EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Right on beat, the district has lined up its newest music instructor to lead Fernwood Avenue Middle School’s band program after the upcoming departure of its current instructor.
Carlos Vazquez will replace Mark Kadetsky as the school’s band director starting Nov. 1, bringing with him a host of experience and performance accolades that include Broadway musical appearances, a stint in the drumline for the New York Giants and more.
With a month to go until he officially takes over, the 29-year-old Central Jersey resident is anxious to get started.
“My goal is to make an impact on the students, the program and the community,” Vazquez, of Highland Park, said. “I want the community to recognize the middle school as one of the best, and I want them to recognize the percussion program at Egg Harbor as one of the best in South Jersey.”
That all sounds like music to Kadetsky’s ears, who took a hand in Vazquez’s selection process.
“The key for us is we are striving to be innovative with our music education practices and making sure the community is into what we're doing,” Kadetsky said. “If there's one thing I have to say is the most important thing, it’s innovation within music education practices and connecting to the community through those practices.”
Kadetsky was the district’s band director for 24 years – 16 at the high school and seven at Fernwood.
But over the summer, the Board of Education promoted him as the district’s newest Supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts.
His moving on to a new position had left some wondering how that might affect the music program at Fernwood.
“It's hard to think who could fill this role and continue what he has already established,” said local parent Elizabeth Irwin, whose 13-year-old son Robert is enrolled in the music program. “After reading Mr. Vazqeuz's resume and seeing that he has such positive and impressive involvement with music in his career, we're optimistically looking forward to his knowledge being shared and integrated in the program.”
Born and raised in Newark, Vazquez graduated Rutgers University in 2012 with bachelor’s degrees in music education and psychology. Soon thereafter, he landed a full-time position with the college’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, as the Ensemble, Instrument, and Special Event Manager, where he has led all large ensembles and special events for the past four years.
Vazquez also instructs the college’s drumline unit and performs in The G Line – the official drumline of the New York Giants. He even got to appear in the Giants' 2012 Super Bowl pre-game show, overseeing Rutgers' drumline performance.
“I'm not in this profession to be average,” Vazquez said. “I've worked really hard to get to where I am, and I plan on passing that work ethic and motivation on to my students.”
A musician at heart, Vazquez also can’t resist the urge to perform when the opportunity arises.
He is an active freelance musician in the tri-state area, taking several notable gigs over the years including performing in a 2015 studio session for rap group Wu-Tang Clan, as well as playing in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show and touring with the national Broadway musical "Hair."
“There's an opportunity for me to take all my experience that I've had thus far and be able to change South Jersey,” Vazquez said.
When it comes to his duties in the district, Vazquez will oversee 100 students in Fernwood’s band program, which consists of the percussion ensemble, wind ensemble and the 95-piece concert band, according to Kadetsky.
In addition, the district plans to use his talent as a consultant for all percussion students at township schools.
“We’re excited to have Carlos in the district,” Kadetsky said. “He's going to be a resource to us as far as any percussion activities that go on in the district.”
Irwin agrees. “We're looking forward to what he has to offer,” she said. “We do feel that it was a great choice and it will definitely be a great benefit to the students.”
As for Vazquez, who is currently in the process of moving to South Jersey, coming down to Eagles country won’t be as difficult as some would imagine.
“I would say I'm pretty much used to it 'cause I'm a (Los Angeles) Rams fan, so I have no fan support around here 'cause everyone here is a Giants, Eagles or Jets fan,” he joked. “So I think I'll be fine, I'll adapt.”
Vazquez begins Nov. 1 at a salary of $55,170, according to Kadetsky.