Spotlight on Claudio, Music Teacher
Tell us about yourself – your background, where your musical inspiration comes from, and how you got into teaching?
I grew up in downtown Los Angeles and began playing in band in the fourth grade. The only reason I joined band was because my best friend agreed to sign up. We both remained in band through middle school, high school, and college. During my high school years I started to volunteer my time at my middle school, where I got my first taste of teaching and mentoring younger students in music. It was during this time that I knew that I would want to be a music teacher. During the last year of my undergraduate studies at CSUN, my middle school music teacher hired me to be a conductor at The Saturday Conservatory of Music. This is where my love for teaching and conducting blossomed, and I have worked with many students ever since.
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?
I have been lucky to have had some of the most amazing music teachers. Miss Quan, my middle school teacher, was instrumental in developing my musicianship and took a group of us to study music at The Colburn School. The music community she was able to build at Virgil Middle School was truly amazing. Mr. Feliz and Brian Higa, my band directors at Belmont High School, taught us that hard work, discipline, and dedication paid off, and took our bands to many festivals and competitions. Tony White inspired me with his hard work and dedication throughout all of LAUSD and even volunteered his free time to give me lessons. Gary Pratt, Mary Schliff, and Dr. Larry Stoffel were my college educators and mentors that I looked up to for their dedication to music education in California.
What do you love about teaching?
I really love making a difference in a student’s life by motivating them and having them develop love and passion for music making, hoping that someday they will do the same and help support music education in schools. Watching students grow from the first day they touch an instrument to the final concert is truly amazing. I also love seeing how long-lasting friendships are made in music class due to their commitment to the ensemble.
What is the best part about working with ETM-LA?
I truly believe that music is an essential part of human experience and connection, and all students should have access to music education as a core subject during the school day. It is because of ETM-LA’s mission that many schools are able to receive music during the school day. I also love the student population that we are able to help — many of these students remind me of myself growing up. I was fortunate to have music provided through the district growing up, but given today’s financial hardships many of these students would not have the opportunity to touch an instrument if wasn’t for ETM-LA. I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful program.
Why do you think it’s important to keep music programs in schools?
I know firsthand the power of music education and how it can transform students, schools, families, and communities. Music took me off the streets, gave me a purpose, helped me create lifelong friendships, helped me with leadership and social skills, and taught me commitment, discipline, and dedication. Music taught me how to be successful in life. Being in music is usually not something you can do on your own like many other core subjects. Keeping music programs in schools gives students a place to be creative, a place to take risks, a place to learn team work, a place to better their self confidence, a place to be emotional, a place to learn discipline, a place to be accountable, a place to be human.