Meet Our Alumni

Ranging from high school band teachers to working in Hollywood film music, our music alumni apply their degree in many ways.

Impressed by our alumni? Check out what our current students are up to!

Jessica Abbazio

2005, BM Music Education

Jessica graduated from Mason in 2005 with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, playing French horn in multiple ensembles. Most recently, she has been hired as a full-time Music Librarian at the University of Minnesota. Prior to her arrival to Minnesota, she completed a Ph.D. in Musicology at the University of Maryland (2016), where she studied Italian-language comic opera of the mid-eighteenth century and the music of Antonio Salieri, and a Master of Library Science with a specialization in Music Librarianship at Indiana University, Bloomington (2018). Jessica is an active member of the Music Library Association, currently serving on the Membership Committee and the Career Development & Services Committee, as well as in a co-coordinator role for the Career Development & Services Committee’s New Members Forum.

Nick Thompson

2016, BM Performance

Nick Thompson is a versatile orchestral and chamber musician based out of the Ann Arbor, MI area. Nick recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master of Music degree in Clarinet Performance and also graduated cum laude from George Mason University with a Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance. Nick was recently appointed to the position of Principal Clarinet with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra and also holds the position of 2nd/Eb Clarinet with the Flint Symphony Orchestra and 2nd Clarinet with the Lima Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed frequently with the Toledo Symphony as well as various other orchestras such as the Savannah Philharmonic, Kalamazoo Symphony, Adrian Symphony, Berkshire Opera Festival Orchestra and many others.

Sarah Moyers

2017, BM Jazz Studies

Sarah Moyers has recently graduated from basic training and has gained a position as a vocalist with the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band! She will be performing with four total groups: the Blue Aces (rock/pop/Motown), Full Spectrum (pop/rock), the Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble (jazz/Latin), and the Concert Band (jazz/Broadway/patriotic).

Ocie Banks

2016, BM Music Education

Ocie is the Vocal & General Music teacher and chorus director at Rosaryville Elementary School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland where he is building a music program and assisting his colleagues to incorporate Music and the Arts into the daily curriculum. Rosaryville Elementary school is one of the arts-integration schools within Prince George’s County.

Ocie was recently nominated by his principal as a recipient of the Male Educator Network of Prince George’s County Public Schools (Men Of PGCPS) Award. He was honored with this award on June 19, 2017. His consistent professionalism with parents, commitment to his school & students, and innovation in education are some of the key characteristics that made him worthy to receive this award.

Ocie graduated from George Mason University with his Bachelor of Music Education degree in May 2016. He studied voice with Prof. John S. Aler. His Music Ed. Mentor was Dr. Lisa A. Billingham. 

Andrew Dougherty

2015, BM Performance

In May 2017, Andrew graduated with an M.M. in Music Performance from the University of Maryland where he studied with David Fedderly, and in 2015 he completed a B.M. in Music Performance at George Mason University where he studied with Andrew Hitz. Throughout his college career, Andrew has played in the Disneyland All-American College Band, Bar Harbor Brass Week, and U.S. Air Force Collegiate Symposium. He won the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Mock Band Audition Competition in 2017 and also won the Tuba and Euphonium Quartet competition at NERTEC 2017.

After serving two years as the Auditions Coordinator & Recruitment Assistant for the Mason School of Music, Andrew won a tuba position with the West Point Band. Duties in this position are to perform for the Corps of Cadets in ceremonies, football games, and concerts, in addition to outreach events and public concerts throughout the year. The West Point Band handles the official musical requirements at the academy, including military and patriotic ceremonies, performing over 1,600 missions every year.

Susanna Kelley

2017, BA Music

Susanna Kelley graduated Magna Cum Laude from George Mason University in Spring of 2017. Throughout her time at Mason, she was heavily involved in several activities inside and outside of the School of Music, but it was her involvement as a School of Music Ambassador and her time working with the Office of Orientation and Family Programs and Services that sparked her interest in Student Affairs and Higher Education. As a Music Ambassador, she was able to interact with prospective students and their family members, and introduce them to the School of Music and all that is has to offer. She loved being able to help the students through their auditions, share information about Mason, and assist them in the process of choosing the right school for them. Susanna‘s time with the Orientation office, her roles both as a Patriot Leader and the Family Programs Coordinator introduced her to how important it is to have help during the transition into the college experience, arguably one of the biggest and most important transitions of someone’s life. She now serves as a College Coach for College Possible in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. College Possible is an organization that makes college admission and success possible for low-income students through a curriculum of coaching and support. As a College Coach, she will be working with a cohort of 100-120 students, coaching them through the transition to college by ensuring they establish academic skills, are connected to on-campus resources, and are assisted in the financial aid and registration processes. After her year of service with Americorps, she hopes to eventually attend graduate school for a Masters in Student Affairs and Higher Education.

Bill Podolski

2005, BM Music Education

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Bill Podolski is in his eighth year as Director of Choral Activities at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program where he teaches six middle and high choral ensembles, which collectively involve a quarter of the school’s student population. Under his direction, the choirs perform a wide range of music in the choral tradition representing different time periods, cultures and styles. Each year the high school choirs perform a major work with a professional orchestra recently including Rutter’s Mass of the Children, Fauré’s Requiem Mass, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Mozart’s Coronation Mass. Bill also brings together the annual “HBW Community Chorus,” which welcomes parents, alumni, students, teachers, staff, neighbors, etc. to rehearse a few times and perform at the Winter Choral Concert. His choirs are frequent recipients of invitations to perform throughout the country and in major concert halls, and have performed at the Washington National Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Ford’s Theater and with the City Choir of Washington, Jane Franklin Dance Company and Choralis. In November of 2015, HBW Chamber Singers offered a featured performance at the Virginia Music Educators Association Conference.

Bill also produces and directs the annual HBW High School Musical Production. Past shows have included FootlooseLes MisérablesOklahoma!, and West Side Story. With an average involvement of 100 high school students as actors, pit musicians or techies, the musical production includes 25% of the high school population. Earlier this year, Bill was recognized by the Arlington Chapter of AAUW for Excellence in Arts Education in Arlington Public Schools with his production of Footloose.

In addition to his duties at H-B Woodlawn, Bill serves as Secondary Lead Choral Teacher for Arlington Public Schools. He is also an active adjudicator, conductor and singer, who has conducted several All-District Choirs throughout Virginia, and currently sings with the Voce Chamber Singers.

Prior to H-B Woodlawn, Bill taught at Forest Edge Elementary School, Reston, VA, as general music teacher, drama coach and department chair. In 2007 he was awarded PTA Teacher of the Year and in 2008 his colleagues honored him with the Staff Recognition Award. Bill has also served as the Assistant Conductor for the Choralis Foundation for three seasons, and as Director of Music Ministry for St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Sterling.

Bill is an active member of ACDA and NAfME. In 2008 he was awarded the Colleen Kirk Award by the Southern Division of ACDA for dedication and excellence in the first three years of teaching. He has served on the planning committee of the ACDA Voices United Regional Conference for the past 10 years, as well as the 2015 ACDA Southern Division conference. Bill is the former Membership Chair and the current President of the Virginia Chapter of ACDA.

Matthew Stensrud

2013, MM Music Education

LOCATION: HARPERS FERRY, WV DATE: November 23, 2013 -- CAPTION: Engagement Session of Matthew and Michael. CREDIT: Jay Premack

Matthew Stensrud is currently in his seventh year teaching kindergarten through fifth grade general music at Annandale Terrace Elementary School, a Title I public school in Fairfax County, Virginia. He received his Master in Music Education from George Mason University in 2013 and Bachelor in Music Education from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2010. An avid Orff Schulwerk educator, he completed his Orff Schulwerk certification through George Mason University in combination with the San Francisco International Orff Course and is an Orff Schulwerk approved Teacher Educator of Movement.

Matthew frequently writes about and presents workshops across the country on the unique combination of Responsive Classroom and Orff Schulwerk in the elementary music classroom. He served on the board of the Middle Atlantic Chapter of the American Orff Schulwerk Association and was a key content contributor for the recently published Responsive Classroom for Music, Art, PE and Other Special Areas. He continues to work with the George Mason community through guest lectures for the undergraduate general music methods course and serving as a cooperating teacher for seniors in Mason’s music education program.

He also serves as Lead Mentor for Annandale Terrace Elementary and is a Pyramid Leader for Fairfax County Public Schools. Matthew is also involved in federal and state policy and advocacy, is a member of the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) Advocacy Leadership Force, an Influence Leader with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and was selected as part of twelve arts educators from across the country to meet with the Department of Education and Secretary John B. King, Jr. to speak on the importance of arts in education earlier this summer. One of his recent articles, What Students Have to Gain From the Arts, was published by both The Education Trust and NAfME.

Beyond the classroom, Matthew is also active in his local community and is Chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts. There, he works with local citizens and government officials on arts policy regarding public art, arts and culture, grants programs, education, and more. He lives with his husband, Michael Cohen, in the Alexandria neighborhood of Del Ray.

Lynn Wildman

2005, BA Music

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Melinda (Lynn) Wildman has been an active participant in the George Mason community from the time she was a student in the School of Music through her eight year tenure as Academic Advisor.  Originally from Rochester, New York, Lynn was drawn to Mason by its world-renowned faculty and wealth of opportunities in the Northern Virginia and Greater Washington Metro area.  During her time as a student at Mason, Lynn was involved in many on-campus activities, such as her fraternity Alpha Xi Delta, volunteering to raise awareness for the Autism Speaks campaign, bleeding Green and Gold at Mason basketball games with the Pep Band, and forming partnerships with professors, faculty, staff, and students that have lasted up to the present day.  Lynn graduated in 2005 with a BA in Music and a Minor in Psychology.

After her graduation, Lynn remained in the area, and in 2007 was given the opportunity to continue her bond with George Mason and the School of Music in the capacity of Academic Advising.  Lynn has been recognized by her peers for her distinguished service to the University.  In 2015, Lynn was awarded the highest achievement that Mason offers its advisors when she was voted the Academic Advisor of the Year; this award is special because it is determined by direct feedback from faculty, staff, and most importantly, the students themselves.

Lynn currently works as an Academic Advisor at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Check in with other College of Visual and Performing Arts Alumni!