Anthony Maiello is professor of music at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He was awarded the title of "university professor," the highest rank given to Mason faculty. A graduate of Ithaca College with bachelor's and master's degrees, Maiello taught in public schools and at the Crane School of Music, Potsdam College of SUNY. He is the founder and conductor and artistic director of the American Festival Pops Orchestra. Maiello is a Yamaha Master Educator.
Q. When did you know that you were going to make music the focus of your professional life?
A. When I was a young boy, my family watched "The Lawrence Welk Show" on TV. Myron Floren was the band's accordion player, and I loved hearing him play. I started accordion lessons when I was in 5th grade and have played it ever since.
Unfortunately, accordion is not recognized as a "legitimate" major instrument for studying music in our country. My high school music theory teacher, Dr. Robert Campbell, was able to convince the dean of the School of Music at Ithaca College to give me one year to prove myself. I became a clarinet major after only five lessons before entering my freshman year at Ithaca College. The rest is history.
Q. What piece of music do you wish you had written and why?
A. "Symphony No. 5" by Ludwig von Beethoven is all about fate knocking at the door. What a powerful idea!
Q. Other than music, what brings you inspiration?
A. Helping others in any way I can. I recently became a Fairfax County auxiliary police officer. It required me jumping over many hurdles, including a 35-page background check vetting process that took almost a year to complete, a four-hour polygraph exam, a four-hour interview, four months of attending the Fairfax County Police Academy on evenings and weekends followed by four months training with an FCPD officer in a police cruiser to complete my training. I am required to volunteer 24 hours each month serving Fairfax County as a non-paid police officer.
Q. What is your favorite guilty pleasure food?
A. Ice cream and Cape Cod potato chips
Q. What book is on your nightstand right now?
A. I actually have four books. Two books are from my daughters. One contains my older daughter's "Letters to My Dad" and the other is a book of poems by my younger daughter. The third book is St. Jude Prayers and Novena. The fourth book is "In Conversation with God."
Q. What is the most embarrassing moment of your life that you can share?
A. Stopping an ensemble during a performance and starting over again.
Q. Why is it important to protect access to music education?
A. Music education touches the very core of our humanity. Every society has had some kind of music as part of its culture. We cannot live life to its fullest without music. I will never understand why budget cuts always target the arts. I will fight to my very last breath to keep music alive in the education of all mankind!
Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. Inconsiderate people — people who always put themselves first, before others!
Q. Which person from history, dead or alive, would you want to have lunch with and what would you discuss?
A. Beethoven and his motivation for writing "Symphony No. 5."
Q. Why is music important to humanity?
A. Music touches our hearts and souls in a way no other art form can. It keeps us in touch with our inner being and feelings, it motivates us, and gives us strength, hope and courage! Music also makes us cry, keeps us tender, caring, loving and thoughtful toward others. It is magical and the best "medicine" mankind has for the heart and soul!