Amherst Middle School Music Staff
Jeffrey J. Palmer is the 7th and 8th Grade Band Director and Music Department Chairperson at Amherst Middle School. He was a percussion major at SUNY Buffalo where he received a Bachelors Degree in Music Education. He also holds a Masters Degree from SUNY College at Fredonia in Music Education. Before coming to Amherst in 1999, Mr. Palmer taught music in The Niagara Wheatfield and Dunkirk School Districts, and served as the Director of Bands at Susquehanna Valley High School. He teaches summer lessons at Amherst Middle School. Mr. Palmer thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to work with the extraordinary students, parents, and community members in the Amherst School District. Outside of school, he actively participates in music ministries at his church. Road biking is a favorite activity. Mr. Palmer also enjoys cooking, woodworking, golfing, gardening and auto mechanics as well as family activities with Julie, Connor, Sydney, Alexa and Eli.
Paul D. Biddle received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and his Master of Music degree in Music Performance from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2002 and 2003. He earned his Performer’s Certificate in tuba performance in 2003. He studied tuba under C. Rudolph Emilson and Raymond Stewart. Mr. Biddle earned a graduate assistantship and studied under Dr. Paula Holcomb for 2 years. Mr. Biddle is currently a Band Director at Amherst Middle School (Western New York), where he directs the 6th Grade Band, Jazz Lab, Chamber Ensembles, teaches instrumental lessons, teaches General Music to 6th graders and accompanies the Amherst Choirs. His 6th Grade Band has played in 13 NYSSMA Festivals receiving Gold and Gold with Distinction ratings each year. The 6th Grade band has performed at Kleinhans Music Hall as part of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Education Series for three straight years. His Jazz Labs have been performing live shows at the Hard Rock Café in Niagara Falls for the past five years. The group started off with 16 kids and has grown to over 60 players including all possible band instruments.
In the last 13 years, Mr. Biddle has taught in the summer music programs at Amherst, Cleveland Hill, Clarence, Williamsville, Orchard Park and Frontier School Districts. Mr. Biddle is a Music Adjudicator and was a Band Chairman/ Festival Host for the Erie County Music Educators Association. In March 2010, he conducted the ECMEA All County Junior High North Band. In November 2011 he conducted the Zone 2 Junior High Area All State Band. In 2012 he conducted the Junior High Area-Allstate in Orange County, New York. His professional affiliations include ECMEA, NYSSMA and Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity. Mr. Biddle has been teaching private tuba and piano lessons from his home since 2003. Recently, he has been composing music, with a brass quintet (Fantasy Espagnol) published by Timber Ridge Music Publishing Company and his first musical (It’s Middle School) performed at Amherst Middle School in 2009. Mr. Biddle has been the Band Director at Canisius College since 2006. His bands have played at King Concert Hall in Fredonia, NY and at Kleinhans Music Hall in conjunction with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. The Canisius College band has been performing a joint concert with the Erie County Wind Ensemble under the direction of Mr. John Maguda. In addition to music and teaching, Mr. Biddle also coaches Varsity Tennis and Modified Swimming in the Amherst Central School District. Mr. Biddle resides in Clarence with his wife, son and three cocker spaniels.
Erin Ayer is the Choral Director for all students in sixth through eighth grade at Amherst Middle School. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance and Music Education from Houghton College in 2003, followed by her Master’s Degree in Education with a music concentration from the University at Buffalo in 2007. She began her teaching career in Amherst in the spring of 2004 and continues to enjoy being part of this community today.At Amherst Middle School, Erin conducts the Sixth Grade Chorus, Seventh and Eighth Grade Chorus, and Eighth Grade Choir, involving nearly 300 students each year in the choral program. Additionally, she coordinates and directs three extracurricular ensembles: Pop Chorus, Barbershop, and Beautyshoppe. She also serves as the director of the annual musical production each winter. Erin is a member of the Executive Board for the Erie County Music Educators Association (ECMEA) and also served as their Choral Committee Chairperson for three years. She is also a member of the Curriculum Committee for the New York State School of Music Association (NYSSMA). Her experiences with these professional groups as well as in the choral classroom have provided her the opportunity to present workshops in local and state conferences on musical curriculum, instruction, and educational standards throughout New York State and beyond. She received the PTSA Teacher of the Year Award in 2012 from the Amherst PTSA. In addition to her conducting responsibilities at school, Erin conducted the Elementary All-County Chorus for Chautauqua County in June of 2013 and the Blue Elementary All-County Chorus for Erie County in March of 2017. As a musician, Erin sings with the Vocalis Chamber Choir, recently performing with the group at the Cambridge Summer Music Festival in Cambridge, England. She continues to study voice with Dr. Margaret Kuhl and is an active accompanist in the Buffalo area.
Patrick O’Donnell received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2004 and his Masters of Arts in Community Music from the University of Limerick, Ireland in 2005. Before coming to Amherst in 2010, Mr. O’Donnell taught in the Sweet Home Central School District as the elementary orchestra director for four years. He is enjoying his seventh year as Director of Orchestras at Amherst Middle School where he directs the 6th Grade Orchestra, 7-8th Grade Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and The Amherst Rock Concert Orchestra (A.R.C.O.). Under his direction the 6th Grade Orchestra and the 7-8Th Grade Orchestra have received Gold and Gold with Distinction ratings at NYSSMA Major Organization Festivals. A.R.C.O. has performed as part of the Rock Star Program at the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls for the past six years.
Mr. O’Donnell performs with local community orchestras and is the cellist for the Greycliffe String Quartet which performs events regionally. He also performs occasionally on the fiddle for Irish and Bluegrass groups. Mr. O’Donnell’s studio work includes cello and fiddle parts for a variety of musical groups and recently a session for a Canadian documentary by Historica Canada about the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He has guest conducted for the Niagara All County Elementary Orchestra. Mr. O’Donnell is enthusiastic about his current role outside of the classroom as the Modified Cross-Country Coach and Modified Track and Field Coach for Amherst Middle School and his role as Stage Crew Director for the Middle School Musical Productions. He enjoys spending his spare time with his wife Emily and his two sons Connor and Jack.