Meet our teacher Josafat, who recently got his master’s in guitar performance. His years of experience include being the music director for the Smart Foundation, which provides free music education to the kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Ana. It also included a wonderful music performance excursion in Argentina, something he speaks fondly of. Josafat teaches voice, piano, guitar, and bass, and we couldn’t be happier to have him.
MM: What instruments do you play, how did you get started with each one, and how long have you played them?
JV: I became passionate for music when I first interacted with the acoustic guitar. I remember attending a church service and was observing the guitar player. I went up to him and asked for guitar lessons. From there on the guitar was a gateway to becoming passionate for music and eventually learning other instruments. These instruments include piano, voice, and bass. Even though guitar is my main instrument, I have a passion to sing! I have been playing bass and piano for about 6 years.
MM: Who has inspired you musically?
JV: I would have to say my undergrad professor Michael Nigro. He literally taught me everything I know. I didn’t know much about the guitar when I went to Vanguard University, and quite frankly I didn’t play very well. He was very patient and genuinely cared about me and my education. His dedication in teaching inspired me to practice and become better in my craft. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be good enough to go to graduate school.
MM: What are your favorite musical genres, and why?
JV: I like rock, indie, acoustic, and jazz. Although, I really like 20th Century Latin and Spanish music. It became a part of my education in college because this type of Latin music interested me and I eventually played this style on my classical guitar. I recommend listening to Isaac Albeniz, Heitor Villa-lobos, and Astor Piazzolla (he revolutionized tango to make it more modern).
MM: What are your current musical projects?
JV: I stay involved in the music ministry at my church, by leading worship and playing acoustic guitar. I also play in small gigs here and there, but currently I am more focused on trying to get as much teaching experience as I can. Besides teaching at Molly’s Music and private students of my own, I intern at Vanguard University by helping their guitar program.
MM: How do you practice, and how do you balance music with some of your other life goals? How do you help your students practice?
JV: Practice takes dedication! I typically do four hours a day, but when I was working on my masters I was doing a little bit more than that (Important to note that not everyone is going to practice 4 hours a day! 30 minutes everyday goes a long way in becoming better in your desired instrument. It’s better to spread your practice time throughout the week, rather than cramming all of it in one day.) Balancing practice time along with life and other priorities takes discipline and planning. What helps me is distributing the hours throughout the day and keeping a log journal to write down what I did. It’s also important to become interested and staying engaged in your practice time. I know scales and technique can become quite frustrating, so keep it fun! Reward yourself in finding fun songs or pieces to play!
MM: Tell me about your work at the Smart Foundation. What do you work on at the Boys and Girls Club? How has that experience been?
JV: The Smart Foundation was a great experience! It was a non-profit organization that focused on giving music education to kids that didn’t have access to the arts. We did our work at the Boys and Girls club in Santa Ana and gave classes to students ranging from the ages of 5-18. I did a variety of classes such as guitar, guitar ensemble, music appreciation, and flute recorders. I very much enjoyed it and was rewarded with seeing how much the kids enjoyed being involved in music.
MM: Tell me about your performance experience. I read in your bio that you performed in Argentina. Tell me about that.
JV: Traveling to Argentina was probably an experience I will never forget. I went there as part of a guitar festival that Vanguard University participated in. We were a group of 12 guitarists that prepared repertoire for the festival. It was a 10-day stay where we did a lot of concerts based off of Argentine folk music such as the tango. Additionally, I got to experience a lot of the Argentine culture. For instance, they truly live life in “relax” mode, where they don’t stress about the intricacies of the day. They have siestas during the weekday so that they can spend part of the day with their families before heading back to work or school. I learned that they value enjoying life by spending time with family and loved ones. It was an eye opener when coming back to the states, because it inspired me to cherish life more, even when we go through sticky situations. On a side note: They also love their meat! Which was fantastic because I am a huge meat lover.
MM: How did you enjoy your guitar performance degree?
JV: It was a fantastic feeling earning my masters degree in guitar performance. It took a lot of work and dedication, but it was well worth it. It was hard, but I had the support of family and friends encouraging me to persevere. I had the privilege to learn with well respected guitarists within the guitar world such as Martha Masters and Andrew York (give them a listen on YouTube!).
MM: If you were stranded on an island and only had one album with you, what would it be?
JV: That’s tough! I love Coldplay and their many albums. But if I had to choose, I would pick A Rush of Blood to the Head.