John Ginocchio Busy on Campus and Off

Published Thursday, June 29, 2017
Dr. John Ginocchio
Dr. John Ginocchio

SMSU Director of Bands Dr. John Ginocchio believes that music helps make the world go ’round, and he works hard to advance music education wherever he can.

The Waynesville, Ohio, native is heading into his 12th academic year at the University and recently completed hosting — along with Director of Choirs Dr. Stephen Kingsbury — the Minnesota Area Conducting Workshop, held at SMSU June 26-28.

“It’s open to all music educators as well as community music leaders in Minnesota and surrounding states,” he said. “This year we had 24 participants, which is a good number. There’s also no charge for the workshop.”

Participants are critiqued as they conduct lab ensembles and there are also peer review sessions. “Then in the afternoon we had sessions where we discussed topics relevant in music education. We also talked a lot about touring (with various music groups).”

Ginocchio said the Minnesota Area Conducting Workshop was open to both instrumental and choral conductors “and that’s unique. Most don’t offer both. But in some of our smaller school districts, one person is often the band and choir director. As far as conducting band and choir, there are a lot of techniques that are the same, but some of the approaches may be different in terms of descriptions, body carriage and facial expressions.”

Ginocchio has also headed up a guest artist series at the University since his arrival, bringing in professional musicians in different genres to work with both SMSU students and area high school students. “It’s designed as a way to bring professional musicians to campus so our students learn from them, and learn what it means to be a professional,” he said. “Students can see their ability level, how they go about things, what their everyday life is like. It’s really been a wonderful addition; it’s helped individuals and ensembles improve.

“While they’re here, too, they share their experience with area high schools. We’ve worked with students in at least 15 area high schools.”

The visiting artists have “mostly been jazz artists,” he said, “but we’ve also had composers and others. Each brings their own expertise to whatever SMSU group they work with. It’s a great way for me to learn from them, as well.”

Ginocchio received his master’s in trombone performance and his doctorate in conducting and music education from Ball State University.

He’s a member of the Marshall City Band in the summer months, as well as other community ensembles. He’s also played in a number of pit orchestras for area plays.

In the fall, he assists with the Marshall High School marching band, and also travels to area high schools to work with bands and assists at clinics. “I get a lot of questions during the year, too, from directors about music or equipment and how to set up their (music) rooms.”

Both Ginocchio and Kingsbury also work individually with high school students who want to try out for the All-State Band or Choir.

For years, he was the band director of the Minnesota Boys State band, when it was held on the campus of SMSU.

What’s he like about SMSU? “The small environment where you get to know the students, and the people I work with. I like the fact that my colleagues and deans and administrators trust me and let me try things."

And while he says that classical music and band are two of his favorite areas of music, he said he also has a real passion for jazz.

He created the SMSU/Community Concert Band at SMSU, which allows SMSU students to play alongside members from the public who have an interest in music.

Southwest Minnesota has a strong emphasis on the arts, something he appreciates. “To me, Marshall is the artistic hub of southwest Minnesota. If someone wants to experience the arts, there are opportunities in other communities, but the majority take place in Marshall. We have the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council here, MAFAC, MASC, the Prairie Dance Alliance. There’s a rich tradition in the arts here, and they are supported.”

If he had time to cook, “I’d spend two to three hours making a nice meal. That’s time well spent for me. My best dish is Lasagna Bolognese.” He donates an Italian dinner for eight at each year’s University Gala, and hosts it in his home. “Dr. Kingsbury selects the wine, and Dr. (Dan) Rieppel also assists.”

Ginocchio and his wife, Leanna, are the parents of two children: Jacob, 15, and Kayli, 19.