The Massapequa school district's veteran band director is the new president of the New York State School Music Association, which works to advance music education in 5,000 schools statewide.

David Gaines, who has led award-winning ensembles in his 28 years with the district, said, "I am optimistic about the future of music education," though he noted it has suffered in some school districts because of economic hardships in recent years.

He is the latest in a string of Long Island music educators to head the state association, the most recent being Marc Greene, the Baldwin Senior High School choral director who now holds the position of past president.

"He is a really passionate music educator," state NYSSMA spokesman John Gallagher said.

Gaines, 51, began his two-year term on Jan. 1. In the post, he is responsible for eight All-State ensembles and the annual winter concert in Rochester.

NYSSMA Executive Director Steven Schopp said that the state-imposed property tax cap's effects on district budgets and heightened attention to testing can mean difficult times for education apart from such core subjects as English, math and science.

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"When there's pressure on school in general, we in the arts tend to feel that," he said, adding that the organization's new president "understands that very well."

Gaines, who holds a doctoral degree from Columbia University, became band director for the Massapequa school district in 1986. During 21 years as an instructor, his ensembles consistently earned Gold and Gold with Distinction awards at NYSSMA festivals.

He became the district's curriculum associate for music in 2008, and in that role oversees music education for Massapequa's 7,600 students.

The New York State School Music Association, based in Westbury, is the largest state affiliate of NAfME, the National Association for Music Education.

Since 1981, nearly half of past NYSSMA presidents have been Long Island residents, Gallagher said.