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 made $3,000 playing the game as a graduate student and that a lot of his travel and tournament costs were 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 2018, Fuschetto returned to campus in the 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 inspiration that I got from my time at Crane was from my professors," Fuschetto said. "They have a lot of expectations for you, but at the same time are measuring those expectations with being understanding.”
While working on his graduate degree in music, he fine-tuned his conducting chops while working with Dr. Joshua Roach and the Campus Community Band—a unique musical group on campus comprised of both music and non-music majors and local community members. Fuschetto conducted Mark Williams’ arrangement of the “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky, and rehearsed weekly as they prepared for their upcoming performance.
Fuschetto grew as a conductor as he worked with professors like Dr. Brian Doyle in the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. “He’s 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.
“I just loved 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."
He has also worked closely with his studio professor, Dr. Julianne Kirk Doyle, who 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 was a tutor for Dr. Jessica Suchy-Pilalis, teaching 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 was in the field. His final semester as an undergraduate student, Fuschetto taught elementary and high school music students 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 extended beyond the classroom. Starting his sophomore year, he offered a scales and sight-reading class for his classmates to help them 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 took turns playing their clarinets in front of the group. He called them to the front of the room one by one, and gave them feedback and words of encouragement. “That was 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 were not afraid of doing the wrong thing in front of other people,” Fuschetto said. “I just loved 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."
Article and Photos by Jason Hunter