After getting my first guitar when I was 4 years old 👶🏻, music has been an integral part of my life. I was an only child, so I spent the majority of my free time practicing when I was a kid; however growing up economically disadvantaged, we couldn't afford music lessons. Luckily for me, my family had a computer 🖥, which ended up being my main gateway into both music 🎵 and technology. I was able to look up early internet images of chord and scale charts, and before long, I was able to play (or at least make an attempt... I was in elementary school 🤣) most anything I heard. Although I didn't have any problems reading in school, I found reading staff notation incredibly difficult as a child. I suspect this, combined with the fact that I was making a learning method for myself, was the reason that the majority of my practice regime consisted of improvisation, which is relatively unique for a young musician.
Fast forward to high school. I had been playing jazz 🎸 for a few years, and I started to develop an interest for teaching. I began a primative YouTube channel (unfortunately, it no longer exists 😥, but it would be almost 16 years old today if it did!) where I made videos talking about chords, scales, modes, and other guitar centric topics. I knew that education was going to be a part of my professional life, so I started to cultivate that interest. As part of a community service requirement for graduation (we needed 250 hours before we received our diplomma) I started a guitar club at my school where I led and taught small group guitar lessons for 3 years. Not only was it popular club because there wasn't a music program at my high school, but it also lead to my first professional 💲 leads after graduation.
After graduation, there were no plans to go to college. I was teaching professionally and didn't have time for school. At critical mass I had 42 individual students 😮 (I don't know how I did it). Eventually, I crossed paths with a guidance counselor at City College of San Francisco. She encouraged me to enroll in classes for fall semester, 2014. At this point, I had no educational goals or interests, so I enrolled in any class that sounded interesting: psychology 🧠, astronomy 🌟, cooking 🍜, and, the most important class of all, musicianship 🎹.
I had been teaching guitar for 4 years at the point, two of them professionally. I had a method and rave reviews. I thought a music course was going to be a relaxing experience to pair with my more rigorous courses. I couldn't have been more incorrect ❌.... I had to work so hard in that class in order to keep up with the demands. Ear training was one thing. I had been training my ears my whole life, so intervals, chord qualities, etc. were all a matter of learning the nomenclature. It was the sightsinging, and dictation that killed me. My first semester of ear training must've involved me sitting and forcing my brain to relearn how to read for 500 hours 😪. Musicianship ended up being my gateway to wanting music to be my academic focus. I took all of the theory, musicianship, and history classes CCSF offered, but I wanted more...
I did some research about music programs at local universities, and I decided to audition at San Francisco State University for a position in their jazz gutiar program. During my first semester at state I enrolled in composition workshop as an elective, and that is where I caught the bug 🐜. Most of my early music was jazz inspired. My guitar influences growing up were Pat Metheny and Kurt Rosenwinkel, so most of my music was based around fusion with a jazz standard core. However, the more I learned about contemporary and conceptual music, the more I realized that I could get a lot more out of my education if I pursued something I knew so little about. So I did 😀... I applied for the composition project with my modest first semester portfolio, and was admitted.
At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, SFSU introduced a sound for visual media program, and I was so excited 😄. Video games filled a void during my teenage years left by my inability to play sports due to a string of middle school injuries, and I was thrilled that I was going to learn about how to have my music play a role in multimedia. I took every course that was offered: sound for games, scoring for games, scoring for film, audio middleware, and every collab available during my time at SFSU. I won awards and scholarships namely for my game compositions, but I wasn't as passionate about it as I would've thought.
After learning about how sound is treated like an after thought in most games, I wanted to be a part of something larger. I saw so much potential for sound to play a role in immersive and interactive environments, but it wasn't ever the focus. It was around this time that I began my earliest interactive non-linear compositions. I taught myself to program, and before long, I was writing music that assembled instructions for the ensemble in real time. This was a huge turning point for me regarding my artistic developmet. I was starting to compose music that felt fulfilling and genuine for the first time. Go me 😊!
And that just about brings us to the present. I graduated with my Bachelors of Music in 2019, Summa Cum Laude, and at the top of my class. I finished my Masters of Arts in 2021 during COVID 😷 (which had it's unique host of challenges both as a student and as a musician). And since graduation, I have been continuing to teach musicianship, theory, and guitar, as well as branching out to work in other musical areas. Since the beginning of 2022, I have been working with two amazing Bay Area ensembles: Earplay, where I intern doing web development and social media coordination, and San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, where I am their Artistic Production Director. I also started a YouTube channel where I have documented my analysis of all of J.S. Bach's chorale harmonizations (exciting stuff, I know 🤓). Regarding my academic career, I am actively looking for a PhD program in composition or musicology, so if you have a connection to a program, and are looking for a passionate candidate with an unrivaled work ethic and unique vision, please let me know!