We Really Couldn’t Do It Without Them Voices From Former MUSD Graduates
By Dr. Marchéta Williams, Visual and Performing Arts Director
Eight to ten months out of the year, approximately 20 band and colorguard techs are utilized to support the middle school and high school programs in Madera Unified. The majority of the Techs are former Madera Unified graduates who return to our schools in the summer to support band camp. Once the school year begins, they help with classroom instruction and with after school rehearsals. Techs are offered positions based on skill, work ethic, need, and their high school performance when they attended school in Madera. Most of the techs are hired to work at their former high schools and middle schools. They are excited to give back to the schools they had attended.
Lorenzo Rodriguez attended Millview Elementary, Martin Luther King Middle and graduated from Madera South High School in 2016. He is a percussionist, and band tech at Martin Luther King Middle School. He has lived in Madera all of his life. To no surprise, Lorenzo’s uncle is a drummer. He, along with Leonard Perez, principal at Monroe Elementary, and Mike Tamberi of Madison Elementary were three of the adult drumline performers, and former members of a drumline group called “Valley Thunder Sr. Drumline,” that played at the Welcome Back Celebration held for MUSD staff a few years ago. When Lorenzo was asked, “What does his uncle do now, can he still play?” Lorenzo responded, “Well, he can’t hang with me.”
When asked to name the teacher who had inspired him most in high school, Lorenzo responded, “My English teacher, Mr. Chavez.” He was so understanding of every single student, instead of a teacher who had all of these students doing the same thing. He took time for each individual, to help them out, find their weaknesses and find their strengths. Depending on what we were learning or what we were trying to learn.” Although Lorenzo did not personally struggle in English class, he noted the care that his teacher took with others who really needed his help. When asked what his biggest contribution to the band tech position was, Lorenzo responded, “My ability to connect and understand the younger kids, more than people who are older. I’m still young. I know how to help them out.” (Keep in mind, Lorenzo is currently 20.)
Lorenzo was asked what type of advice he would give to his younger self now that he is older. His response was, “Teaching these kids, sometimes it gets rough. They’re kids. They’re going to goof around, they’re going to talk, do whatever. But when I was on the other side, I would do the same thing. I would see the instructors get mad but it didn’t really phase me because I was a kid. Now that I’m on this side, I grew older, more mature. If I knew how hard it gets sometimes, I would definitely tell myself to put myself in their shoes, take the responsibility and the maturity to actually handle the situation.” His favorite part of the job is to do what he loves. The most challenging part of the job is working with students who have never played the instrument and the first time they have picked up a pair of drumsticks, never been asked to read and play music, and “getting them going and getting them in the right mindset.” Lorenzo want students to learn music, enjoy music, and continue to do music. He hopes to study music in college or study mechanics.
Aaron Martinez is a 2016 graduate from Madera High School. His journey was a little different from Lorenzo’s. Born in Fresno, he bounced around to so many elementary schools prior to coming to Madera he could not remember the schools’ names. He finally settled at Parkwood Elementary in 6th grade. He later attended Thomas Jefferson prior to attending Madera High. When asked to name the teacher who most inspired him in school, he named Diane Harper, 10th grade English teacher. Aaron said, “She was one of the first teachers to call me out on not wasting potential, finding something that I love to do, and chasing after that 100%, instead of just going through the motions of school every day.” Aaron believes that his biggest contribution is to make sure that the kids have a fun experience. “At the end of the day the focus is on the program itself but while the kids are working, I want to make sure they are having a good time, they are enjoying themselves and they don’t feel like it is a burden to come to practice every day.”
Advice to younger self: “Not be so hard on the techs!” When asked his favorite part of the job? “Having students just come in, warm up, with that fresh energy and ready to go, and they’re excited to play.” Aaron finds that the slow days, when there is a lot of learning drills or learning music, are most challenging. “Where things need to be broken down into sections, and there are other people in the sections who are not really working on anything, students get talkative and it gets a little disruptive, and harder to get everyone back together.” Aaron began his college career at Fresno State after graduation in 2016. He was initially a music major but now has changed his major to accounting.
Andrew Guillen, Madera High School class of 2016, was born in Fresno but attended Monroe, Madison, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Madera. He is the son of Nora Guillen, English Learner Elementary Coordinator, and a Madera High School graduate. Several family members are musicians in his family: mother, grandparents, who played guitar, clarinet, “A whole clarinet family,” says Andrew. This proves, behind every great young musician is a great mother and a family of musicians. By the way, Andrew sings, plays clarinet, mellophone, and French horn; a well-rounded musician in his own right. The teacher who most inspired him in school was Mrs. Irene Davis, a retired MUSD music teacher. “I was about to quit music in 6th grade. She taught me that I didn’t know my full potential.” When asked his biggest contribution as a tech, he answered, “To provide to students the knowledge he has acquired, from school, drum corps, and to be able to share, “World Class Instruction.” Advice from current self to young self was to not to settle into what he thought he already knew and to be more open-minded to the music world.” Andrew’s role as a tech is to write the drills and the choreography for the Madera High School Shows. Andrew is a music education student at Fresno State and plans to someday become a music teacher. In addition, he is a first-time choir student in one of the Fresno State choirs. Andrew is also a current member of the “Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps.” The Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps is the most decorated corps in the history of DCI (Drum Corps International), the Blue Devils have finished in the top five for over 40 years and have won the DCI World Championship title more than any other performing group. Ages 17–21.
For many of our Techs, this is their first real job. Each year a stipend is allocated for each middle school and high school to fund the tech positions. We really couldn’t do all that we do without them.
Drum Corps International, Marching Music’s Major League™, has been the leader in producing events for the world’s most elite and exclusive marching ensembles for student musicians and performers. Drum Corps International was organized to unify leadership for youth-focused competitive drum corps events throughout North America.