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Spotlight on José, ETM-LA Alumnus

“[music] has helped me develop a personality that is unique to me; it has opened many doors which are waiting for me to enter and explore…”


José performs a solo at the 2018 BMI Golf Tournament


How did having music class at ETM-LA partner school Castelar Elementary help develop your love of music?

Having music classes at Castelar gave me a chance to express myself, my creativity, and helped me make good friends in and outside of music classes. Following this, going into Colburn it was really easy for me to socialize and make friends with like-minded people. Overall, being surrounded by music playing in the background regardless of instrument made me love music even more.

José (bottom row, middle) at ETM-LA’s Keep the Music Playing event, with actor Dermot Mulroney

How has music impacted your life?

Music has impacted my life in a way that no other field of study or art form has for me. It has helped me develop a personality that is unique to me; it has opened many doors which are still waiting for me to enter and explore. I’ve made great connections with wonderful people and have gone around LA to play in museums, cafes, other schools, etc. I can’t imagine how my life would’ve been without music. Music really developed my personality and who I am and how I make friends. I probably would’ve continued staying shy and quiet during classes and studying something I’m not passionate about. I’m really glad music impacted me so much because without it, I wouldn’t be here today answering these questions with a lot to say in mind.

What have been some highlights and pivotal experiences for you throughout your musical growth and career?

There’s been many highlights and experiences throughout my musical career that really stick out to me but there are a few I can’t forget. One of those experiences is speaking in front of many adults at the Fonda Theatre and representing ETM-LA. That is a highlight for me because that event has made me realize I can develop really good public speaking skills. Now, I like being vocal when it comes to ideas for projects and adjustments to pieces my colleagues have made. Another highlight I have that I’ll never forget is when we played in the halftime show for the LA Sparks vs the Minnesota Lynx. Overall, great experience, playing with other talented kids was awesome and I’ll never forget that.

What are your plans for college? What are you excited about learning and doing there?

I’m committing to attend Santa Monica College to major in economics and transfer to USC to major in Music Production. I’m excited to learn about the stock market and be smart with financial decisions. I’m also excited for meeting new people and have a circle of good influence and support. Music Production will no doubt have me extremely excited to be in a studio setting and make music and collaborate with others. Just thinking about it makes me optimistic about the future.

How has learning music encouraged your sense of expression? How has it influenced or inspired your resilience and determination?

Learning music made me interpret the pieces I’ve played in many different ways. When I see a phrase of music and take a closer look I can express that phrase in a unique way that others may not see and can also take note of it on their sheet music. By learning music, it also made me more resilient. Some pieces of music I’ve played were sometimes really challenging and took me a good while to learn, but it has never stopped me from playing the piece well in its entirety.

José (back row, middle) performing at the LA Sparks’ halftime show at the Staples Center

How do you feel performing with others in an ensemble, like at ETM-LA’s concert at the Staples Center or the Music Unites the World Festival?

I feel great when performing with others in an ensemble. We all have the same goal: to play a piece as complete and beautiful as possible and feel really good after getting off stage. It’s always a good experience being side by side with other talented people and playing really well and with their own forms of expression.

Why should all children receive in-school music education?

There’s many children out there that want to do more and explore different paths like the arts and music. Many schools can’t afford instruments because their income is low and not as fortunate to offer band classes. Having music classes can help make children see they can be happy playing music or even making it a career, myself included.