The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

Percussionists With A Passion

Luca-Anello-Fiorina and Michael Piccolo selected for the North Jersey School Music Association Region I Honors Band
Michael Piccolo
Piccolo’s drum set at home.

As students make the transition from middle school to high school, they must decide whether to continue with certain electives such as choir or band, while juggling the balance of required academic courses. 

For freshmen Luca Anello-Fiorina and Michael Piccolo, their music passion carried over with them to KHS. Both percussionists have worked tremendously hard and were recently selected for the North Jersey School Music Association Region I Honors Band. 

They were among 500 auditioning students from every high school in Northern New Jersey. Band teacher Ryan Stroud says, “The audition is blind, meaning the judges cannot see who the students are, so they have to judge the kids on their playing ability only.”

Both students participated in band at Pearl R. Miller, taught by percussionist Brian Scanlon. Since then, Stroud has witnessed tremendous growth in the time that he has been their teacher. “I met them last year about this time and it’s been fun to watch them progress with their various musical endeavors.”

Piccolo, who has been playing since third grade, is passing on his family’s history of percussionists. Apart from finding it a fun activity, he enjoys the inventive nature of the instrument. “I like that it’s always different; it’s always something new and it’s a different experience with different groups of people.”

Even though he follows sheet music when playing in band, he gets to add his own feel to the music. “Sometimes I get to experiment with it and play whatever I want and it’s fun and creative.” Stroud adds that his hard work and ability to add a “very unique feel for music” is what drives him to perform how he does. 

While many may think percussion is simply hitting the drums, there is a great deal of responsibility. They must become an expert on “dozens of instruments that each have their specific technique,” according to Stroud. 

Anello-Fiorina has years of practice in becoming an expert. He began as a pianist, teaching him how to read music and develop technique, rhythm, and music theory. While he still plays, he picked percussion in fifth grade. 

He had a very successful year in eighth grade when he was accepted into the Junior North Jersey Area Band as third chair and Intermediate North Jersey Region Band and Orchestra as second chair. Last March, he was Jazz Music Student of the Month at the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown and even got the chance to meet Wynton Marsalis, a renowned trumpeter and composer, after his performance.

As shown by his participation in band over several years, he has put in a great deal of time and effort. Stroud says, “Luca is one of the hardest-working students I’ve known recently. He’s very dedicated to his craft and very interested in learning.” 

One of his favorite parts of being in musical groups with many other students is the connection with people. He says, “Playing for others and being with my friends is what makes it fun; it’s a really good environment.”

Their constant need to perform alongside other students, however, creates doubt in themselves and their abilities. Anello-Fiorina says, “Sometimes I don’t feel like I am as good as I should be, especially when watching everyone else around me.” Looking to his future allows him to focus on his own potential rather than someone else’s. “I want to get my technique down and become the best that I can be.”

Similarly, Piccolo combats this by, “trying not to think of how some people are better than me, I just focus on how I’m doing.”

After being selected, both students will now be performing on Jan. 28 at 3:00 at Parsippany Hills High School. They also qualified to audition for the New Jersey All-State Band on Jan. 20. 

Stroud emphasizes that both students have an amazing talent and passion for music.

They’re both tremendous assets to our band program and we’re proud to have them. They were selected to the Region Band because they kicked butt at their audition; they earned their spots!”

— Stroud













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