CN Rewind: From passion to action – Building an empowered music program, with Adrian O. Rodriguez


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For the next few episodes, the Choir Ninja podcast will focus on Voices From Houston, lifting up the directors in south Texas as they recover from Hurricane Harvey. This first episode in the series feature a replay of an interview that originally aired back in 2015. This interview is exactly what you need to start the new school year! A truly wonderful sit-down interview with Texas native and Houston-area high school choral director, Adrian O. Rodriguez. Listen in on how you can start your year off right by building an empowered music program through creating trust and staying relevant! Listen: Highlight to Tweet: “I realized that being with those friends in choir, that community, that’s where I wanted to be.” - Adrian Rodriguez Show Notes:

  • The moment you knew you’d dedicate your life to music When Adrian was a sophomore in high school, he felt pressured to follow his parents and go into a “more academic” career like a lawyer or doctor. Self-doubt set in, and he contemplated leaving chorus. Then his father encouraged him to try out for TMEA All State Choir. He was accepted. During the festival, Adrian was approached by clinician Betsy Cook Weber, who gave him her business card and encouraged him to apply to the University of Houston. He eventually attended the University of Houston, and owes his success to the support of his father and his mentor Dr. Weber. Later in high school, he took over rehearsal for the chamber choir in his director’s absence. He found out there how much he loved making music with his peers.
  • Worst musical moment When Adrian was in college, he lost himself. Because of “impostor syndrome” he was doing musical things to impress others, because he didn’t consider himself as talented as those around him. He was pursuing performance, even though he was in Music Ed. He came to the realization that he didn’t like being in a practice room by himself and loved being with others.
  • The proudest musical moment As an upperclassman in college, Adrian got the chance to direct a chamber ensemble of his peers.
  • Your “Forte” Adrian recently gave a talk at TMEA entitled “From Passion to Action: Building Empowered Music Programs.” He speaks about his open and vulnerable relationship with his students. He addresses four things on the first day of school with EACH class: What THEY want to learn, what TEXAS expects, what the PRINCIPAL expects, and what HE believes they should learn. Adrian gets it all out on day 1 and creates an unbelievable trust relationship with his kids.
  • Most excited about right now Adrian is excited for his second year (he says his first “real” year) at his high school in Austin.
  • Advice for your younger self Commit to be relevant to your students and create an education that is meaningful to them.
Bio: Adrian O. Rodriguez currently serves as the Director of Choirs at Stephen F. Austin High School (Sugar Land, TX). In addition to conducting five choirs, he is the music director of the musical theatre program and teaches Advanced Placement Music Theory and Honors Music History. Rodriguez received his Bachelors of Music in Music Education from the University of Houston (2011) and, after finishing his thesis, will have earned his Masters of Music Education from the Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ). As an active choral clinician and consultant in Southeast Texas, Rodriguez has worked with a variety of school, church, and community choirs and has been invited to present the Texas Music Educators Association (2015) and the Texas Choral Directors Association (2014). His academic interests include: empowering pedagogical practices, community and culture in school music programs, and building choral sound. Rodriguez is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators, Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Resources/links Mentioned: Sponsored by: Sight Reading Factory (Use promo code “NINJA” at checkout for 10 free student accounts!) My Music Folders (Use promo code “NINJA” at checkout for “last column” or best pricing - usually reserved for bulk purchases only!)

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