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Spotlight on Tristan Torres, Student

“Music class makes me feel good and calms me down…Sometimes when I’m having a hard day at school, music takes my stress away.”

Music Supports Social Emotional Learning for Tristan

Meet 5th Grader Tristan who loves playing the saxophone in the school band which he joined last year. Tristan wishes that “music class was more than once a week” and enjoys studying under his band director, ETM-LA Music Teacher Mentor Lucy Cahuantzi. His father Oscar shares, “Music has had a positive impact on Tristan’s life…[When he was] four years old, Tristan’s occupational and speech therapy through music paved the way for his love of music. [Now], his passion for playing the saxophone during music classes is evident, and we support him practicing at home.”

Children of all ages benefit from the emotional support that music education provides; but especially during a child’s formative years. Tristan says, “Music class makes me feel good and calms me down…Sometimes when I’m having a hard day at school, music takes my stress away.” Additionally, learning social skills and collaboration is fundamental in an ensemble setting. In his From the Heart Award-Winning Essay (ETM-LA 14th Annual Music Unites the World Festival), Tristan conveys that “being in a music ensemble plays a positive role in my life…

Music class changed my life because I’ve never played on a team. My class is a team. We warm up with our instruments and practice our piece. We get to play in front of our family and teachers at school…I was ecstatic to show the community how hard we worked.”

Music builds confidence, leadership skills, self-awareness, social-emotional wellness, empathy, cognitive development, and so much more. ETM-LA Partner organization SEL4CA’s Executive Director Dr. Amy Cranston believes, “social emotional learning is not one more thing on your plate, it is the plate; it’s foundational to all learning.” 

Oscar adds, “the [ETM-LA] music program is important because it provides valuable exposure to music at a young age.”

Thank you for joining our mission to ensure students like Tristan have access to high-quality music education and teachers like Mrs. Cahuantzi. Every child has the right to access high-quality music education in order to experience the life-changing benefits of music. Tristan says that “music class should be in all schools. It is not fair for the students who don’t have the same opportunity as us.” ETM-LA provides music education to almost 20,000 students in under-resourced schools across LA County, but we can’t stop there. Join our mission and Keep the Music Playing across Los Angeles and beyond.


Tristan’s Award-Winning Essay:

I believe being in a music ensemble played a positive role in my life. Last year, was my first year in band playing the saxophone. I played with my friends and schoolmates. This was my first time being in an ensemble because I’ve always played the piano by myself. Playing in front of my family, school, and community made me feel excited.

At first, playing the saxophone was different and new. It was heavy and had a lot of notes. My family was encouraging me to practice and try to do my best. During last years holidays, I played Christmas songs in front of my family. I was thrilled to finally perform with the band in the spring concert in front of my family. They were happy to hear me perform and how my hard work paid off.

It was so much fun playing with my friends during my first year in band. I got to meet new friends as well. During my time, it was a learning experience playing with them. We all had to play in sync together. My first concert at school was amazing. We were happy to finally perform in front of our family and friends. The school was so proud of us for our hard work. We were invited to the Kindness 5k Run at Pierce College. It made me feel special to perform in front of many families from different schools.

I really enjoyed playing in front of the whole community. The PTA, the teachers and staff, and the families supported us throughout last year. We performed at the spring and summer concert and the performance at Pierce College. I was ecstatic to show to the community how hard we worked. Playing for the community allowed me to showcase my talent with the saxophone.

Now that I’ve completed my first year in band, I can continue to do better and play more concerts for my family, school, and community. Next year, I’ll be going to middle school. They have an excellent music program. Hopefully, I can join their band.