Central New York

The SAMMYS’ Awardee Deals With Parkinson’s Disease

This year’s Syracuse Area Music Awards show was held on Friday. © 2016 Zhiyan Zhong

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The SAMMYS Music Educator Of The Year Mark Copani Regards Music As A Lifelong Career

The 2016 Syracuse Area Music Award (SAMMYS) Music Educator of the Year award winner Mark Copani has great passion for music.

By Zhiyan Zhong SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) — The 2016 Syracuse Area Music Awards (SAMMYS) Music Educator of the Year award winner says Parkinson’s disease is the biggest challenge for his music career.

Mark Copani, a musician and guitar teacher, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease ten years ago. Since then, nothing worked exactly the way he expected, according to Copani.

“Parkinson’s disease affects motor skills and movement,” Copani said. “When my medication is working, I play it (the guitar) okay. When it’s not working, I sound like a student myself.”

The SAMMYS Awards Show is an annual celebration of the Syracuse music community. Since the first SAMMYS was held in 1993, the SAMMYS Award Show has become a major music event in Central New York. It gathered hundreds of local musicians and music lovers in Syracuse every year.

Copani said he told the students about his disease before they started taking his class. He said most of the students accepted the fact that he was dealing with the disease and that didn’t bother them too much.

“There is no misunderstanding once they know what’s going on, ” Copani said.

Copani has been teaching guitar in Central New York for more than 20 years. This is not his first time to gain a SAMMY award. He received the SAMMY for the Best Jazz Instrumentalist in 1994. He was also a member of several SAMMY-winning bands including Stroke, Cookbook and the DeSantis Orchestra.

Copanis said because of his Parkinson’s disease, he had to plan everything in advance. He needed to think about the time and the pills. This made him more responsible, but he said he didn’t want to be so responsible.

“I think I am just a big kid,” Copani said. “I do have my responsibilities, but I just don’t want to spend so much time thinking about pills and doctors.”

As a teacher, Copani said he was impressed by his students’ work ethic and got a lot of satisfaction from them. Even though he is dealing with the disease, he still regards music as a lifelong thing.

“I am going to keep playing until my fingers just don’t move anymore,” Copani said. “Maybe I’ll be willing to play with my feet.”