Community get-together

Far Hills Country Day School students learned about adapted bowling during a recent visit by Matheny students and staff.

Have you ever raced in a power wheelchair? Communicated without talking? Painted without using your hands? Played basketball sitting down?

Matheny is inviting members of the Peapack-Gladstone community to find out how physical, occupational, speech, music, recreation therapy and art help improve the quality of life for its students and patients. The informal introduction to Matheny’s Therapy and Arts Access programs will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, November 2, in the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center at Matheny, 65 Highland Ave. in Peapack. This event will include fun-filled, hands-on activities that are very kid-friendly, so community members are encouraged to bring the entire family.

Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by calling (908) 234-0011, ext. 282, or emailing

A Matheny student demonstrates adapted hockey to a student at the Old Farmers Road School in Long Valley, NJ. At left is Cindy LaBar, Matheny director of physical therapy.

Swing shift

Student Bianca Mathis listens to a trumpet solo from band member Ed Beales.

The music of Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller was written before the students and patients at Matheny were born. But the children’s dining room was swinging when members of the Chatham Community Band Jazz Ensemble visited on a recent Thursday evening and presented a concert of tunes from the 1930s and ’40s. The band has been playing throughout northern New Jersey since its formation in 2007.

Programs such as this are coordinated through Matheny’s music therapy program, which employs various types of music to help develop students’ and patients’ cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills. In addition to inviting musical groups such as the CCB Jazz Ensemble to present musical programs at Matheny, the music therapy program also makes it possible for students and patients to attend outside concerts and theatre presentations.

The front line, from left, saxophonists George Estes and Peter Grice and trumpeter Ed Beales.

School choice program

Music class at the Matheny School.

The Matheny School is hosting a program on “School Choice” from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 29. The event, for parents and educators, will feature a presentation on “Parental Rights in Special Education” by Andrew D. Linenberg of Hinkle, Fingles & Prior, P.C., Attorneys at Law. There will also be opportunities for networking and information about an upcoming conference on transition and two new special education scholarships being offered by the Alliance of Private Special Education Schools of North Jersey.

Educators and/or parents interested in attending should call (908) 234-0011, ext. 234, or email by January 27.

Matheny student works on his math skills.

Musical connection

From left, Anna Spencer, Bryan Zhu, Trisha Kaundiya and Rahil Shah.

When Trisha Kaundinya and three of her friends at Bridgewater-Raritan, NJ, High School formed a string quartet, the idea was to get together every week or so to socialize and practice playing music. But Kaundinya’s father is part of a group from the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs that regularly volunteers at Matheny, helping to spruce up the grounds. “He acquainted me with the special needs of the children,” said Trisha, “and informed me that many, if not most, of them are quite capable of learning and appreciating the fine arts.”

So Kaundinya and her friends recently performed for the students and patients at Matheny and “had a wonderful experience playing,” she said. “We could sense the acknowledgement from several children. Clearly they were engaged, and we felt that they connected with us through music. We walked away with a sense of satisfaction and developed an inner urge to do more. We would love to play again in a spring concert.”

Musical interaction

Paul West in music class with student Aidan McNamara and teaching assistant Jackie Haller.

Paul West has filled several roles at Matheny and done them all well. As a teaching assistant in the Matheny School, he was named Paraprofessional of the Year. He has also worked as a recreation therapy assistant and a one-on-one aide. Now, he’ll be doing what he loves most. He has been named the school’s new music teacher.

West has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of Arts in Los Angeles and an undergraduate degree in music theory/composition from Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. He was also part of a quartet that was nominated for a Grammy Award earlier this year in the “Best Classical Compendium” category for a recording of the music of esoteric composer Harry Partch.

As music teacher at Matheny, West is looking forward to enhancing the music experiences of the students. “Teaching at Matheny,” he says, “is no different than composing music. One needs to break down specific subject matters, analyze their most basic elements and reassemble the information in a relatable way.”

Hitting the right notes

Max Berg with student India Jones and volunteer assistant David Curcio.

Music therapists at Matheny use various types of music to positively impact students’ and patients’ cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills. The music therapy program also makes it possible for students and patients to hear a variety of music – either at outside concerts or by having performers visit.

Max Berg, a resident of Gladstone, NJ, and a student at Bernards High School in Bernardsville, NJ, brought his guitar to Matheny on a recent Friday afternoon and entertained residents of the children’s wing with a variety of tunes including the Foo Fighters hit, “Big Me” and “Time of My Life”, a song from the soundtrack of the movie Dirty Dancing that was recorded later by the Black-Eyed Peas.

After the concert, Berg let the students strum his guitar and promised to be a frequent visitor.

Max Berg with student Katherine Gaudio.


Horns aplenty

Four members of Manhattan Brass with adult medical day patient Michael Martin. From left, trumpeter Wayne du Maine, trumpeter Terry Szor, trombonist Mike Seltzer and Baroque horn player R.J. Kelley.

The award-winning Manhattan Brass quintet recently visited Matheny to entertain adult students in a special assembly. Designated as a “Critic’s Pick” by Time Out New York magazine, the quintet presented an energetic performance that had the adult dining room swinging to the sounds of jazz.

The concert was coordinated by Matheny’s music therapy program, which also makes it possible for students and patients to attend outside concerts and theatre presentations whenever possible.

Sing for you

Adult patient Tony Santia, center, selects a song, assisted by rehab technician Skip Kessler and music therapy director Lynn Coyle.

“You don’t need to sing like an ‘Idol’ to participate. You don’t even need to know how to sing!”

That was the invitation delivered to Matheny staff members, students and patients on Wednesday, August 15, for a mid-week program called “Singing for Yourself” held during lunch time by the music therapy department.

Music therapists use various types of music to positively impact students’ and patients’ cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills, helping them realize their potential in society. Activities and techniques include improvisation, rhythm, songwriting, songs, chants, instrumental activities, live music and recorded music.

Employee nurse Joan Ray sings along with music therapist Greg Perkins.