Christmas 1999 - Year of The

"Do-It-Your-Self Banjo Kit"

I've told this story to several of our teachers over the years, and they always get a big kick out of it, so I thought I'd share it with all of you this holiday season....

In high school I was very big into the Dave Matthews Band.I believe I've seen them well over 20 times all over the country....from Foxboro MA, Hartford CT, New York City all the way down to West Palm Beach FL, and Manchester TN.

From about 1996 through 2000, the Dave Matthews Band had Bela Fleck and the Flecktones as their opening act.Bela Fleck is probably the best banjo player in the world, and often would come on stage with the Dave Matthews Band and perform live.Bela Fleck mixes traditional bluegrass banjo style with jazz and rock, which compliments the Dave Matthews Band very well.

I was so taken in by Bela Fleck's banjo playing that for Christmas 1999 I asked my parents for my own banjo as well as lessons.I had already been playing piano for 9 years, and my parents had no qualms about me wanting to take up second instrument. This was going to be my "Big Gift" for Christmas of 1999.

So on Christmas morning I come out of my bedroom and made my way to the living room.I was excited as every child is on Christmas morning.After opening a few boxes that contained the boring stuff like clothes...I spotted several boxes stacked up with my name on it. I had no clue what was inside these boxes, but it had to be better than clothes!

Box #1 to my bewilderment contained a Lazy Susan.You may be familiar with one of these on a picnic table in the summer to help move around utensils or napkins to your guests.

Box #2 contained a roll of fishing line.

Box #3 (A really long box) contained a stick from our yard!

Box #4 contained some rusty nails.

By now I'm scratching my head.Why are my parents giving me all this junk for Christmas?

Box #5 contained an envelope.Inside was hand made instructions written in chicken scratch from my parents that read "Merry Christmas Sam! Enjoy this "Do It Yourself Banjo Kit we've put together for you"! Love Mom & Dad. This gift was something straight out of the TV show the Beverly Hillbillies! The directions sort of looked like this:

My parents let my frustration go on for quite some time that Christmas morning. What parents mock their child by giving them junk related to the big thing they want for Christmas? Those of you who have met my parents wouldn't think they are such jokester. Then, right before Christmas dinner my parents pointed out in the corner a big triangular box that was behind our couch. Sort of like in the movie "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie's Red Ryder BB Bun was hidden in the corner of the family's living room.....there it was.....a real 5 string banjo, made by Fender. I was ecstatic!

We all had a great laugh and it's one Christmas I'll never forget. I did end up taking some banjo lessons from a local teacher. I never got as good as Bela Fleck, but I can still do a little pickin'.

I wish you all a Happy and Healthy Holiday season with your loved ones and hope you treasure the memories that are created each and every holiday season!

~ Samuel Faraci, M.M.


Family Spotlight

Building Confidence, Independence 
and Creativity through Music Lessons

- A few words from the Paniccia family!

"Deciding to take music lessons at HSM was the BEST investment we’ve made for our children"

These words are heard very often at the Harrison School of Music.The Paniccia family has two children taking weekly lessons at the Harrison school of Music.Rosella has been taking voice and ukulele lessons for 2 years at the Harrison School of Music and is also the lead singer in the school's Rock Band. Rosella's brother Russell started taking drum lessons this past summer.

"As soon as we entered, we were greeted by a warm smile and given valuable information.  In fact, the first time we walked in to inquire about lessons we were told our eldest was still a bit too young and to return in two years… now THAT really impressed us!  The HSM staff treat us like family; they really know our children… they know their ups and downs and they cheer them on and cheer them up.  They have wiped tears, given them hugs and celebrated their successes - like getting a part in their school play.  Our children happily skip into their lessons and come out giddy and excited.  We credit HSM for helping our children become more confident, independent, and creative and we are VERY grateful."

When looking for music lessons Rosella & Russel's father Dominic says that the top 3 things they wanted were (in no particular order):

"Warmth Since we (the parents) are not musical, we were concerned there would be a level of intimidation upon entering a music school program; it was the opposite at HSM, the staff are personable, kind and have really won our hearts;

Flexibility– We have busy schedules and live about 30 min away; the HSM staff went out of their way to find music lessons time slots that worked best with our schedule and did a perfect job matching our children with instructors; they also offer ample make-up lessons for when we travel in the summertime;

Quality– the school locations are beautiful and clean (our children enjoy the decorations for every holiday); the recital venues are always in lovely, convenient locations with ample parking for family and friends; and, most importantly, the staff and instructors are talented, patient and work beautifully with children."

"The school has really opened up our family to music.  The kids are flourishing and really love coming to school every week.  Rosella was able to perform at the Carnegie Hall performance and she also had the chance to go to the recording studio with the Rock Band.  In Russell’s case, music is a new great outlet for him to be creative.  He is very excited to learn and practices on his own.  He is looking forward to his first Drum set so that he can really jam at home."

~ The Paniccia Family 

Please vote for our sister school, the Harrison School of Music in Westchester Magazine's 2020 "Best of Westchester" Contest. Voting closes January 21st, 2020. Simply scroll down to  item #15: "Music Lessons",  and write in "Harrison School of Music / Harrison" and be sure to hit "Done" at the bottom for your vote to count! Thank you in advance!

The link to vote is:


December Break 
December 24th - 31st - No Lessons

January Break
January 1st - 2nd - No Lessons

Wear Your Pajamas To Lesson Week
January 25th - 31st

February Break
February 16th - 21st - No Lessons

April Break
April 12th - 18th - No Lessons
Now offering Video Based Lessons!

In order to better serve you and maintain momentum with lessons, we're excited to announce that we are now offering Video-Based Lessons!

If the weather is unsafe or you're not feeling well, or if you have a tight schedule, you don't have to miss your lesson!

Please talk to our staff about details, and please discuss with your teacher if video-based lessons are appropriate for you!

Please remember, if you are sick, please stay home! We have unlimited make-ups and never need 24 hours notice of absences! We can do a video-lesson to you at HOME during your regular lesson time. Share MUSIC, not germs!

Celebrating Student Achievement - The Musical Ladder System®

The Harrison and New City School of Music are the only music schools in Westchester and Rockland Counties that gives their students the opportunity to earn special color wristband bracelets (kids and teens love them!), trophies AND certificates for passing musical tests with the Musical Ladder System®. Do other schools offer trophies and certificates? A few. But none of them inspire their students with smiling faces by giving them full color, really cool “Musical Ladder System®” wristbands that they can show off to their friends.

More importantly when our students have a test coming up, they practice more, their parents are proud, their teachers are proud, and everybody wins!

Pictured Top Left: Guitar Student Shoma earned his Rockstar  (1 Year) Trophy and Wristband.
Pictured Top Right: Guitar Student Alyssa earned her Champion (4 Year) Trophy and Wristband.
Pictured Bottom Left: Piano Student Audrey earned her Rockstar (1 Year) Trophy and Wristband.
Pictured Bottom Right: Saxophone Student Xavier earned his Song Bird (6 Month) Trophy and Wristband.
Be on the lookout in next month's news and on our Facebook & Instagram pages for more great pics of our award winning students!

To learn more about how the system can help your child to get better grades, improved confidence, and self esteem and more, please email us at office@harrisonmusicschool.com or office@newcitymusicschool.com

Now Offering Lessons 7 Days Per Week! 

We know how busy our families are with SO many activities during the week, so we are now open on Sundays for lessons from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m to help accommodate your busy schedule!  Please see the front desk if you are interested in moving your lesson time to Sundays!

Is Your Contact Info Up To Date?

Please make sure your contact info is up to date with our office to make sure you don’t miss out on any news or announcements! 

Happy Holidays!

From all of us at the Harrison & New City School of Music, we wish you the happiest of Holidays and a Joyous New Year! Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to give you, your child and your family the gift of music - a gift that truly does last a lifetime!


New City School of Music

253 Halstead Avenue
Harrison, NY 10528


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