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Our Team

Josephine Ancelle

Josephine Ancelle
Music – French

HOBOKEN, NJ - JERSEY CITY, NJ

Spotlight

The FAA is lucky to have 3 great music teachers on our staff! Michael Browne has been teaching our elementary students for nearly a decade. Alex Madeline brings his many years’ experience with both performance and teaching to our middle schoolers. In the fall of 2021, Josephine Ancelle joined our teaching team, working with our Pre-K, K, and lower elementary students. Though Ms. Ancelle is busy working with Mr. Browne to prepare our winter show, she took the time to answer some questions for our December teacher spotlight.

 

What are some highlights from your educational or professional background, and what led you to teach music at the FAA? 

I moved to New York to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. I spent a few years writing songs, recording music, and performing in the United States and also in France. Along the way, I started teaching music to preschoolers at a French immersion preschool in Manhattan, while also getting my masters degree in Speech Language Pathology at Columbia University. I was then lucky to welcome twin girls about seven years ago and I decided to take care of them full time for their first few years. However, I quickly went back to teaching music to little ones, because I could take my daughters with me! They were my inspiration for starting music classes for babies and toddlers, and for many of the songs on the children’s album that I released in 2021. They are also my number one fans and were the ones who told Jamila Idnnajem that I was a music teacher for children when they started Kindergarten at the FAA two years ago… the rest is history!
I love teaching music, and teaching about music, to young children. And I especially love when they light up when singing or playing instruments, gain confidence, or show a different side of who they are. It is particularly interesting to me to teach music to bilingual (or multilingual) children because music and language are so cognitively intertwined. It is well-known that learning to play instruments is a whole-brain activity, meaning that it stimulates multiple aspects of the brain at once: language, executive functions such as planning, attention, inhibitory control, as well as short and long-term memory to name a few. It is also an important way to express and process emotions, or to learn about the world and about others. I try to pay attention to all of these opportunities to learn when I teach my classes.

What do you enjoy about working with our community? 

The FAA has such a wonderfully diverse community of students. This diversity is highlighted in their preferred musical styles which range from Tchaikovsky or Mozart to Anne Sylvestre or Alain Souchon to punk rock or country music. All the students are motivated (most of the time!) to sing or play music. A lot of students learn to play instruments as well so we have a good amount of musically strong students, which enables us to push everyone to learn more complicated songs or rhythms. I always say that my job is the most satisfying and fun job in the world. What can be better than making music with the pure hearts of young children?!

Aside from rehearsals with the students, what sorts of behind-the-scenes things are you doing to prepare for the winter show? 

Michael Browne and I have been talking and rehearsing together frequently to discuss song choices and musical arrangements that best suit the children’s voices. We also need to both know exactly what our roles are on the day of the show so that we can focus on supporting the children. Working on the show together is a gift that we both appreciate.

Preparing for the show is also about figuring out the logistics of the show (Who enters where and when? Who wants to shine? How do we give confidence to those who prefer hiding backstage? What material do we need? etc. ). Fortunately, the wonderful team of teachers and staff are all involved in preparing for the show. Teachers also rehearse with their students and are always available to discuss logistics or to create fun accessories. And let’s not forget Elisabeth Spettel, our art teacher, who works really hard with her students to create beautiful backgrounds for the shows.

Preparing for the show is a lot of work but it feels all worth it when I see how proud the children and parents are afterwards.

If you’d like to hear more of the music that Ms. Ancelle writes and performs, we suggest checking out her website!

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