Spotlight on Franklin, ETM-LA Instructional Supervisor
“I emphasize to teachers: ‘let the school teach you about their community and culture.'”
How has your family’s heritage and culture influenced you artistically, ie. your love of playing and teaching music?
My family’s Hispanic heritage, in particular my Ecuadorian culture, has definitely influenced me artistically and also in my own teaching.
In my own teaching, it has made me aware that not all cultures and heritages are represented in our method books or weekly lessons; so when I was in the classroom teaching, I made it a point to ask all of my students about their culture and heritage, and to speak about it to the class for a couple minutes. I would then pick one or two pieces from those specific cultures to incorporate into our weekly learning, and eventually perform them at our concerts, music festivals, and competitions. I would continue to add more pieces the following months — and not just focused on one specific month, but instead throughout the school year. While learning each of the pieces or exercises that represented other cultures and heritages, we not only learned about reading and playing the music, but it also enriched the students by learning about the history, culture, heritage, and much more.
Along the same lines, when I was planning my repertoire for my Master’s conducting degree in 2012, I asked my professor if it was okay to choose two pieces (out of seven) that represented my Ecuadorian Heritage, and he agreed! Dr. Stoffel was so impressed with the repertoire that it also motivated him to include it in the ensemble’s repertoire for the upcoming concert. I felt quite proud that not only my Ecuadorian heritage was being represented in my recital and the concert, but that it also shined a spotlight of my heritage for others to enjoy — and most of all, made my family proud!
How have you found that your heritage enables you to form a connection with ETM-LA’s school communities? How does it help while mentoring teachers?
As a Hispanic and Latino, I identify and I see myself in the communities that we serve. It reminds me of my youth and allows me to see the students for who they are. Being in Los Angeles, the majority of the communities we serve are predominantly of Hispanic heritage, and I love it! Despite this, every school that we serve has a difference in culture and community. This is something that being a minority, a Hispanic, has made me aware of, and at the same time has permitted me to prepare to mentor teachers prior to them stepping into their schools. One of the biggest pieces of advice I give all of the teachers is for them to bring music education to the school so that they may teach the students, but I emphasize to them to let the school teach you [the teacher] about their community and culture. Because when you marry the two, the teacher’s lessons and connection with the school’s community will be a beautiful composition piece.
Are there any songs from Hispanic/Latinx culture that you recommend as part of the curriculum for your teachers, and/or that you have enjoyed teaching to students?
Yes! Since we are in Los Angeles, I strongly believe that in addition to teaching students standard European music education, why not also teach Mariachi! Today, Mariachi is not only of Mexican heritage, but also a big part of the Angeleno culture as well. This is why I recommend that a Mariachi music curriculum should also be incorporated in standard music education in the Los Angeles area. There are some schools and smaller school districts beginning to take the initiative in introducing Mariachi music education to their schools, by starting a Mariachi ensemble as an extracurricular activity. I want to go beyond that, and say that Mariachi music education should be part of the core in Angeleno music education and with that, also having ourselves as music educators do the leg work and get training to be able to have Mariachi be part of the standard music education curriculum in Los Angeles, because it is part of the Angeleno culture and heritage.
Everything has a beginning; let’s be the change and let’s teach and bring part of Angeleno heritage into the schools by beginning to integrate Mariachi music education into the Los Angeles area.