Mr. Goodman talks about wide-ranging music career, directing Art House

By: Quincy A. Campbell, Staff Reporter

Mr. Alan Goodman, who joined the Thornton-Donovan faculty as K-12 music teacher this year, directed his first Art House Cafe in November. He talked to the Overlook Journal about that experience as well as a music career that has taken him around the world and into recording studios and classrooms.

What is your background in music?

“I’ve been a professional musician for as long as I can remember. I have toured all over the world. I’ve lived in a lot of places. I’ve dealt with a lot of people and have done lots of records and a lot of studio work. I have done a lot of composing. I have my own private teaching business where I have been teaching for a long, long time. I’m focusing on the ukulele mostly. This is the first official teaching gig in a school, but I’ve been involved in all the schools in the Mamaroneck School District and helping them establish a ukulele program, where I have been a district consultant there for a long time.”

How did you enjoy the Arts House Cafe?

“I had a great time. I was really impressed with the kids. I had a lot of fun preparing for it, and it was fun listening to all the stuff. It’s a lot of work, but it’s good work.”

Have you ever attended an Arts House Cafe, or anything similar to it?

“I’ve done things at that particular venue before. I’ve played there before, and my kids do recitals there, so I know the venue very well. I did look at previous Arts House Cafes on YouTube, just to get a feel of what the deal was.”

What did you find difficult or challenging about the Arts House Cafe?

“The technical aspect of it. Getting the mics set, and getting people on was challenging. I had a lot of help backstage from Greg’s mom, which was really nice, and some other people there, so everyone more or less knew when they were coming, so that went well. But just moving the mics around and getting things together. I didn’t really have as much time for a sound-check as I wanted to, so I wasn’t that happy with the quality of the sound. Next time I’ll try to get there a little earlier as far as the timing. It would be nice to actually sound-check the amps.”

Any suggestions to improve it?

“Not really. I thought the quality was pretty good. Most of the people were really well prepared. I would like to, next time, maybe get a little more orchestrated and maybe get some different groups together and put some different people together, and really work with them. But for the most part, you can tell the people worked really, really hard for what they were doing, and that was impressive. They did that kind of without me. They came in here at their lunch hours, and I gave them some direction, and I worked with some groups. For example, my first period groups, we all worked together. But a lot of them worked out on their own, which was great.”

This is a unique place. I mean, I never experienced anything like this. I love the freedom. I love the kids that are here.”

What do you enjoy most about TD?

“I like the kids. I like the interaction. I like the excitement that they bring, and I like what they bring out in me. I love showing people stuff and teaching them. Getting them excited about what I am excited about. And it’s a two way street because they get me excited about what they are excited about too, so it’s the perfect interchange. It’s like an interplay of our  personalities and our knowledge, and it’s fun to direct kids.”

Have you adapted well with the school and its faculty?

“I think so. This is all a learning period for both the students here, the staff here and me. We’re all getting to know each other, and this first quarter has been really great because I am getting to know, especially with the music classes, who can do what, who wants to do what, what I can do with them. So I am really looking forward to the next quarter, and the rest of the year too, because that was kind of like the groundwork. I can see what I really want to do with the kids, and what the possibilities are. I really see some serious possibilities here, but now it’s founded around something rather than me just expecting for me to do this. It is founded around some factual information.”

How would you characterize TD?

“This is a unique place. I mean, I never experienced anything like this. I love the freedom. I love the kids that are here. I love the thematic idea, and I love how it’s not just teaching about this particular area, but how you can tie it in to the rest of the world. There is a lot of freedom here. I like the restrictions that are placed on you because it does make you think a little bit here and there. I love the structure of the school, and I love teaching in the House. This is fun here (laughs). It’s a unique place. I come here in the morning and they’re cooking breakfast. So I smell that, and I get set up. It’s fun. I like the campus. I’m getting to know the kids, and it is a family. And it feels like a family, and I feel like I have been welcomed here.”