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Sean Quinn – The Retirement Of A Legend

Teaching eight classes a day is hard work, but for Sean Quinn it was a labor of love.  “Not one morning did I ever get out of bed, put my feet on the floor and not want to go to work,” he says.

Quinn, who for the past 28 years taught music in Manhasset schools, led the students in the elementary school orchestra and fourth-grade string ensembles, and created a variety of other musical groups for the school district, at both Munsey Elementary and Shelter Rock Road. 

From 1973 thru 1985, Quinn held a series of teaching positions at private schools in Queens and Nassau that provided him with “terrific qualifications” when it came to applying for a position with the Manhasset School District.  “He was the best candidate by far,” says colleague Eileen Murphy, “combining excellent conservatory training with 12 years of teaching experience and the perfect personality for relating to elementary students.”

   Murphy, who taught the middle and high school classes to which Quinn’s pupils “graduated,” noted he was a world class fiddler, elected to the Irish Music Hall of Fame in 2009.  Quinn has won an array of championships at the highest level of competitions in both the United States and Ireland, where his parents were born.  

 and The Quinns emigrated to settle in Flushing, Queens.  Louis Quinn was a musical talent while his wife, Mary, was in charge of raising their seven children (two girls and five boys).  Sean was second in line—following older sister Mary.  He graduated from St. Francis Prep and received classical training at Mannes College of Music in Manhattan. Graduate work leading to a master’s degree was accomplished at Queens College and Long Island University.   

 Quinn taught a full eight-period schedule of classes, splitting time between Munsey Park and Shelter Rock Elementary Schools.  He took over a modest 25 student orchestra in 1985 (half from each of the two elementary schools) and built it into a widely admired and often honored institution with 230 kids now playing strings for the enjoyment of the entire Manhasset community.  For the past 18 years, he has been in charge of Great Neck’s district-wide summer music program.

    Quinn also provides private lessons which allow talented young musicians to benefit from his unique teaching skills on a more personalized basis. Quinn has composed over 300 original fiddle tunes and his music is played on more than 50 CD’s.   

   Quinn the performer is also in great demand at local weddings, bar mitzvahs and similar celebrations, where he is often joined by one or more of his three children.  Chris, a former Marine now an undercover detective with the New York City Police Department (NYPD); Tara, also a teacher; and Heather are all excellent violinists.

   Somehow, the world’s busiest music teacher finds time to squeeze in as many rounds of golf as he can with great pals and fellow teachers Mark Fay and Chuck Collyer.  Having essentially introduced Sean to the sport, long-time MHS golf (as well as football and basketball) coach Collyer has a special perspective regarding his friend on the links:“He’s actually a pretty fair performer when it comes to the game but – as with so many people who are high achievers – he is easily frustrated by his inability to master golf just like he has mastered all elements of the musical world.”   

 Joe Capodecasa, Shelter Rock’s band teacher selected Quinn to stand up for him at his wedding five years ago.

“From serving as my mentor when I first came to Manhasset 15 years ago, Sean and I hit it off perfectly – on just about every level” he says.   “I don’t think I’ve ever met another individual that is able to combine as many skills as does Sean – who is a fabulous teacher, a world class performer, a tremendously loyal friend and just such an all-around great guy.”