From the Source: Nic Higuera

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I got my bachelor’s and master’s in music education, and I was a teacher for a couple of years. I really enjoyed teaching, but I wanted more from my life. I wanted to be able to go do things, to see things. And I wanted to be able to pump more money into music so I could actually explore the ventures that I wanted to. But as a teacher you’re never going to be able to afford that, it’s one or the other. You’re really giving 150 percent of yourself for almost next to nothing. And while money necessarily isn’t everything, it allows you to do a lot of things here. You can give back to your community in a much better, more efficient way when you’re not begging people for a couple thousand dollars to make a project happen.

I’d always thought about being able to teach myself these things, but it’s the structure and work environment that I really like, so much, which is one of the reasons I decided to come to a bootcamp to begin with. Out of all the schools I looked at, Galvanize had the best resources. And it was the longest program, so I’d have more student interaction time. From the first time I came here for my first info meeting, I was 100 percent sold after being in the building for two hours. I knew this was what I wanted to do.

I studied percussion in college, but I also play saxophone, so I’m relatively well-rounded. I can do all the things.

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I was teaching as a general band director. Conducting, arranging. I would have to teach every instrument within my ensemble. So say someone in our brass section had an issue, I’d have to teach them how to play something on their instrument, something I may not have studied. But that’s one of the things you learn in music ed. They make you learn how to play all these other instruments so that when it comes to teaching techniques and approach, and trying to get their ear in the right place, you can actually describe things that make sense to them on their instrument.

The thing that has really resonated the most is the passionate drive. I’m in a room full of people who want to be here. This is their goal. When you’re teaching K through 12, you get a couple of those kids who really want to do it, but music has such a wide range of student base. A lot of those kids are there because their parents wanted them to do it, or they feel obligated to do it because it rounds them out for college applications. They don’t really put 100 percent of themselves into the craft. So it’s about finding that one kid who gets it and giving them the tools that they need to take their love for this knowledge and take it to the next level.

I haven’t really decided what I want to do yet. That’s part of the fun of being in a program like this. I’m learning so many things that it gives me the opportunity to really dive deep into all these subjects and find that passion again in a specific subsection. It may be that I fall in love with front-end development. Maybe I can’t get enough of building databases and servers. I haven’t really figured that out yet. There’s so many avenues in this world where you can create things for other people, and just a lot of opportunities to work with very different individuals compared to what I was doing before.

A friend and I have been talking about building a mobile app where I can create a musical curriculum. Like from a starter core curriculum all the way up to advanced lessons. Then once they get to advanced lessons, I want to connect those people with private instructors in their area who are willing to help them at an affordable rate. That’s something that I definitely notice as a teacher is that there’s a couple kids who have access to private instructors, and those kids are very talented at what they do because of all the extra instruction they have. Most kids who go to K through 12 don’t have that opportunity. And that’s a shame, because that’s the only way that any of these music programs will really flourish. If you can find a way to make it affordable, and fun, then there’s no reason why they won’t spend an hour practicing every day, instead of the 10 minutes or not even picking up their instrument at all.

A big struggle as an instructor is inspiring kids to go home and want to work on two measures for thirty minutes. That can be totally draining, but when you conquer it, it’s such a great feeling of accomplishment. It’s the same thing as writing code that works. Building an application after spending two or three days breaking a thousand things, only to figure out exactly why you broke it, and why it works. It’s like its own little art form.

-Nic Higuera, Galvanize Web Development student in San Francisco, California.

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