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Janie Wu, staff writer

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Prior to teaching, Mr. RubenSchnirman worked as a professional musician. He has traveled to many different places to perform including France, Italy and China. Coming out of college at Manhattan School of Music, it was hard for him to find work. Fortunately for him, there’s always a need for basses in professional orchestras and bands. He worked hard towards being aggressive about being a professional and on time so that he could get rehired. 

Eventually, his friend recommended that he try subbing, so he went to an interview at West Orange High School, where he grew up. The advisor of music and arts gave him a job as a substitute teacher. The advisor “had planted a seed and once I started subbing and liking it, just being around so many people everyday, just being engaged everyday I wanted to continue,” Mr. RubenSchnirman says. He started subbing for music classes from Pre-K to High School, working with many different students at every skill level. He started to really enjoy this job and started doing more long-term substituting and worked with the orchestras at the high school. He says that it is different in that at New Providence, there is only one orchestra for all 4 grades, but at West Orange, there are orchestras at 3 different ages and skill levels.

“It’s challenging working with kids with a huge different range of skills and abilities, but I enjoy it.” 

His music career started in 4th grade with the clarinet and gradually he became interested in the electric bass due to his friend playing it at his house with him. He started exploring the instrument and eventually found out about the upright bass and began playing. He wasn’t very good at the beginning but he got a lot of recognition, making him believe he could try out for Regionals and make it. Unfortunately, he fell short which gave him the determination to practice more and get better at it. He had put so much time into it and decided to pursue it in college. 

“It’s strange because what does lead someone to this huge decision? I can’t necessarily say, but putting so much time into bass, it was becoming a bigger part of my identity and it seemed like a logical choice. Even though it’s a huge choice,” he explains.

Currently, he is working both as a substitute teacher for Mrs. Briceno (out on maternity leave) and as a freelancing professional musician. It’s made a little bit easier to do both just because there are only concerts in the evening, not during school hours, but he does say that it requires a bit of a balance. He is planning on becoming an orchestra teacher full time, potentially for elementary school, and continuing to play professionally on the side.