MS Credential Candidate, Mary Roosevelt Scholar
School of Education
March 1, 2014
Musician Sets Sites on Teaching Elementary Students
Eric Garcia’s teaching journey began when he was 15 years old, teaching private drum lessons and coaching the junior high drumline in his hometown of Merced, California. He took an interest in music at an early age, and it was his first musical influences–Snoop Dogg and Metallica–that led to his taking up an instrument. After months of experiencing Eric’s destruction of laundry baskets and every pot and pan in the house, Eric’s Dad realized he could no longer afford not to get his son a drum set.
“Christmas was especially magical in 1993 when Santa left a beat-up, used drum set underneath the tree for a young aspiring musician. I never played another video game again!!!”
Eric was going places, and music was the vehicle getting him there. His first stop was junior high marching band where he played the bass drum.
Nobody wanted to play the bass drum in marching band, so the kid who did play it was usually made fun of. It was my first time playing an instrument in a school setting, and it turned out to be a great learning experience. My first band teacher, Mr. Lewis, was so passionate about music and encouraging to his students. He told me that the bass drum is one of the most import parts of the band because it provides the pulse that everyone marches to.
Mr. Lewis’s passion would inspire Eric to continue to play music in high school, where he met his first, and ultimately most influential, teacher, Mr. Christiansen.
Mr. C was the high school band director and an amazing teacher. He knew how to speak to students in a way that inspired us to give our best every time.
The relationship developed with Mr. Christiansen would provide Eric with the evidence that teachers can change student’s lives and leave an impact that can potentially last forever.
He also got me my first teaching gig.
After high school, Eric attended CSU East Bay, on scholarship, to study music. The Bay Area provided many opportunities for Eric to both teach and perform.
Living in the Bay Area was a great time for me because I learned so much about music and people.
Eric describes his time at CSUEB as the place where he learned how to learn. His interest in teaching really grew while working on his undergraduate degree. He got a job giving lessons at a local music store to students of all ages with all different backgrounds. It was during this time that Eric started to see teaching as a craft that, much like playing an instrument, required practice and preparation.
I began to make more room in my schedule for teaching and less for performing.
After six years of calling the Bay Area home, Eric decided it was time for a change. He moved to Los Angeles to get a master’s degree at the University of Southern California. He attended USC on a Dean’s scholarship and was the first recipient of the Pancho Sanchez Percussion Scholarship.
The creative energy at the Thornton School of Music was incredible, and I was inspired by everything around me.
Eric’s USC mentor teacher, Peter Erskine, was a master musician and dedicated teacher.
Mr. Erskine provided an approach to teaching that I have been able to transfer from music to all the elementary school subjects.
After graduating from USC, Eric knew he wanted to be a teacher, but he was not sure what kind of teacher.
Ultimately, it was my six-year-old nephew, who is simultaneously invigorating and exhausting, that inspired me to want to teach elementary school.
Currently, Eric is about two-thirds of the way through the Multiple Subject Teacher Credential program at UC Irvine. He is one of eight students in the credential program selected as a Mary Roosevelt Honor Scholar.
The program has been intense, but getting to work with elementary students has been a rewarding experience. The teachers at UC Irvine are available and supportive, and after getting through the first quarter of the program, I no longer feel any apprehension or uncertainty at all about the career path that I have chosen.
When not staying up late lesson planning or doing math homework, Eric enjoys riding his bike, watching TV, and hanging out with his girlfriend. He would like to get his master’s in teaching, be a mentor teacher, and someday maybe even become a principal. But first and for most, he is looking forward to finishing his training and getting a job as a teacher.