MEET THE STAFF: Ron Sanfilippo, RI Philharmonic Music School Faculty Member

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Where did you grow up? Middletown, RI.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Home. Whatever I cook.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee. Tea occasionally.

What instrument do you teach at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Jazz piano, jazz ensembles.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started?My mom made me take lessons when I was very young.Made me practice too much. I hated it and quit. Played trumpet in high school and college. Tried classical piano in college but failed. After 4 years of college (no Degree) I transferred to Berklee. Started to study jazz piano.

Who was your best teacher and why? Harvey Diamond. When I first went to Berklee I was in a beginner piano class with drummers, horn players, etc.Harvey was the teacher. Tragedy forced me to leave Berklee after 1 1/2 years. When I left I began studying privately with Harvey. He was a true Artist. For the first time I realized what the art of jazz and improvisation was all about. I wanted to be like Harvey.

What inspired you to start teaching? Financial necessity. As I began to teach I found I was good at it and learned the music better myself.

How long have you been teaching at the RI Philharmonic Music School? 22 years.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? The challenge of getting all students to learn. We all have different learning challenges and curves. Often I have to be very creative to get students to master different skills. By doing this it not only makes me a better teacher, but I also learn what I have come to know even better. I become a better musician through teaching. As I get better, so do my students. It is a win win situation.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Music School? From my perspective and what I do, the Music School is a great place for young students who are considering music a major in college or as a profession, it is THE school to enroll in. The atmosphere is relaxed, the teachers great, all the students are truly supported, and there are many different opportunities and courses to explore.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Up until recently nearly ALL of my time was taken up teaching my classes at Brown University
online, as well as my Music School students. Lately I have been practicing and doing a lot of garden work in my yard.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? It would be a good time to start reading the Bible. Music is tough for
just one album. Maybe John Coltrane’s album Ballads or one of the Bill Evans/Tony Bennett albums, or maybe the Band’s first album, The Band. Not sure about a movie. Possibly Avatar.

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