Guitar program inspires persistence

Elementary guitar director Tyra Reyez has seen her students evolve in many ways since she started teaching the instrument 12 years ago at Austin Montessori Magnet.
Reyez has about 30 students overall and they have been invited to perform at such events as the West Texas Guitar Festival. Reyez uses the MIDI for Kids program. MIDI stands for Music Instruction Develops Intelligence.
The MIDI for Kids website said the program “pairs the reading of music notation with playing by ear. The curriculum also incorporates direct connections to math and language.”
When a student begins the program, Reyez said they don’t know anything about the guitar, practicing or perseverance. But as they stick with it, the students grow, mature, learn teamwork and problem solving.
Students will often look to each other for help if they’re having difficulty with something. Teaching their peers, Reyez said, helps them remember things.
A milestone in their maturation, Reyez said, is after their first performance.
“When they take the stage for the very first time, then they connect the dots; then they start understanding. That’s why I practice, or maybe they hear their friend who’s the same age mastering the song because he put in two more hours during that week, or maybe he came to a second lesson that week that he didn’t really have to but he asked if he could come,” she said.
The second-year class is working on several songs such as “Malagueña” and they would like to learn “Toro.”
“It has beautiful lyrics, but it has the same minor chords in it, so using those same chords I’m trying to help them understand they can virtually play anything they want if they will learn their chords and they will practice. They are more likely to practice on a song they love,” Reyez said.
Reyez said she usually picks out songs for students that she knows will teach them certain skills, but once in a while, a student will request a song and she will try to incorporate it.
Robert Murray and Kelsie Salcido, both 10-year-old fourth-graders, said they think Reyez is “awesome” and they love the program.
Murray is in his second year with the guitar program and Salcido is in her fourth.
Salcido said she enjoys learning different songs and having fun. Both youngsters help teach their peers.
“Sometimes when I do get to teach them, I feel kind of proud. … It’s just fun to teach other kids,” Murray said.
Salcido enjoys performing, as well.
“It’s very weird and sometimes you’re nervous all the time. When you go on to the stage or the floor, then you just look at your stand of music. That’s all you do and then you also look at Ms. Reyez, so you don’t really look at the audience,” Salcido said.
“I think it’s exciting because I get to show other people what I’ve learned. … It isn’t that scary as you’d think. It’s fun,” Murray added.
Marty Flores, father of twins David and Reme Flores, said his children enjoy the classes.
“Their grandpa plays it and they want to learn and this gives them an opportunity to play and they thoroughly enjoy it and just the joy of them learning to play the music it just lights up their faces,” Flores said.