Last year 17-year-old flutist Chaz Salazar performed on From the Top’s Mesa, AZ taping in November as a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award recipient. These days, Chaz is involved in several projects, including leading flute sectionals and giving private lessons to a few students at his old elementary school in Phoenix, AZ. As a student at Rosie’s House, a music academy that provides free private lessons for low-income families, Chaz believes strongly in giving back to his community.
“My goal is to give back what was given to me, because without it [music], I wouldn’t be where I am today. I also believe that music can change lives, as it did mine. “
FTT: How did you come up with your project idea?
Chaz: After being featured on From the Top and attending the Arts Leadership program, I was motivated to undertake a project of my own. I decided to teach the flute students at Valley View Elementary School to broaden their horizons in music.
FTT: How did you choose to teach at Valley View Elementary School?
Chaz: Valley View was my elementary school, which is where I began to play the flute. I had a lot of help from my band director, Mr. Edward Gaona, and I figured that now it is my turn to help others.
FTT: What has it been like teaching at your old school?
Chaz: It has been a great experience teaching at Valley View. I get to know all of the students and teach them what I love to do, it’s amazing.
FTT: What have been some of the best experiences that you’ve gotten from teaching?
Chaz: My favorite moment in the process of teaching and learning is what I call the “A-ha” moment—the moment when the student suddenly has an epiphany. I love it when I’m teaching a flute class and one or all of the students know exactly what I’m talking about and apply it to their playing–it’s extremely rewarding.
I believe that the students take away not only more information and knowledge about playing the flute but general insight about reaching certain goals; I believe this is a very important experience to have and understand because life is a journey.
FTT: What have you learned from your project? Any insights you would like to share with us?
Chaz: I know that this experience has actually improved my playing and musicianship. By teaching, I can reinforce the concepts my private teachers teach me. It really stimulates my mind to try to find ways to teach the class these ideas; it’s almost like translating one language to another.
FTT: Any advice for other musicians who want to do outreach projects in schools?
Chaz: For other musicians thinking about executing such a project, I would like to mention that organization and communication are key in a well-operating program. Once the general foundation is set, anything is possible through teaching and learning music!