A Musical Influence for the Ages (K-5 to be exact)

Davonna Approvato is currently an MBA/Music Management student at William Paterson University where she also received her Bachelor of Music in Voice and Music Education. Davonna currently works full time for William Paterson’s Foundation and teaches general music and private vocal lessons in Pompton Lakes, NJ.



When I think about the biggest influence on my musical life I think about stripping…

Wait. That sounds questionable. I will back-track.

When I was in first grade I remember being an attentive student in all of my subjects, with the exception of music where I was an over-energized tyrant.

A Musical Influence for the Ages (K-5 to be exact)
Davonna Approvato, age 6

Mr. Pasdfjkl;ik – yes I admit I didn’t even know my elementary music teacher’s real last name, that’s how much I didn’t like him, but I do know it started with a “P”.  

Anyway, Mr. Pasdfjkl;ik was the only true enemy I ever had. I don’t know how the war between us began, but I do remember retaliating efficiently by:

  • Being a complete distraction (complete tool) in class
  • Throwing objects
  • Cracking jokes
  • Dancing for no reason
  • STRIPPING paint of the walls

Wait! Seriously? What sensible teacher would allow a student to randomly strip paint off the walls while he/she is conducting a lesson??

….Oh, that’s right. I was a frequent of the music time-out corner, with nothing else to keep myself busy but strip paint off the walls (I obviously, got in trouble for that as well).




During that time, while I wished my music teacher was this man:

A Musical Influence for the Ages (K-5 to be exact)
Steven Tyler

He was more like this man in my eyes:

Ugh…how annoying was that video. That’s how annoying he was to me.


However, eventually Mr. Pasdfjkl;ik gave me the opportunity to sing in the 5th grade choir!!!! Which is a very big deal for a 6 year old, and another long story that should be saved for another time.

Being upgraded from paint priming to singing with the choir, I was really beginning to understand this “music” thing.


And so this man:

 A Musical Influence for the Ages (K-5 to be exact) 

is my GREATEST musical influence (….well not Ben Stein, but you know what I’m getting at) for three very solid reasons:


  1. Even thought I was a lost-cause, degenerate tyrant…he guided me to use my singing voice to express myself, and was the first person to encourage me to sing at all.
  2. Pertaining to the the performing arts, I learned discipline and self-control from him – and it really only took 10 – 15 time-outs for it to sink in!
  3. I once viewed and acted as though music was a stripping experience; an oppourtnity to strip a teacher of his sanity, strip students of their chance to focus on their own musical experience, strip the money of the tax payers of South Plainfield, NJ right off of Franklin Elementary School’s walls. HOWEVER… Mr Pasdfjkl’ik showed me that music is a giving experince. Giving your time, talent, and focus to a group and a goal bigger than yourself by giving a way-ward student a chance.



….Now I wonder if he remembers me as well as I remember him?!

The amount of therapy he probably needed to erase that trauma, I sincerely hope he does not.


Thank you Mr. Parisi.


By: Davonna Approvato, MBA/MM 2016

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