Bills piled up. Then Calvaresi, who took two years of music education classes at Towson University before switching to a performance major because he couldn't justify a profession that was less lucrative than being in a band, began substitute teaching.

It was then that he fell back in love with education. After subbing for a while, he needed something more permanent.

"I thought to myself, 'I don't want to be a substitute teacher forever, just waiting for the next tour. I need a career,' " Calvaresi said.

One night, he checked the county's website and saw an opening for a string teacher at Ridgely Middle. He stopped by the next day to see Sue Wilson, band director at Ridgely, and eventually secured a long-term substitute position. He built a rapport with the students, but was unable to take the full-time position without his teaching certificate.


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So on top of subbing for all of last year at Cockeysville Middle School, Calvaresi went back to school to earn his certificate.

Once he finished, Wilson said, Cockeysville wanted to hire him to teach Spanish.

"He wanted to hold out for music," she said, "and I'm glad he did."

For her part, Wilson is thrilled to be teaching alongside Calvaresi.

"I'm so excited I can't tell you," she said. "The parents and the kids are going to be ecstatic. He left such an impression on them."

Both Wilson and Paxton think their former student is destined for success as a music teacher.

"Good Lord, he's got the right formula," Paxton said. "He really relates to kids well. He has the right methods. With his character and personality, the kids just love working with him. They really listen."

"He's an inspiration to the kids," Wilson said. "He's full of energy, and he does well with the middle-school kids. It takes a special teacher to be able to do that. He can get them inspired."

As a substitute, Calvaresi used little pieces of his rock star past to keep kids engaged and interested.

But he doesn't expect his new students to view him as anything other than Mr. Calvaresi, string teacher.

"It's good that I did substitute teaching and got the hang of that," Calvaresi said. "Plus, I'm there at the beginning of the year. From day one, that classroom is mine, so I can establish expectations and have a good social contract with the kids."

Calvaresi's rock band experience won't be a problem in the classroom, Wilson said.

"They won't view him (as a rock star) because he plays a mean cello," she said. "We have so many parents that are Baltimore Symphony musicians that you need someone who can play. That's what's important: him being viewed as a player.

"The kids are so impressed by his ability that the rock star stuff doesn't come up much. They want to emulate the way he plays."