Miguel Hidalgo, Instilling an Appreciation for Music One Class at a Time

News, Staff Spotlights

At eleven years old, Miguel Hidalgo’s neighbor decided to give Miguel his old saxophone. Miguel decided to try his hand at it, and he fell in love with the rich, calming sound. That interest launched him into his life’s calling. He went on to graduate from one of the top music schools in our country, Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He then continued his education by earning his master’s degree from North Carolina Central University with his hero, the accomplished saxophonist Branford Marsalis. Miguel’s expertise, talent, and kindness has made him a successful and beloved teacher at Esperanza Academy High School.

Miguel’s approach to teaching is patient and methodic. Mastering a piece of music takes constant practice and Miguel encourages, corrects, and cheers on each student as they work to learn the music. When asked about their teacher, his students remark on his kindness. One such student, twelfth grader Juan Velez, says this of his instructor, “He gives off that energy of a cool and genuine down-to-earth person that you can be around. He’ll teach you. He won’t belittle you if you mess up. He’ll be like follow this way or try it this way. And then, he’ll help you get progressively better.” Miguel’s gentle coaching creates a safe environment for students to take the vulnerable leap into learning a new instrument.

Marly Figueroa, another 12th grader in the music major, describes Mr. Hidalgo as inspirational. She likes how he weaves music lessons into life lessons and does this through his iteration of many quotes in class. One such quote is from Bruce Lee, a quote that Hidalgo himself reiterated at the senior awards ceremony. The quote says, “Be water, my friend. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Standing on a stage to share your vocal or musical talent in front of family and friends is an intimidating venture. Miguel recognizes this and uses this quote to encourage them to be open to this vulnerability. Marly says she likes the quote because it recognizes the way that music can change you and even shape you into a better person. Allowing yourself to be open to new experiences can lead to many new and exciting opportunities and possibilities!

Many students begin the music major without any prior musical experience, but by the time they reach the spring concert, they are wowing the audience with their mastered musical melodies. Miguel starts by teaching them how to read music and play their instrument, but he also exposes them to a variety of different artists like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Count Basie, Chicago, and Led Zeppelin. He says, “We listen to everything and anything. I am pretty open to anything. We have looked at Kendrick Lamar and hip-hop.” Some of these artists, students may have never listened to before, but through this exposure they are able to see the depth of musical talent and aspire towards different techniques, sounds, and genres. Miguel also connects students with a variety of accomplished musicians through the Teatro at Esperanza. These connections allow students to collaborate with talented musicians and pushes them to see how far their talent can take them.

The music major is a popular track. Students enjoy not only learning the ins and outs of the industry, but they also deeply appreciate and connect with their instructor. Esperanza Academy is grateful to have such a talented and compassionate educator to oversee our music major. His devotion to our students enrichens our community with their vibrant performances, and he serves as an excellent role model for our scholars.

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