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Spotlight on Damien, Music Teacher


Tell us about yourself – your background, where your musical inspiration comes from, and how you got into teaching?

Music has been a part of my life since 4th grade. I quit three weeks into starting because my instrument was broken from the beginning and I could never get a sound out of it. The band director didn’t notice or help me, and that did not sit well with me. Two years later, my best friend forged my middle school application, signing me up for the band while I was on vacation for the summer. I begrudgingly stayed, and the rest is history. I earned a degree from USC in music education. I’ve been married to my wife Audrey for 14 years. We met in our college marching band. I have three kids: Nathan (7), Troy (5), and Shayla (2).

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?

When I was in high school, our music program went on an annual tour out of state. We visited San Antonio, Washington D.C., Hawaii, etc. These musical experiences and the memories that we were able to create had a life-changing effect on how I viewed the world. It wasn’t necessarily what she taught, but what she did with what we had been taught. Our efforts were showcased and validated, and that created a culture of buy-in and strong work ethic.

What do you love about teaching?

There’s nothing better than helping kids earn the opportunity to shine. Tailor-fitting the music to our groups’ strengths while challenging their weaknesses is a close second when it comes to performance.

What is the best part about working with ETM-LA?

The structure of it all stands out to me. I love the message it sends to the community, the heart of the staff that’s in place to carry out the mission, and the networking that allows others to share their musical gifts, philanthropy, and time. The clear effort to be a moving target in regards to our personal growth as an organization. There’s an integrity of why we do what we do around here and everybody knows who we’re doing it for: the kids and our desire to have music positively impact their lives.

Why do you think it’s important to keep music programs in schools?

I remember reading about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. It validated so much of how we think, create, and are impacted by a musical aspect. Quality music education can raise skill and awareness in all other areas of learning. Every child deserves the opportunity to create what words cannot always capture.