By Debarati Chowdhury
Ms. Linda Tomkiw is the singular orchestra teacher at New Hyde Park Memorial High School and conducts String Ensemble. She is also the adviser for Tri-M Music Honor Society, Hindu Student Association (HSA) and Muslim Student Association (MSA).
Q: How did you feel about your first year teaching at NHP?
Ms. Linda Tomkiw: It was very different. You know, it was very different back then. I was very happy back when I started. Keeping with the times, it was an excellent high school, and it was well run. Yes I was nervous, but I had to put that aside because that couldn’t be what generated my emotions. Nerves have to be put aside for organization and putting a program together and taking it to where I wanted it to go.
Q: How has your teaching experience and style changed since your first year?
LT: With technology, everything changes, especially how one adapts to the change in society. Being able to see the different comings and goings and the different cultures moving into the community, it’s been great. Everyone just goes with the flow, so to speak, and I think the essence of everything is the same: high expectations, setting reasonable goals and adapting to the students that you have in front of you.
Source by Hannah Kim
Ms. Tomkiw prepares to instruct her orchestra students.
Q: What advice would you give to the first year teachers at NHP?
LT: Always bring your best to your classes everyday.
Q: How does the pandemic affect the way you’re teaching in the classroom?
LT: Well, I’m able to use various tools and various technologies to improve student playing. I can put lessons online, so they can see me demonstrate at home. What may happen is that by the time they get home, they may forget or didn’t quite catch it, so I‘ve got the lesson online, and they can practice along with it. I can have them submit playing examples online to me, so I can assess how they’re playing, and, you know, be specific as to ‘Okay this was good, this was good, this was good,’ or ‘This is what we need to improve on,’ and how they specifically make the improvement.
Q: What high school and college did you attend?
LT: I went to North Shore High School and Queens College.
Q: How did you get into music?
LT: It was always a part of my life, and I just felt that it was a deep passion of mine, and that’s where I needed to go.
Q: What are some of your favorite pieces to play/conduct and why?
LT: One of my favorite solos is Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. Of course I love the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, the Beethoven Violin Concerto and all of the Mozart concertos. I love Bach, all of his violin works; his unaccompanied Sonatas & Partitas are just my go-to place, when I want depth. The Mozart Requiem: I will never forget the first time I played that. Actually, the Mendelssohn Italian Symphony; I happen to particularly get a great deal of joy out of playing that one. That’s just a few.
Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of school?
LT: Well, I have my pets. I have numerous pets: I have parrots, cats, and dogs. I spend a lot of time with them, and they’re a big part of my life. And, you know, I have stuff to do for school and at home, so I’m always busy.