Learn languages through music…

One of the most effective ways to learn a different language is with the help of music.

My mom learned Spanish by listening to artists like Julio Iglesias and Gloria Estefan. She would write down the words and translate it. I can still see her in front of me with her dictionary and notebook. And when she found out what Julio was singing about she would say, he’s so sweet.....lol

Listening to the music paid off cause my mom was fluent in Spanish. Her husband and kids were at that time not so happy with “Amor, Amor” playing in the car and in the house. But guess what? Somehow I picked it up and can sing along with it. I was surprised how many Julio songs I actually know when I visited his concert with my mom a couple of years ago. Besides it did help me with my Spanish.

Stevie Wonder sings “Music is a world within itself with a language we all understand”.

He is right. Music is a universal language. Despite the diversity of music influenced by countless cultures somehow the various musical structures transcend cultural differences. No matter what culture, people (mostly musicians) can read the same piece of music. Some say music is a byproduct of our language evolution. Both are forms of social bonding and besides that music helps your grammar and vocabulary. There are even teaching methods where they advise you to listen to music in the language you want to learn. You can actually learn a language faster this way, cause it helps us to remember words in a fun and creative way.

Most of the times we may not understand the lyrics of foreign songs, but we all share the same emotions when we hear similar chords and melodies. To understand music, we need to understand emotions as well. The same components that make up music which are: pitch, rhythm, and tempo, are also present in everyday speech no matter what language you're speaking. With these patterns present in spoken language, we can interpret emotions from music using the same signals.

So how does it work? This last weekend BTS was in Holland for a concert. The show sold out in less than 30 minutes. They are one of the reasons that K-Pop is up and rising. I’ve been listening to their album and the tunes are good, but what is the strength of this group? They sing in Korean and I have no clue what they’re singing about. Somehow the language doesn’t seem to be a problem at all cause they draw big and diverse crowds with their performances, sell out stadiums and have a fanbase who call themselves A.R.M.Y. and the beauty of it is that the fans can actually sing along with their songs in Korean. I admire the fact that somehow they can touch millions of people with their songs in a language that the biggest part of the western world doesn’t understand.

What makes this group successful? Is it their looks, their style, what they represent or is it the music, the lyrics? Maybe it’s the complete package? Somehow they found a way to leave a big impression in the world of music. 

I’m trying to look at it from a music point of view. What makes them unique if you take away the visual image and you just listen to the tunes?

Let me know, cause I really wanna know your thoughts.


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When it’s no longer about the music.

In my previous post we talked about the impact music has on the work environment. Music has a certain kind of power that can actually have an influence on our every day life.

Recently I read an article about Taylor Swift. She posted her personal opinion about her political preference on instagram.

I was stunned when I read the reactions on social media. There were those who backed her up and  then there are those  throwing all kinds of negative messages and certain “wishes” towards her that I will not repeat. There were even “groups” who were “hating” on her, cause according to them society polluted “their girl”.  

And my question is, why? What’s going on?

I respect the fact that after being silent about it for so long she feels  a certain urge to speak out. Especially when it’s a topic that everyone has their own strong opinion about and when you look at the state of the world we’re in today, it’s not strange at all that she did this. She’s a big role model for a lot of people and she’s trying to “use” her voice for the better. Speaking up and telling your mind, your truth, should never be a bad thing.  So regardless which party she’s supporting, she’s also showing us that it’s ok to speak up and have an opinion. She’s not telling you who you have to side with, no she’s sharing her concerns, her thoughts, her beliefs, her choices and that you have the possibility and power to change things by voting. 

What I don’t get is that people start attacking right away. They don’t really read what she wrote, they just pick out the words that they wanna see. Get your facts straight, cause honestly what the hell do we know? That’s the danger of social media. We assume we know and “throw” stuff at each other, cause it’s a “safe way” of telling what we are really thinking without having the person directly in front of our face. We tend to act before we think more and more.

What is sad however is the fact that because of this “storm” a lot of people immediately comment her music like: ”I’m not going to buy her music anymore, her songs suck anyway, let’s boycott her”, etc.

If the music is good and you’ve always enjoyed it, just because in this case the artist has an opinion about a certain subject that’s more based on their personal life why suddenly does the music sucks? So this means you’re going to stop singing and dancing to “Shake It Off” when it’s playing on the radio even though you were always grooving to it? Whenever the song “Love Story” is on are you really going to put the volume off?

How does that work? Do we associate the music with the way the person that’s executing the song thinks/feels/live their life? If you have a strong and negative opinion about the LGBT community does this means you’re going to stop singing along with “La Vida Loca”? 

Can you imagine when we start boycotting artists cause of their opinion, sexuality, religion, race and so on? It would be a damn quiet and boring world don’t you think? Ofcourse every artist has their own fanbase. And the next question that pops up is are you a fan of the music or a fan of the artist? (We’ll discuss that in a future post)

Cause of the internet and social media and our curiosity it’s so easy to peek in the private life of the artist. The focus is on their love life and the clothes they’re wearing and the people they have beef with while the reason why they are in the spotlight in the first place, which is music, falls completely to the background. And to be honest the artists don’t always mind the “extra” attention.

Artists are the real storytellers about what’s going on in our world, in our society. They are the ones who speak up and paint the picture through their art when no one else is, to be the voice of the voiceless, cause that’s the beauty of the arts. Doesn’t matter if you are a sculptor, painter, singer, actor. In a way they are creatively documenting our history. When it comes to music there are those who really listen to the words and can associate with what’s being sung, while others pick up the beat at first and don’t even pay attention to what the person is singing about. I mean I bet each one of us experienced messing up the lyrics of a song while singing along. Years later you realize you were singing something completely different and the song wasn’t about what you thought it was about. You notice that the words are “Most of all” and not “Monster Love”...lol (I think that’s a good topic for a future post.) (I’m referring to the song by Melee “Built to Last” my mom messed up those lyrics everytime) Sometimes we don’t even know what the artist is singing about, remember MacArthur Park by Donna Summer? Did we care? Not really cause the beat was on and we could dance to it..lol

Anywayz, nowadays it seems like it’s becoming more difficult for the next generation to put the focus on the music, to really understand the message and the story behind it. Especially when the first question the artist get asked while walking the red carpet at an award show is “What and who are you wearing?”. Somehow what they’re wearing is more important than what they’re sharing artistically.

And now there’s the uproar of Kanye (excuse me..I mean Ye) visiting Trump. You don’t have to agree with either of them, but they both got the attention they probably wanted and also in this case it’s no longer about the music, but about “using” your fame and popularity to get to your next goal, to gain more power, more attention. Each agenda is different and it’s like there’s a shift in the intentions of the artist which is getting bigger.

Yes music is universal, it connects, it unites, but does it really? Study says it does and that it is a social glue, notably for the electronic dance community and the instrumental performers.........uh huh....exactly......NO LYRICS......which means no opinions, just feeling and your own interpretations of the sounds. But then again it’s really nice to be able to sing along with songs who do have lyrics isn’t it? Regardless the message behind it.

So whatever opinion you have, whatever your beliefs, don’t take it out on the music. Instead use music as a tool to speak up!

Let’s start the discussion, what’s your opinion about this subject? Are we in any position at all to judge artists? Should the artist stick to their craft or do they have a much bigger role than just music? And....is it possible to put the focus back on the tunes?


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Music @ work……Yay or Nay?

How does music impact your everyday life? I don’t know if it’s just me but how many people nowadays still have the radio on at home? I remember the radio would be on every day in our house, actually that’s still the case. I don’t like the quietness in the house and music is a good remedy to fill up the room. Most of us only listen to the radio when we are in our car, but how does it work at your job?

We spend a huge amount of our time at our workplace. Somehow having music in the background makes time go faster, well atleast that’s my point of view. Although there are always people who say they can’t focus with all that “noise”. (“geez”)

There have been multiple researches about music and what it can do to people and there’s a lot of discussion about whether it’s true or not. Ofcourse there are those who remain skeptical eventhough results show differently. There are doctors who recommend listening to soft music when a person is in a depression or feeling sad. According to them, music can have a really positive impact upon the heart of the listener and can revive the spirit. Music can help express those emotions which are otherwise hard to put into words. It can actually trigger a range of emotions.

Besides doing this blog I also work at an office. My workplace has a radio which is always on and then there are those spaces where there’s no music at all. The silence makes me restless. One of my colleagues once said that she DOESN NOT like music and never listens to music at all!!!!! WTF? Do they still make people like that?.....lol. Really how can you not like music? There must be something you like to hear. Music unites and can bring joy, maybe that’s why this person is grumpy most of the times and doesn’t really interact socially. That’s one of the powers within music cause it really can enlarge your world and trigger curiosity. Listening to music with lyrics can interfere with your ability to learn new information.

When you’re not exposed to certain things in life, you have little or no knowledge about it’s existence, this way you don’t know or you don’t allow yourself to experience the feeling.

American musician Billy Joel once said. "I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music." (I think my colleague would disagree, maybe she doesn’t have a soul...lol)

Music releases dopamine in the reward center of the brain which can help improve focus.

So if your work requires deep focus, the advice is to listen to familiar songs. Try it and see what it does.

Research says impact of having music in your work environment has the following benefits:

- It can be therapeutical

- It can boost productivity

- It lifts moods

- It increases endurance

- It improves memory

- It forms good habit

Anything else missing? You agree with these outcomes or not? How do you experience music at your workplace? Maybe it’s not even an option in your work environment. Let me know.


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Now what?

It’s been awhile, I’m sorry. 🙂 I’ll try to post as often as I can.

For awhile I’ve been following various music students and graduates. I keep in touch with them to see what they’re up to and where they’re at the moment. It’s interesting and sometimes surprising to see the different paths they follow. 

What I witness a lot during my talks with students is that the ones who just started their program have this positive attitude and confidence that they’ll have a job for sure in the area that they wanna be at, while at the end of the school year they get a bit less confident and a bit more nervous. Why? Cause it doesn’t always turn out the way you expect it to be. 

You graduate, you have your diploma and now what? That’s a ❓ that comes to mind and not only to those who study music. You gained all this knowledge (hopefully) during your school years and now it’s time to go out there which is not an easy thing, cause where do you start and what is it you really want? Most of the time you’ll eventually work in a place that doesn’t even match the career you had in mind. And then you ask yourself what the heck happened? Well in most cases LIFE ❗ that’s what happened. It makes you wonder if you are in control of choosing your path or has it already been drawn out for you.

Eventually it’s up to you to take the next step.

When you graduate, it’s done. The school has done their job and now you’re the one who needs to make the next move. I hear stories from students telling school doesn’t assist them after they graduate. Exactly! You know why? ....... Cause they don’t have to. If you want to get something done, make sure you do it during your school years. You paid for school to learn something. You go to school for 1, 2, 3, 4, years, maybe longer. During that time gain all the knowledge you can and ASK your teachers to advice you. Never stop asking questions. Ofcourse there are the exceptions, but keep in mind as soon as you’re out the building, you’re OUT and on your own. Some of us do ask questions and attend as much classes possible, while others tend to not do that, cause somehow we feel like we’ve got this.... Well, we don’t.

Trust me I was surprised at first when I heard about the lack of “aftercare”. Somehow we expect the school to help us further after graduation. Although the school is not obligated to do so, it would be nice if they would create some kind of service that could offers some of assistance after you leave. There are a couple of schools who do have some “aftercare”, but what they created is more of a portal where you can get in touch with former students. This could of course be useful, but in the end you’ll notice it’s up to you anyway.

My opinion is, that when schools do invest in the “aftercare” it’ll only be in their advantage. The feedback students give them will help develop the schools program even more and for the better. This way they can shape and form their information to the current state of the business and prepare the new students for what’s out there. Somehow schools don’t tend to invest much in that part, cause they think more about what they can gain financially right now, at this moment, instead of looking further into the future. Not being aware of what’s really going on. When students leave school a bit clueless, it could have a negative effect on the future of music, cause there’s always a group of students  who don’t continue their path in the world of music. I’ll be publishing interviews I had with students in Future of Music section soon and how they experienced life after graduation. Some struggled and decided to do something completely different, while others didn’t have any problems at all.

What is important to know is that you need to be prepared and don’t expect anything. That’s the most important lesson, expect nothing! This way you won’t be disappointed. Most schools don’t really teach you or tell you what happens next. They expect that now they gave you the tools (the once that they think you need), you know how to apply them. You start searching the internet and you respond to the jobs listed. In most cases they ask for people with experience, which is pretty impossible when you just finished school? The search can be a very long process with ups and downs and it takes a lot of effort, commitment, determination and persistence. There will come a point that you feel like you’ve lost all hope, but somehow something always happens. It may not have the outcome you were hoping for, but it doesn’t just stop.

There are so many factors that can influence your path but when you’re driven and focused enough, you’ll eventually find a way to get to the destination you had in mind.

I recently had a talk with someone about my path. The question WHAT IS IT YOU WANT? made me self reflect on everything. I knew what I wanted my goal to be, somehow along the way I stopped in the middle of that road, cause I lost sight of my goal. I was in my own safe-zone and why would I leave that zone? I liked the security, but what did it really add? You get so used to this zone, the chances are you become too comfortable and get stuck in that zone.

The big problem is taking that leap of faith. Some are more daring and just jump in while others are more satisfied with the safe-zone they’re in, which is also understandable, but to be honest it doesn’t really get you anywhere and it isn’t really exciting when you think about the dreams you really have.

It’s not that easy in getting that dream job in the music business. The competition is pretty high and nowadays it’s difficult getting an internship. I mean there are no record companies like back in the days and there are less studios, cause most people can record their own stuff just at home. Not to mention the possibilities within social media like YouTube. And another thing, what are the possible jobs within the music industry? Not a lot of people are aware of all the options available in this business and are too focused on the performance area. Keep in mind that to be able to perform you need other people to assist you (manager, wardrobe, producer, musicians, etc.). There are so many music related jobs, the possibilities are endless and I feel it’s important that we become aware of that, but I’ll discuss that in a future blog post.

What does come in handy is when you have “connections” in the business, but how does it work when you don’t? Start networking!! You can never start too early with that. And with networking I mean meeting people FACE to FACE.

Someone once told me if you look for your “WHY” things will fall into place.

Education is one of those basic needs in life. In order to get something done, you need to know how to do it, WHY you’re doing it and what will it take to get it done.

A diploma is not the guarantee you know it all and that you get the job you had in mind just like that. Does this means we shouldn’t even put in the effort? No on the contrary.

Stay focused, follow your heart and use all the resources you have around you to get the answer to your WHY.

It may not succeed the first time, or the 2nd or 3rd or 37th time, but eventually it will.

There are multiple paths to take and along the way you too will find your comfort in the safe-zone, from that point on it eventually is up to you to see what’s at the end of that road. But if you’re driven and committed enough you will get to the destination you had in mind, even if it means that you have to take a detour.

I want to know your experience and your thoughts. Maybe you have good advice or a complete different experience. Please share. Cause in the end we are all here to learn something.


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A career in MUSIC

The I AM MUSIC section is partly up and running. Under the performance section you’ll find what a music director is according to Melvin Lee Davis.

In the I AM MUSIC section I allow the professional music industry people explain in their words what they think their job description is. Each person interprets the work and what they do differently. This way you’ll get an honest insight of what it really means to work in a certain area of the music business.

I’ve always wanted to work in the music business, but didn’t really know about all the possibilities within the industry. Until last year when I got hold of this poster which contained (at that time) all the different careers and jobs within music. (I bet there are more you can add to the list right now)

I was fascinated with the poster and wanted to know what the content of each of the jobtitles actually was. That’s also one of the reasons why I started this blog, to present to you what the options are within this music business and the ways to get there

The journey just started and i’m looking forward to all things music i’ll run into.

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Who’s BAD?

Today is the 60th birthday of the King of Pop Michael Jackson. One of the most legendary artists of all time and I had the privilege to see him perform live a couple of times.

When people ask me what my favorite MJ concert is I always say; the BAD world tour.

It was the first time I ever saw Michael live and it was my first big stadium concert experience. I was and still am a huge MJ fan. I would record all of his videos and play them over and over again on the VCR till I got all those dance moves right. As soon as I came home from school I would go up to my room and dance. I danced so much there was a big hole in the carpet in the middle of my room, that’s how much I loved it and that’s how committed I was.

At that time there was no internet or YouTube so if Michael had a new video out you’d better make sure your butt was in front of the tv to record it on time. Nowadays if you want to see a video of your favorite artist you just go online and search for it. Back in the days (OMG, I sound so old) you had to put in more effort to get hold on footage of the artist you admired. I think cause of that it made them become a bit untouchable. 

The BAD concert had a very big impact on me. I went to the show with my parents and my lil’ brother. It was Michael’s first big show in the Netherlands. We were seated way in the back of the stadium. I still remember the vibe, it‘s something I can’t describe, cause you just had to be there. The audience was so diverse, every age, color and religion was represented. The combination of Michael and the power he gave to the music made everyone unite in this stadium. 

“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” was the opening song and I still recall how the entire stadium was shaking the moment the screens on either side of the stage lit up and the illustration of MJ’s feet doing his signature move was projected. The feeling that the performers, the music and the surrounding gave me was amazing. People around me were laughing, crying, screaming, singing, but all in a positive way. It felt like the crowd was hypnotized by this amazing performer who gave his all to give the best show ever. I can write an entire story about that concert, but I’m not going to, cause my words don’t come close to the real experience. You just had to be there. 

Yes you can listen to music and you can look at a performance on your screen at home, but trust me it’s not the same as when you’re actually in the audience. So if I can give a piece of advice to you it would be: if you get the chance to see a live performance, just go there and be part of it, EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC AND THE POWER OF MUSIC!

Happy Birthday Michael Jackson! Thank you for being an inspiration !



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An angel with a bass guitar.

The talk I had with my big brother Melvin Lee Davis is finally up at the Portraits section. Like mentioned in an earlier post I’ve known Melvin for such a long time. He’s become part of the family and every time he’s in the neighborhood he always manages to make time for us. We’ve seen him on stage so many times and each time we see him play it makes us proud. There were times he would say: “If you guys aren’t in the audience I’m not gonna play.”...lol

I’m thankful for the fact that I met him, because he’s the first one who actually gave me the chance to explore the music industry by managing him. He believed in my talent. Through him not only did I learn a lot but I got to meet a lot of people, one of them being my big sister Patrice Rushen.

Melvin is best described as a big angel on earth. That’s how my mom would always refer to him. Being in his presence lifts you up and he has this charm that makes it impossible to dislike him. You can sense the love for music he has when he’s playing the bass. The joy he has on and off stage is inspiring. A very postive spirit who won’t let himself get caught up in negativity.

Melvin’s new album Genre: Music Chapter 2 (Joni) is out now!


Stephen Webber, Liz Teutsch, me, Patrice Rushen & Maria M. Iturriaga

Pictured: Melvin Lee Davis

Stephen Webber, Liz Teutsch, me, Patrice Rushen & Maria M. Iturriaga

Pictured: Me, Melvin Lee Davis & my mom

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Being social without a phone.

In January I was visiting Berklee because Patrice would be there an entire week to teach various classes. It was the first day for me at campus and the students gathered in the Palau waiting for the presentation to start. Like always I was just sitting in the audience when suddenly this girl with a big smile came up to me and the first thing she says is: “I like your pants”. (I was wearing the Pharell G-Star pants and they do stand out, just a bit....lol) Those 4 words were the start of a special friendship. We talked more about pants and of course music. She was in Valencia for the “Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television and Video Games” graduate program.

Pictured: Me & Karlyne Felix

Along the way I found out that everyone at campus knew who she was and vice versa. She has an honest and sincere interest in each person she meets, she talks to everyone and if you didn’t know her yet then she would make sure you would never forget her. 

At a time where people are pretty much obsessed with their phones so they can focus on social media and their network, Felix has a whole different approach. Yes she has a phone.......that doesn’t work. She can only receive stuff, but she can’t send nor call. So if there’s an emergency then we wish her good luck....lol.

But how is it possible that someone without a phone nowadays creates connections so easily? “It’s not that difficult”, she explains. “I surround myself with people who have a phone and I just ask them to use theirs to send only the quick necessary messages. By doing that I’m surrounded by people all the time”.

It’s true cause I’ve seen it and experienced it. People actually let her use their phones without hesitation and during my stay in Valencia I always got a response from her, regardless the time.

Felix is besides a very social and uplifting person also a very honest one willing to help others out when needed. The interview gives an insight on how she experienced her year at the Valencia campus. If there’s something she doesn’t agree with or doesn’t like she’ll speak up even for the people who don’t have the guts to do it themselves.

Her smile, her positive drive and the way she approaches everyone the same way makes me understand why people would lend her their phones.......and besides that she’s really good at music scoring.

Her appearance on stage during graduation was one to remember for sure. She was literally dancing her way to her diploma. Thank you Felix for letting me be part of that celebration.

Read the interview with Karlyne Felix @ The Future of Music section or just click here.



Pictured: Karlyne Felix & Patrice Rushen

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Yes I did that!!

I met Melvin Lee Davis at a Lee Ritenour concert many years ago. My dad is a huge Ritenour fan and asked me to join him and my mom to see the show. After the show there was an opportunity to meet with Lee, so we waited in front of the stage. While waiting I asked Mel to take a picture with me which he did by actually laying down on the stage....lol. We started talking and he asked us if we could help him sell his CD’s. We were happy to help out and before we knew it they were sold out in no time. Being so focused on selling the CD’s we lost track of time and missed out meeting Lee, turned out that he already left.....lol. Mel said he would make it up to us and ever since we’ve stayed in touch.

Stephen Webber, Liz Teutsch, me, Patrice Rushen & Maria M. Iturriaga

Pictured: Melvin Lee Davis

A couple of months after our first meeting Melvin had to perform at the North Sea Jazz Festival with Lee Ritenour again and this time we got to finally meet Lee. After telling Melvin that I just graduated from my Music Management study, he asked me to be his manager. At first I thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t. Being new to the world of music I started my own little company called LittleWing management. I began designing Mel’s website, promoted his music and ended up organizing various clinics for him at conservatories throughout Holland.

In 2003 Melvin released the album “Nature’s Serenade”. I still remember the time he was recording and working on the project, cause part of the work he did at our house in Oosterhout. He stayed in my brother’s tiny room and even though the room was so small, he really loved it. My cousin even brought a bass amp so Mel could record and play at our house. I still recall my cousin (who is a fan) sitting in the living room in front of the stairs just listening while Mel was playing bass in the room upstairs. 

Stephen Webber, Liz Teutsch, me, Patrice Rushen & Maria M. Iturriaga

Pictured: Melvin Lee Davis, me & Matt Goss

The project was almost finished, but he still needed to put together the booklet and find a design for the album cover. When I told him I wouldn’t mind helping out, I started putting down ideas. This however wasn’t a guarantee he would actually use my work.

A couple of weeks later I met up with Melvin in London. He was performing with Matt Goss, who was the opening act of Mariah Carey’s Charmbracelet World Tour. During my stay in London I came up with different ideas and made various designs and pictures for the project, never expecting he would actually pick my work.

When Melvin released Nature’s Serenade I was surprised, happy, proud and also very honored to have been part of this project. Because not only did he use my pictures and design for the cover, he also mentioned me, my family, my company and even referred to his room in the booklet.

Melvin has always been special to me and my family. He actually is family. There are no words to describe the bond we have, but as long as he knows and we know, it’s all good.

Thank you sweet Mel for being the best big brother ever, for actually believing in me and giving me the opportunity to work on the Nature’s Serenade project!

The interview I did with Melvin about how he ended up the music industry will be online later this week.


Stephen Webber, Liz Teutsch, me, Patrice Rushen & Maria M. Iturriaga
Stephen Webber, Liz Teutsch, me, Patrice Rushen & Maria M. Iturriaga

Pictured: Nature’s Serenade cover (above) and the mention in the booklet (below)

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The best smile!

First time I met mr. Victor Mendoza was 6 years ago. He took us and a couple of students out for tapas. He was actually the first faculty member I met at the Valencia campus.

The thing with Victor is, is that he’s so likeable. A great man with the best sense of humor and so much passion for his profession. He’s a musician who knows how to teach as well. Keep in mind that not every musician is a great teacher.

His students all admire him, not only cause they are impressed with the work he has done, but mainly cause he makes time for each and every one of them. He’s the kind of teacher who wants to make his students better. They all know him and he knows all of them.

The students arrive at Berklee with a dream which is to have a successful career in music. Victor knows what the life of a musician is all about and he knows it’s not an easy one. The way he approaches the studentst and guides them is very admirable. He loves music so much it’s important to him that the quality of the music is maintained and that the future of music is save.

Read the interview I did with one of the kindest music teachers around in the Portraits section.

Pictured: Victor Mendoza

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