Staff Spotlight — Phil Shapiro

Staff Spotlight — Phil Shapiro

Meet Philip Shapiro, Kids’ Orchestra’s newest Program Manager.  img_2608

Phil manages Mayfair Laboratory School, Magnolia Woods Elementary, and Dufroq Elementary.  Phil enjoys upbeat jazz music and shared some of his favorite tunes while we spoke.


KO: Let’s Start off with WHY you enjoy working with Kids’ Orchestra:

Phil: “I’m making a difference in the lives of children at an early age; We’re creating a love of music right from the start”


“Tell me more about that:”

Phil: “If you read in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, he talks about how we tend to divide, especially at an early age. We divide students by age, instead of by ability group. That grows and eventually comes true (to them) because they grow up thinking that they’re failures, that they’re worthless, that things will never work out for them because they’ve been stuck in that failure category their whole lives. And it was all because someone told them that they wouldn’t make it. So what if we go back, and we say we recognize their potential, and nurture that instead? That was a lot of my motivation for going into teaching.


“What instrument do you play?”

Phil: “Trumpet”


“What has music done for you in your life and how important or crucial has it been?

Phil: I’ve tried to think about myself not as a musician, and I can’t.

“Music has basically been my life. I started taking piano lessons in 2nd grade until I graduated high school. Before that, my father’s aunt had Alzheimer’s. I don’t remember her, but I remember her piano. Her Alzheimer’s was too advanced at the time, so she didn’t touch it, but when I went over, I would always find my way to the room with the piano. When my great aunt had passed away, they brought that piano over to my house. I started playing on it and playing on it.My sister started taking piano lessons and then, ya know, typical younger brother saying, ‘I can do better than she did’. She quit piano after that year, and I didn’t stop. And so I can’t really say what it’s done for my life, because it’s literally has been my life.


“A piano lover with a degree in Trumpet. How did you and trumpet meet?”

Phil: I’ve been playing trumpet since I was in 6th grade and it’s become a huge part of my life now, that I can’t even think about myself unless I consider myself a trumpet player. I can’t see myself any other way. That’s why I like how we’re able to bring music to the kids, because otherwise, they aren’t really around music. It’s strange to think in this 21st century, but there are still people out there who don’t have computers or CD players or record players or anything like that.


“When you were a kid, is this what you’d imagine your life to be? What did you imagine yourself doing?”

Phil: “I thought I’d be a teacher in elementary. In middle school, I thought I’d be a rockstar. I kid you not. In high school and the beginning of college, I thought I’d be a band director, but that wasn’t the life for me.”


“So what’s your degree in?”

Phil: “I was a music education major. I practiced more than the performance majors in my undergrad school, so it just became natural that I should probably switch to music performance, and I did. Both my bachelor’s and my masters are in music performance.”


“What’s your favorite kind of music?”

Phil: “It goes around with my mood, really. Like, right now, it’s a lot of jazz and certain kinds of rock, but sometimes I’ll be on a huge classical kick, and listen to a lot of Bethovan, or Havanas, or something like that. So it swings around.”


“What is your advice to the parents of the children of Kids’ Orchestra and what is your advice to the children of Kids’ Orchestra?”

Phil: “Don’t give up, and don’t let your children give up.  Everyone has potential, but too many people give up thinking they can’t when they can.  And don’t forget that it’s about having fun while improving yourself.”


“What’s the most challenging thing about working for Kids’ Orchestra?”

Phil: “OK, the hardest part I’ll say is actually the most stressful part and the part that’s almost given me a heart attack the last two days. That’s dismissal. Making sure the kids are safe when they leave us. That is the hardest part for me because you want those kids to be safe. You don’t want them to get hurt because we weren’t careful about how we dismissed them or who we dismissed them to.


“I can see how that can be scary. OK, and just a random question, what’s your favorite color?”

Phil: *Laughs* “Yea, and I don’t really have a favorite for that one either.


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