Spotlight on Angelica, Music Teacher
Tell us about yourself – your background, where your musical inspiration comes from, and how you got into teaching?
I’m originally from the Bay Area and grew up with music all around me. My dad was an amateur DJ, and my aunt was a singer/actress. My mom played me a Mozart compilation CD every night while I fell asleep. I began singing at age 3 (Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It” was apparently my favorite) and had the privilege of having music throughout all of my schooling. I picked up the violin in 4th grade after seeing a black woman playing one during a Yanni concert my mom was watching on TV, which is how I learned how to read music and started the process of becoming a musician. In middle school, my orchestra/band director asked me to sing with the jazz band, which is where my love for Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington (some of my biggest musical influences) came from, and I joined choir, where my musicianship skills were nurtured though Kodaly methodology. I continued with violin until my freshman year of high school, then dropped it to make more room for my real love — singing. I continued with choir (Women’s Barbershop, Show Choir, and Concert Choir) and began doing musical theatre outside of school. It was in the theatre that I first began teaching. My director hired me to be the musical director for the little kids’ (ages 3-12) shows and the rest is history. I’ve been teaching music to kids for about 8 years now.
Have you ever had a music educator in your life that impacted you through their teaching? If so, could you tell us a little bit about them, and how they shaped your love for music?
The teacher who has impacted my life the most is Christian Emigh. He was my choir teacher from 8th-12th grade. He taught me Kodaly, believed in me when no one else did, and showed me that I could make a living doing what I loved. Mr. Emigh has a very, very special place in my heart and is unlike any other teacher I’ve had. We still keep in touch to this day. I am the teacher I am because of him. I learned from the best.
What do you love about teaching?
I love sharing my knowledge and opening children’s minds and creativity with music. I also love instilling a healthy work ethic in kids through music and allowing every child to express themselves and explore the unknown.
What is the best part about working with ETM-LA?
The best part about working with ETM-LA is the opportunity to share what I have learned, but also to continue learning. With regularly scheduled PDs (professional development) and the opportunity to get certified in Orff or Kodaly, ETM-LA makes sure that not only are their students learning, but that their teachers are too.
Why do you think it’s important to keep music programs in schools?
It’s important to keep music in schools because music is an integral part of society that allows catharsis, discovery, and proclamation. Music can be found in every culture around the world — it’s cheesy, but music really is universal. Music also allows students to claim responsibility for themselves, to be proud of a final product such as a concert, and creates community. Plus, music is fun! I was lucky enough to have music provided throughout all my lower-level education and it changed my life for the better; I think every child deserves the same opportunity that I was given.