I started to learn music when I was 11 years old. I actually begged my mom to go to piano lessons and she gave in, so she sent me to this teacher in Sosua. I didn’t last too much with him, just a few classes and then I had a few other teachers for private lessons, like two or three. Then in 2005 I went to Santiago to a place called Instituta de Cultura y Arte which is the Institute of Culture and Art. I spent a whole year there and I really learned a lot. I couldn’t finish because of some family matters, but it was actually great, and because of that opportunity, I got invited to a few groups and then I started to teach a few private lessons on my own.
What do you think makes a good teacher?
A good music teacher needs two things, which is what basically every teacher needs: Patience. You really need to know that you’re dealing with people and you need to give them time to absorb what they need. And the other thing that you really need is [to remember] that, just like anything else in life, you just can’t do it if you’re not feeling it, if you’re not enjoying it. So teaching is all about letting people do their thing, at their own pace, and by doing that you just need to go along and really like the whole process.
You’re new to Fedujazz- you’ve been teaching with the organization for ten days. Can you think of a moment you’ve had so far with the students that was memorable to you?
The last class. We really enjoyed the class because they were making jokes with me for the first time. And it was actually nice, you know, I’ve never taught kids this little, but it’s been really good. And the last class I had this moment where I was like, man, I’m not teaching adults, so I need to know how to focus their attention. And [engaging them in that way] worked because I had to listen to them…You need to know how to create the balance, I mean, you need to listen to me, but I need to listen to you.
What message would you share with our supporters and donors?
To the donors and sponsors I’d say, we’re trying to do our best. There’s a lot to do. And as I’ve been talking to the other teachers, we all share this passion for what we’re doing and we really have big expectations of what we’re planning to do with [the students], so please trust that our passion will just take us like down the road, with the goal of not just making musicians but people who love music. Create this little spark in them so that we can see future musicians.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.