It’s probably safe to say that Rosario Fuschetto ’18 & ’19 is the only music student at The Crane School of Music who also plays video games professionally. When he’s not conducting, playing his clarinet or teaching music theory, you’ll find him grinding it out on the old school Nintendo Game Cube on “Super Smash Brothers Melee”—a game he’s mastered as much as his music pedagogy.
“I travel across the world to perform in tournaments. I’m a top 50 player in my respective game. I actually had a sponsorship with a team that flew me out to a bunch of events. That’s something that I do in my spare time, a very underground thing that I don’t talk about a lot,” he said.
Fuschetto said that he’s made $3,000 playing the game this year and that a lot of his travel and tournament costs have been covered through team sponsorship. “It’s a little bit of a hobby but also a passion, at the same time as being a music teacher,” he said.
After getting his bachelor’s degree in music education in May, Fuschetto returned to campus this fall for an intensive one-year master’s program in music education—a decision that went hand-in-hand with his goal to improve his teaching skills before landing his first job as a music teacher.
“The biggest inspirations that I get from my time here at Crane are the professors who have a lot of expectations for you, but at the same time are measuring those expectations with being understanding,” Fuschetto said.
This semester he’s finetuning his conducting chops while working with Dr. Joshua Roach and the Campus Community Band—a unique band on campus comprised of both music and non-music majors and local community members. Fuschetto is conducting Mark Williams’ arrangement of the “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky, rehearsing weekly with the musicians in preparation for their concert in December.
Fuschetto has grown as a conductor from working with professors like Dr. Brian Doyle who has conducted 10 of Fuschetto’s performances with the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. While playing the clarinet with the ensemble during his sophomore year, Fuschetto was also taking conducting classes with Doyle. “I think he’s just such a brilliant professor and he has a wonderful conducting technique, which is so clear to understand. He’s a big inspiration for me in my own conducting,” Fuschetto said.
“The biggest inspirations that I get from my time here at Crane are the professors who have a lot of expectations for you, but at the same time are measuring those expectations with being understanding."
He has also worked closely with his studio professor, Dr. Julianne Kirk Doyle, who has provided him with clarinet lessons since his freshman year. “She makes understanding clarinet problems and issues very simple. She can really break it down,” Fuschetto said.
On the theory side of music education, Fuschetto tutors Dr. Jessica Suchy-Pilalis’ music theory students and recently taught sections of her music theory and aural skills classes. “She’s such a wonderful woman. She’s so brilliant and very understanding,” he said.
Some of his most valuable training has been in the field. Last spring, Fuschetto had a hands-on experience teaching elementary and high school students during his student teaching placement in Long Island. For the first half of the semester, he worked at Albany Avenue Elementary School. “I would make a lesson plan for each level that I was teaching, and each day I would teach three to four classes, Monday through Friday—it was very, very intense,” he said.
For the second half of the semester, his placement was at East Meadow High School where he was tasked with overseeing a group of ninth grade musicians, providing them with private lessons and conducting them in rehearsals. “I think that my favorite part about teaching is being able to make people realize that it’s easier than they make it out to be. My main goal always is to make it so that the student is less frustrated and they understand it in a way that makes sense to them,” he said.
He was also lucky enough to work with three teachers who specialized in different instruments—one percussion, one woodwind and one brass. “It was invaluable. When one of them was busy, I had two more teachers to go hang out with. I had a plethora of knowledge constantly being thrown at me the entire time I was there,” he said.
Back at SUNY Potsdam, his teaching aspirations have extended beyond the classroom. Since his sophomore year, he has offered a scales and sight-reading training event to help his classmates prepare for the level A performance exam—a requirement for all Crane students to pass in order to move forward with their degree. During the exam, students must showcase their proficiency at performing a solo and playing scales.
In a small rehearsal room on the third floor of Bishop Hall, his students take turns playing their clarinets in front of the group. He calls them to the front of the room one by one, and gives them feedback and words of encouragement. “This is hard for a lot of students because it’s a lot of grinding and tedious work to make sure you understand the muscle memory and understand every single scale. I think I did a really great job at establishing a very friendly environment where people are not afraid of doing the wrong thing in front of other people,” Fuschetto said.
As he wraps up his master’s degree, Fuschetto is hoping to land a job as a high school music teacher and taking the knowledge that he learned at SUNY Potsdam with him. “I just love my time here so much at Crane and at Potsdam. I feel like this is my second home! Crane has been so good to me. It’s been such a wonderful, wonderful experience,” Fuschetto said.
Article and Photos by Jason Hunter