The world of music is a canvas painted with passion, talent, and the indomitable spirit of musicians who dedicate their lives to nurturing the art. Today, we gather here not in sorrow but in profound gratitude to commemorate the life and legacy of one such remarkable musician and beloved faculty member, Eric Phinney.
Eric Phinney’s sudden passing sent ripples of grief through our music school community, leaving a void that can never truly be filled. But in our collective mourning, we also find solace in the beautiful memories, valuable lessons, and the enduring impact he has had on each one of us.
Meeting Eric Phinney
Eric’s ability to forge instant connections transcended his role as a teacher; he was a friend, mentor, and confidant to all.
“I met Mr. Eric at Bloomingdale School of Music. He was my drum teacher. He taught me the fundamentals of drumming. Mr. Eric brought the drums to life for me. I miss him every day and appreciate the time I got to spend with him. He will always be a wonderful person to me. Fly high! ❤️ ” – Justin Rodriguez, Eric’s student
“I met Eric playing Ghanian drums in the Rhythm Monsters West African percussion ensemble when I first moved to NYC in 2005. We shared a love of Indian classical music as well, and both were students of Samir Chatterjee, his tabla guru. After meeting in the doorway of Bloomingdale every other Tuesday for many years to drive with Eric out to where we rehearsed in Boonton, NJ, I learned more about the school and eventually applied to teach there myself, thanks to Eric telling me about the opening in the voice department. We went on to share in many teaching moments, in addition to bimonthly percussion rehearsals and numerous concerts.” – Jocelyn Medina, Eric’s friend, bandmate, and colleague
“I met Eric at my son Taylor’s first percussion lesson in early 2018. Eric’s warm smile and easy manner instantly won both of us over. From then on, Taylor looked forward to his lessons every single week for the next six years. It was a joy to watch Eric teach, and I treasure the videos we have from lessons and performances. Eric was a wonderful teacher and became an important mentor to Taylor.” Joanna Maurer, parent of Eric’s student
“When I first joined the Bloomingdale Team I was greeted by many faculty and Eric popped by one afternoon with a shoulder full of drums and said “You’re going to like it here. Glad to have you!” – Laura Gravino, Eric’s supervisor and colleague
Memorable Moments with Eric
Through countless recitals, rehearsals, lessons, and late-night jam sessions, Eric infused our lives with music, laughter, and a profound sense of belonging.
“I just loved our lessons, especially last year before he passed. He was such a great person and often our lessons would be filled with not only his instruction but also us talking and laughing about things related or not related to percussion. I also have memories from when I first started taking lessons with him where I was amazed at how skillfully he played the drums which I will never forget.” – Taylor Austin, student
“Eric and I often collaborated on MAP and student’s music projects over the years. He was an incredible musician and an extremely caring teacher. He built trusted relationships with his students and they were motivated and inspired by him, both as a person with a gentle and caring demeanor and as a passionate percussionist who drew you to his music-making with his intense focus and presence.” – Eric’s friend and colleague
“Eric and I instantly clicked over our mutual love for Chelsea Football Club, so our chats were often 50% percussion talk and 50% soccer tactics/debate on who should replace our most recently fired coach. As a diehard fan, I was really impressed with how clued up he was about the club’s history – something he followed since a trip some decades earlier. We also geeked out about drums regularly on the fifth floor, I especially admired his expertise in the Tabla and other Indian percussion. He was a wonderful player across multiple different styles and instruments and an inspirational colleague.” – Douglas Marriner, Eric’s colleague and friend
“Performing ensemble music with Eric by Pierre Boulez, John Cage and George Crumb. We were also part of a small ensemble that did concerts in NYC, Virginia and Florida. I had some fun road trips with Eric and we had lots of good laughs and meaningful music making.” – Marc Peloquin, Eric’s colleague and friend
Eric’s Impactful Support and Advice
Eric’s words of wisdom were more than just guidance; they were a source of inspiration, guiding us through the highs and lows of our musical pursuits.
“Eric was always so understanding. If I couldn’t practice because of another commitment he never made me feel bad and didn’t get mad at me, which was a real change from all of my previous music instructors on other instruments. He was so warm and friendly and made me look forward to coming to lessons and playing the drums. Eric let me pick songs to practice that I liked and he was open to letting me experiment with music choices.” – Eric’s student
“Eric was so good at helping Taylor prepare, whether it was for a performance, jury, masterclass, or audition. In particular, last year he helped Taylor prepare for summer music camp auditions. It was going to be Taylor’s first time attending a music camp. As we looked at lots of programs, Eric gave us great advice. He prepared Taylor so well for his auditions that he got in everywhere he applied! Taylor ended up at Kinhaven in Vermont, and had a fabulous, life-changing summer. He performed so many incredible pieces and learned so much, and couldn’t wait to come home and share it all with Eric. He never got that chance… Although Taylor misses Eric so much – they were set to begin the journey of getting Taylor ready for college auditions – Eric has given him so very much and will continue to be with him always. Especially when, eyes closed, they both become one with the music.” Joanna Maurer, Parent of Eric’s student
“The day after I messed up on a recital. He told me that it happens to everyone and he provided a lot of support and made me feel better about the situation.” – Daniel Perez Ponce, Eric’s student
“I always admired Eric’s way of teaching and interacting with his students. He was kind and caring, while encouraging students to achieve their best. While coaching the Orchestra, he has this rare balance of guiding the musicians while giving them enough freedom to express themselves. It’s a huge loss for all of us, Eric will be missed.” Olga Gurevich, Eric’s colleague
“His general nature was supportive and generous. When you were around Eric you had a sense that everything was going to be ok. My friendship with him had, and will always have, a significant impact on me.” – Marc Peloquin, Eric’s colleague and friend
We Will Miss You
As we bid farewell to Eric Phinney, we do so with heavy hearts, but also with immense gratitude for having known him. He was not just a faculty member but a guiding light, a friend, and an irreplaceable part of our musical family.
“Eric was one of the nicest and most laidback people I ever met. He never made me feel stressed or anxious and I would always walk away from our lessons in a good mood. I miss him dearly and I will not soon forget the positive energy he always brought with him.” – Taylor Austin, Eric’s student
Eric made such an enormous impact on so many peoples’ lives. And he did it all so quietly and with much humility. I miss him. But, I continue to hold him in my heart and in my music.” – Teresa Payne, Eric’s colleague
“Although I was not a close friend or associate with Eric, I always admired his extraordinary talent as a musician and teacher. He was a consummate professional on every level. I will always remember being wowed by his performances and those of his students.” – Monica Verona, fellow faculty member at Bloomingdale
I am ever grateful for having Eric as a fantastic and creative colleague. His legacy will live on with his fellow musicians, appreciative audiences, colleagues, friends and students. He was my friend and I will miss him. Rest in peace Eric. Love you friend.” – Marc Peloquin, Eric’s colleague and friend
In the world of music, our paths often intersect with extraordinary souls like Eric Phinney. Their legacy lives on not only in the notes they played but in the lives they touched. As we reflect on this tribute, may we find comfort in the shared memories and the knowledge that Eric’s music will forever resonate in our hearts.
We will be honoring Eric at a memorial co-hosted with Young Audiences New York, where Eric also taught for 21 years:
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Advent Lutheran Church
2504 Broadway, New York, NY 10025
4 – 6 pm
RSVP at this link: Remembering Eric Phinney Memorial Concert