicianship classes in the Thurnauer School of Music.
Matthew M. Lucero received his Masters (M.A) in Music Education at Columbia University, Teachers College and his B.S. in Music Education (B.S.Ed.) from Hofstra University with his instrumental concentration on Piano and Violin. He has most recently completed his SDL/SBL Certification through SUNY New Paltz and recently has been appointed the Nyack Public Schools Music Department Chairperson.

Elaine Philhower
Choral/General Music (K-5), Liberty Elementary

Ms. Philhower began her tenure in the Nyack Public Schools in September, 1993, at Valley Cottage Elementary School.
While teaching at Valley Cottage, her fourth grade choral groups performed at the state capital in Albany during Music In Our Schools Month for four consecutive years. The fifth grade chorus performed at the Valley Cottage Library and the Rockland County Youthfest and, during the 1998 holiday season, over 130 students, representing grades 1-5, performed at the Palisades Center Mall in a Saturday morning concert.
Ms. Philhower spent a couple of years at home with her daughter, and returned to the school system at the Nyack Middle School, where she taught the general music classes, which included African drumming, guitar instruction, music history, theory and appreciation. She also assisted in the musical direction of the Middle School Musicals.Ms. Philhower received a Bachelor of Music from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and a Master of Science in Special Education from CUNY Lehman. She is a vocalist, pianist, guitarist, and plays the accordion, and several percussion instruments, which include drum set, steel drums, and African percussion.
For the past several years Ms. Philhower has taught K-5 at Liberty Elementary. Her goals for the music program at Liberty School are to instill a love of music in all the children, create a nurturing environment in the music room, and teach the students of Liberty School to sing, dance and make music throughout their lives.

Ann Winze
Instrumental Strings, Upper Nyack Elementary, Liberty Elementary, Valley Cottage Elementary

Stephen Yankou
Choral/General Music (K-5), Upper Nyack Elementary

Brendon Lucas
Nyack Middle School Band Director

 Brendon Lucas is currently the band director at Nyack Middle School, and is a music educator, clarinetist, and multiple woodwind performer in the northeast tri-state region. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music from Ithaca College and the University of Florida respectively, and previously served as a band director in the New Jersey public school system.

At Nyack Middle School, Mr. Lucas conducts the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands, as well as each of the school’s jazz ensembles. In addition, he works at the High School with the Nyack Red Storm Marching Band as an assistant director.

Kelly Conforti
Choral Director, Nyack Middle School

Kelly Conforti has been teaching for ten years and is currently teaching vocal music at Nyack Middle School.

Before teaching in Nyack, Mrs. Conforti taught elementary chorus and general music for three years, high school chorus and general music for three years, and directed the middle school production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka in the Warwick Valley Central School District.

Mrs. Conforti received a Bachelor of Music Education degree with a concentration in voice from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. She received a Master of Science degree with a concentration in instructional technology from Western Connecticut State University.

In addition to teaching, Mrs. Conforti has performed in community theater productions in Port Jervis, New York and Milford, Pennsylvania including Curtains, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Godspell, and Legally Blonde.

Brandon Coon

Choral Director, Nyack High School

Brandon Coon is the choral director at Nyack High School, teaching Mixed Choir, Women’s Vocal Ensemble, Advanced Choir, Men’s A Cappella, Piano, and Music Technology classes. He is also the faculty advisor for Tri-M Music Honor Society. Previous to Nyack, Mr. Coon taught at the secondary level in Plymouth, MA and Utica, NY, with a combination of choir, piano, music theory, and drama classes. Mr. Coon holds a BM in Music Education and Music Theory and an MM in Music Education from Ithaca College. Mr. Coon’s formal training is in classical vocal performance, but he also enjoys singing in every genre and has been seen playing accordion in an acoustic classic rock band.

Rebecca Perlman

Nyack Middle School Orchestra Director

 Rebecca Perlman currently serves as the orchestra director at Nyack Middle School and teaches band and orchestra at Valley Cottage Elementary. She received a Bachelor of Music Education with a concentration in violin from SUNY Fredonia, and a Masters degree in Humanistic/Multicultural Education from SUNY New Paltz.

Prior to joining the Nyack School Music Department, Ms. Perlman taught 4th and 5th grade orchestra and general music at North Main Elementary, part of the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District. She also spent time teaching elementary and middle school general music at Monticello Central School District and orchestra and general music at Cornwall Middle School.

As a violinist, Ms. Perlman has performed with the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra, Delaware Valley Opera, Cornwall String Ensemble, SUNY Orange Symphony Orchestra, and in various pit orchestras throughout the Hudson Valley. She has spent many summers studying and learning Eastern European folk music at various festivals and is part of a band that performs those genres of music.

Ms. Perlman is excited to be part of the Nyack Schools Music Team and looks forward to making music and working with young musicians in the Nyack School District.