Community Interview: Antonio Sauza, Music Teacher

KIPP LA Prep ModBand

WELA YMCA Youth Institute, is part of the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative funded by The California Endowment.Youth are exploring and investigating how the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) can empower and improve their local school communities.


The Cyberpunks are working hard to make sure that our local high school has enough funding for a music teacher and a music program. We find it extremely important that music be included in our school's curricula.

We interviewed Antonio Sauza, music teacher at KIPP: LA Prep, on this topic because his expertise and passion in music is so strong, that we were sure that he'd supply us with enough information to help us make a worthy case for our cause.

Mr. Sauza became a music teacher after getting two degrees in music and then brought music programs to some of the local schools he's worked at.

He believes strongly in music education and thinks "the government can definitely be more aggressive in mandating schools to incorporate a music program into the school curriculum."

Where did you graduate from, what degrees did you get, and what were your majors? Also what led you to pursue these majors in college?
I graduated from UCLA with a bachelor of arts in ethnomusicology (the study of world music and culture) and a minor in Chicana/o Studies. I also received a Master's Degree in music from Cal State University, Los Angeles. I chose these majors because I have a life long passion for music. I have been studying and making music since I was 13 years old and knew from a young age that music was what I would devote my life to.

What do you think of the lack of music programs in schools?
The lack of music programs in schools is a national problem. It is very disappointing that in the year 2014 there are still so many schools without music programs. I grew up within LAUSD schools and always missed having music classes in middle school and high school.

Have you noticed any growth in your students from participating in your music class? Academically or socially?
My students grow immensely by participating in the music program! There is scientific research conducted by neuro-scientists that prove how music helps to develop brain and cognitive functions. Also, I have a minimum GPA requirement to be in band so my band students have to be on top of their academics in order to participate. Socially, my students are more confident and feel comfortable speaking in front of large crowds. Being involved in band helps them work collaboratively with others and helps them to develop social and problem-solving skills that are necessary to be successful in the work force once they are adults.

Why do you think it's important for students to be active in a music program at school?
Music has been designated as a core subject in the state of California. This means that legally speaking, the state of California has determined that music should be in every school and offered to the entire student body. Beyond following the laws of our state, having a music program helps to create a positive school culture. Students feel more involved and invested in school when they are a part of groups such as a music program or school band. In other words, a student who is active in the music program at their school is more likely to feel motivated and willing to be a part of school activities.

Do you think music is something we need in schools to help enrich the lives of students in schools?
Yes of course! Quite honestly, a school that does not have a music program lacks a very important component and is creating a disservice for those students who would like to study music in college. All four year universities expect that their freshman music students have a knowledge of music theory and are able to read music fluently. I myself had to go to college for three extra years in order to catch up!

Do you think that the government should provide money for schools to incorporate a music program in their curriculum?
Yes, the government can definitely be more aggressive with mandating schools to incorporate a music program into the school curriculum. However, I also feel that the school itself should make an effort to find the necessary funding for a music teacher. If enough parents were to complain about the need for having a music program, I'm sure the school would be forced to find a way to make it happen.

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