Vincent J. Tornello ’72 decided to attend Shenandoah University because of its small size and faculty-to-student ratio. “Shenandoah Conservatory was a caring and nurturing environment,” said Tornello. “It gave me many opportunities to participate and enrich the broad background I needed for the field of music education.”
One of Tornello’s fondest memories as a student is performing with the Shenandoah Wind Ensemble during the College Band Directors National Association conference at the University of Texas at Austin. The Shenandoah Wind Ensemble was selected as the representative group for the southern division at the conference. “A truly fantastic memory and experience with many kudos to Dr. Paul Noble for his leadership,” said Tornello.
After graduating from Shenandoah in 1972, Tornello began his career as an educator at Lane High School in Charlottesville, Virginia. In his position, he directed the marching band, organized and directed the Jazz Ensemble, and served as assistant concert band director. Tornello then went on to become the director of bands for Charlottesville High School. During his time at the high school, the band held a number of state concert and marching band records, including the Virginia Honor Band Award for 27 years, superior ratings at the grade six music level for 34 of 37 years, and 28 consecutive years of state marching assessment superior ratings. Tornello retired in 2009, serving Charlottesville Public Schools for 37 years. He currently serves as adjunct saxophone instructor for the University of Virginia Wind Ensemble.
In addition to being an educator, Tornello has served as an adjudicator, clinician and guest conductor throughout the east coast and the midwest, and has been recognized by numerous organizations for his dedication to the fine arts, as well as to the profession of education. These honors include Charlottesville Public Schools’ Distinguished Teacher Award; Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers; Virginia Music Education Association Music Educator of the Year Award; Shenandoah Conservatory of Music Alumnus of Excellence Award; Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association Honor (VBODA) Band Director Hall of Fame; VBODA Hall of Fame; Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame; the Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award; and the John Philip Sousa Foundation Legion of Honor.
The most rewarding part of Tornello’s career was having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people by giving them values and life skills for their futures. And, he believes Shenandoah prepared him for this by providing him with many skills and various possibilities to achieve success in the music education field.
Tornello’s advice to students is: “Do not be afraid or hesitate to ask questions and connect with a mentor who has been in the field for many years. Many students today have that “I know it” approach — which really does not work!”