3. Hey Mr DeMaio, I just wanted to say hello and to thank you for impacting my teenage years. Tho, I seemed to be outta control back then I always enjoyed your lasses.
Sincerely, Laura Dell Courtney (Class 1977)
1. I could gush for pages about all the work that Mike DeMaio poured into our 1979-80 senior musical ("Camelot"), but instead I'll name a gift he gave me years before. One day in my seventh-grade music class, he did something radical: he took a vinyl disc of Elton John's Greatest Hits, put it on the turntable, and played the first few scratchy bars of "Rocket Man." After 15 seconds or so he lifted the needle, full stop, and talked passionately about those opening bars: what was there, what wasn't there, how it worked. Just a piano and voice at first . . . spacious, lonely . . . and the lyrics, what exactly were they saying? What did they suggest? Then he started the track again, and again played just the first few bars. Only after half a dozen repeats did he finally let the track go a little farther, to where the third instrument, the bass, drops in. I had never consciously heard a bassline before that moment. Bit by bit he took us through that song, unpeeling its structure and sound and lyric, play after play after play. As I remember it, we heard the earlier parts of that song dozens of times. And then, finally, he let the whole thing rip from start to finish, gave us one glorious all-at-once listen. That day, in that one lesson (or was it two?), he taught us by example that good music repays the best, smartest, most open-hearted attention we can bring to it. I haven't forgotten. Thanks for all the tens of thousands of songs I've heard better since that long-ago day, Mike. I still love "Rocket Man," and I still love you.
~ Larry Gilman (Lorenzo, the Magician in Camelot.)
Thank you so much Laurie! I can't believe it.
Reading all those notes brought tears to my eyes.
I loved what I did, and I loved all of you with all my heart. I was blessed to have ended up at NWR.
The community trusted me with their children, and
I was always so gratified, and humbled by that.
There is nothing more important than a child finding
a place where they fit in, and where they can grow
in mind and spirit among others like them.
- Mr. Michael DeMaio Homage
Today's update: March 2019
Thank you to all of you who have shared
fun and loving notes. Mr. and Mrs. DeMaio
have been so touched by these thoughtful gifts.
And, sent a beautiful heart felt, thank you.
See Mikes response, and new details regarding his
latest off-Broadway show, One Summer Morning.
(Over there all the way over to the right.)
Visit here whenever you need inspiration, a smile,and or a hug. And please feel free to let others know who might like to share as well. Please private message me on FB,
Laurie Cagno Witter or
(The notes are in the order received.)
The first musical production was, Brigadoon.
The second musical was Camelot.
This link is a gift of 300 photos from Larry Gilman.
8. “I remember my first class with Mr. DeMaio, a 9th grade chorus class and I was not a good singer. But somehow I ended up singing in County Chorus that year and he was so supportive. He was always generous with a bright smile and words of encouragement. And he loved playing The Beatles in class! But I think my biggest memory of him - and an impression that has stayed with me to this day - is the day John Lennon was killed. We had an assembly that afternoon and people were shocked and upset. Mr. DeMaio played ‘Imagine’ on his piano and led us all in singing. It was a moment I’ll never forget...such humanity. He’s the kind of person
who makes a great teacher.
[❤️] ”. ~ Lori Simonetti Sorentino
9. Dear Mr. DeMaio, Thank you for your kind heart, patient ear, our choir talks, and stage set walks. Especially, guiding me so gently to sing on stage in front of the entire student body and family and friends. Knees knocking, during my first. Carol King song, I feel the Earth Move under my feel.. And, OMG, A Few of My Favorite Things... skipping through the audience with a basket of flowers.
During the first three Musicals, Brigadoon, Camelot and Music Man. A whole new world opened up for so many in our high school and blossoming country town community. You have inspired us beyond our wildest imaginations, bringing out the best in everyone, lucky enough to meet you. Especially, during those challenging teenage years.
Deepest soul-filled thank you, for sharing so generously, your time, talented expertise and unconditional love of the arts and people.
With waves of love and many happy new years ahead,
Laurie Cagno Witter (class of 1981)
10. At 57, I still recall with fondness the energy and passion you shared with us during the production of Camelot. It went beyond the music and the production, though. That corner of the school building became a safe and nurturing space for so many of us. We were encouraged to take risks, try harder, make mistakes and connect with each other and ourselves in new ways. That formed a bond we will never forget. My own daughter found HER safe space in theater in high school, and is has carried over into her college studies. She told me it is the one place where she can be fully herself, free of judgment. Thank you for opening that world to us, and for guiding us Brenda Griesman Considine (class of 1980)
11. Mr Demaio, Thank you for doing a fantastic job directing Camelot back in 1980! It was truly one of
THE BEST experiences of my life and so much fun.
You created a show that was entertaining and delightful as well as a family of students who were eager to part of this production. You are, and always will be, a shining star! Warmly, Mary (Barnett) Campagna (class of 1980)
12. Mr. DeMaio. One of my favorite teachers. He treated me like a young adult. He helped me realize I had a voice literally and figuratively. ~ Lori Cain
2. In 7th or 8th grade music class, he was discussing the Beatles. He thought part of their stage appeal was that Paul played the guitar left-handed. This allowed him to easily share a mike with John or George and also gave them visual symmetry. I think about that whenever I see clips of the
Beatles on stage. ~ Walt Shotwell. (1977-78ish)
5. Dear Mr. DeMaio, Thank you so much devoting your time and talents to the growth and development of high school students. Today, almost 35 years after high school, I only sing in the context of worship in church (well, sometimes in shower too). I'm a pastor and I lead the closing hymn immediately following the sermon in our order of worship. Otherwise, I only sing as a member of the congregation (not in a choir, not as a worship leader, etc.). To this day, my love of singing and my ability to carry a tune -- I attribute them to my experiences with you in NWR choir and musicals.
My father had always loved American musicals. Sometime in early high school he took me to see Oklahoma! on Broadway.
In tenth grade, I was a student at another school, but for some reason that I can no longer remember, I went to see the NWR production of West Side Story. That would have been the spring
of 1982. I was mesmerized. The cast seemed like actors well
beyond the high school level to me.
The next year I transferred to NWR for my junior year. I didn't think I was capable of anything like what I saw in West Side Story. I can't remember why I tried out for South Pacific. I had no experience singing or acting. I know that my dad was excited about my audition -- he was not super involved in my life at that point, but he helped me prepare a simple song and dance routine for the audition. I specifically remember which room it was in our home in Hardwick where he would help me practice for the audition. And somehow I got a part -- I was fairly clueless as to what acting was all about, but I learned bit by bit. The whole cast was great, but I especially remember the wonderful acting and humor of Jenny Feldman as Bloody Mary and Jeff Gardner as Billis. You were so creative in putting the shows together.
I remember the chorus of sailors holding all the edges
of a large blanket and using it to toss Jenny high up into the air.
That would have been John Kosberg's senior year -- there are two reasons I remember that: I remember the senior class' performance of Dracula. But more than that I remember the barbershop quartet that year (John was the bass). That quartet was really quite remarkable, in my opinion. A special privilege for me as a high school student to hear that unique genre done so well!
The next year was my senior year, and I got a role in Charlie Brown. Peanuts had long been my favorite cartoon strip, so it was especially exciting for me to be part of that production. If I remember it correctly, you would play the Vince Guaraldi piano music as accompaniment. The only problem was that now for the first time
I had to sing solos! You had to work with me quite a bit to help me sing in proper rhythm. Lori Nienstadt was especially good as Lucy.
I don't think Kevin Boland had been involved in musical before, but he made a great Linus. Bob Sherman and I had a lot of fun
interacting as Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
Perhaps my favorite high school memory.
I was only at NWR for two years, but what I remember most is how approachable you were. You were a strong leader, director, teacher, and yet at the same time you made it easy for us students to relate to you. A wonderful combination of authority and love. I lost my senior year high school yearbook some time back, but I remember that you wrote a lengthy note to me in it. My first job out of graduate school was as a high school theology/Bible teacher (did that for about 8 years). I would always ask seniors if I could sign their yearbooks. I always tried to write something encouraging -- specifically because of my experience of you having written something meaningful to me in my yearbook.
You made a significant difference in my life
and I remain very grateful.
-- Stefan Matzal, Syracuse, NY. (December 18, 2018)
Website Tour Guide
- Eyes of the World
(Cuzzie cover love of a Grateful Dead song.)
- Press Peeks
- Entire Exclusive Interview with
Montage Magazine. ~ Bill Nutt
- Mr. Michael DeMaio Homage (current page)
(Beloved retired high school music teacher, musical arranger, composer, off-Broadway director)
- Critics Corner Interview (embracing love)
- Music Head Magazine interview
Review, seven title pages with sub-pages.
At the very top.
Note, waves of musician's credits
here, there and everywhere.
7.Dearest Mr. DeMaio, I'm so grateful for this opportunity to thank you for all that you have taught me! It's been many years but I'll never forget!! Some teachers make a difference in a young person’s life! That was definitely you for me!!! Congratulations on all your success!! Much Love to you Always, Bonnie Mitchell Davitt (December 19, 2018)
beloved high school music teacher
Surprise, surprise!! Dear Mr. DeMaio,
Happy new year with notes of appreciation from
us lucky students and others who simply want to
let you know how much we appreciate you
and your family for sharing you with us.
4. Blessings to a great teacher, a great coach, and a man I have always respected, thank you for your friendship! ~ Danny Cappiello
6. Dear Mr. DeMaio, Dreamers, misfits, and bards were we. I will be forever grateful for you creating a place where we could "fit in", express ourselves, and be a part of something that grew our creativity while still challenging us. All of these prepared us for our individual journeys in life and gave us a youth to smile back on. Love you, Lori Nienstedt (December 18, 2018)