Alum of the Month

November 2006

November 2006
Paul Cartier '81

Q & A:

  • What is your edge?
    My strength is organization and pride in whatever work or project that I do. I am also capable of balancing my time among numerous responsibilities.
  • What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
    As a Music Education major I had to attend more classes than the average Hofstra student. Concentration was on two subjects, music and education, as opposed to one. Many of the music classes were either half or one credit. Having this many classes helped with organization and balance of time.
  • What is your field of specialty and how did you come to work in the industry?
    I have several fields of specialty.

    I came to love playing music at approximately 9 years old. I was blessed with ability that, up until classical study, I felt I didn't have to work hard at playing and actually enjoyed practicing. This enjoyment led to me playing the organ in church, which in turn, helped me put myself through college. My love for sports then naturally led me to merge the two interests together and become a sports organist.

    Air Traffic Control Specialist - Due to the lack of music teaching jobs available during the '80s, I worked in several different jobs. A neighbor who worked for the FAA as a controller advised that there were jobs available. I took the test, was hired and it has come to be a career that I have thoroughly enjoyed. This job demands confidence and organizational skills as you direct aircraft from conflicts as well as lining up flights in order for arrivals. Management - As a fire commissioner, I again use my organizational skills to basically run a business. Budgeting and spending of taxpayer funds and helping to organize all the mandates for training, physicals, etc.
  • What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
    As I mentioned earlier, there were no music teaching jobs in this area when I graduated. Oddly enough, I took an entry-level position in the mailroom at Cablevision at a salary of $10,000/yr. I took this job with the full intent of not staying in that position for long. I planned to show I was a hard worker and move into higher positions. Working in the mailroom allowed me to meet everyone, top to bottom in the company. Cablevision was known for hiring from within, and in just 6 months I had moved into a better position. In just three years, I had moved up to a supervisor position in one of the studios.

    I would say the most valuable thing I learned there is to never look down on someone for doing a job you feel may be "lesser" than yours. Here I was with a college degree working the mailroom. I'm sure there were people there who looked at me as "just" the mailroom guy.
  • What was your single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
    Which career? I have three of them running simultaneously!
    Air Traffic Control - Every day is rewarding. I know that everyday I help hundreds, if not thousands, of people, move safely across the country.

    Music - Playing the organ at Yankee Stadium with a daily audience of 52,000 people.

    Volunteer FD - Being able to provide assistance to my neighbors whenever they need it.
  • Whom in your field do you most admire?
    The people who love their art so much that they are willing to "just get by" in order to do what they really enjoy doing (such as musicians and actors).
  • What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
    My fondest memory is hanging out with all the cool students that were in the music program and being taught by some of the most talented people I've ever met.
  • In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
  • What advice would you give current students?
    Always be willing to learn. Never get to the point that you know it all. Be responsible! Be proud of your work. Get to work on time. Dress presentably. Take initiative. Don't wait to be told to do something. Learn everything about your job. Help others when they need it. Performing your job well and enjoying your work will make the difference between having to go to work and wanting to go to work.
  • How do you balance work and life?
    Was this question selected just for me? With all the different directions I have in my life, I've been forced to be organized! I often find myself running from one job to the next with little time in between. I am very family oriented and make sure I make time for my family. In addition to taking the family on vacation twice a year, I make sure to include myself in everyday life, such as, shuttling the kids to their different activities. I make time to sit and talk about how their day went … what the current crises are, etc. I make sure to set aside time during the different holidays to go to a show and do things together. I remember being told that the kids grow up fast. I can now attest to that.
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    I feel I have been in high gear since I was 18 years old. My air traffic job allows me to retire at age 50, or 2 years from now. I plan to travel a lot while still being involved with my music and community service. Eddie Layton played the organ at Yankee Stadium for 37 years … Maybe I can match that!
  • As the organist, what is a typical game night at Yankee Stadium like?
    On a typical game night, I receive 15-20 minutes of time to play any songs I choose, which occurs anytime between 6:10 p.m. and 6:40 p.m.

    During this time period, my name is up on the giant scoreboard and occasionally, live video of me playing is shown on the video board. During the game, I finish off every half inning with an organ flourish. When the Yankees are at bat, the director will call out for me to play something specific or of my own choice. In the middle of the sixth inning, I play two verses of Happy Birthday as part of the birthday promotion, and in the middle of the seventh inning I play "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for the seventh inning stretch. Fifty-five thousand people stand and sing along with me as they stretch their legs. My booth is located right next to the legendary PA Announcer Bob Sheppard.
Paul Cartier '81

Paul Cartier '81 has been the organist for the New York Yankees since 2004. He has played the organ for the New York Islanders hockey team on and off since 1978, and has been playing steady for the past six years. At the age of 19, Paul began his career as the organist for the New York Arrows indoor soccer team.

Paul currently works full-time as an air traffic controller for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a position he has held for 19 years. In his spare time, he serves as a volunteer fire fighter/EMT in his hometown of South Hempstead, and as chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners for the South Hempstead Fire District. Paul has been a member of the fire department for 28 years and a commissioner for eight years.

A transfer student from the University of Dayton, Paul earned a Bachelor of Science in music education from Hofstra in 1981. While a student at Hofstra, Paul played the organ at St. Martha's Roman Catholic Church in Uniondale to assist with tuition, and continued his classical organ lessons with Robert Kennedy at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, during his sophomore year. Paul's sports affiliation was inspired by Hofstra Music Professor Dr. Fred Mendelson. Dr. Mendelson shared his musical talent with his students, including Paul, while playing the organ for the Islanders games at the Nassau Coliseum. After hearing Paul play the piano before class, Dr. Mendelson encouraged him to visit him at an Islanders game, where he allowed him to play the organ during intermission. Paul was later hired as the organist for the New York Arrows soccer team, and when Dr. Mendelson retired from Islanders hockey in 1980, Paul succeeded him as the Islanders' part-time organist.

Following the NY Yankees' 2003 season, Paul was contacted by Michael Bonner, NY Yankees director of scoreboard operations, after longtime organist of 37 years Eddie Layton announced his retirement, to see if he would be interested in playing the organ at the NY Yankees games. Paul, unable to commit on a full-time basis because of his responsibilities with the FAA, accepted Mr. Bonner's offer a few months later to play the evening games Monday through Friday, and in 2004, began his NY Yankees career.

In addition to his sports organist career, Paul serves as associate organist for Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church in Carle Place, NY. He plays every week at Mass and was recently recognized with an award for 35 years of service with the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Paul has been married to his wife, Jan, for 17 years. They have two children, son Kevin, 19 years old, and a daughter Katie, 16. Their family time is spent boating, traveling to various timeshares and spending time at their trailer in Eagle Lake, PA, in the Poconos.