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Class and Staff Feature - Michael Urquidi

Mr. Urquidi poses with his 1st Grade Paper Orchestra Students

Michael Urquidi is one of 20 Resident Artists for the Roosevelt Elementary Music Immersion Experience Program. He teaches 1st,and 2nd grade Violin, as well as Ukulele and Handbell Ensembles. He grew up in San Gabriel and has lived here for most of his life, going to school in Montebello.

Mr. Urquidi earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Guitar Performance from Whittier College. While In college, in addition to playing the guitar, he learned how to play in a traditional Brazilian percussion band, performed in the Handbell choir for 4 years, and was a drummer for the college jazz band his senior year. Prior to teaching in the MIE program, Mr. Urquidi taught choir for an afterschool program in LAUSD, and also assisted for the Handbell Choir at First Friends Church.

Each of the music classes in the MIE program work on building a general music foundation as well as instrumental or vocal technique. This means each class works on singing, rhythm, and music theory, with specialized routines according to their instruments. For example, the 2nd and 3rd grade violin classes are working on proper techniques for playing their instruments through exercises and songs. The 1st graders begin with the Paper Orchestra unit, (developed by El Sistema in Venezuela and passed on through YOLA of Los Angeles), and will receive the "real thing" once they've "graduated" from Paper Orchestra by demonstrating their knowledge of the violin through singing songs about the instrument. Similarly, the Handbell class is currently learning how to read music so they can perform “Carol of the Bells” for the Winter concert, which will take place on December 22. The Ukulele class is learning how to meticulously sing while simultaneously playing the ukulele. They will learn “Mele Kalikimaka” for the Winter Concert.

1st Grade Violin meets for 1 hour, 3 days per week. 2nd and 3rd Grade Violin meet for 1 hour, 2 days per week. Every student at Roosevelt Elementary School receive a minimum of 5 hours per week of fundamental music instruction that includes instrument classes, percussion classes, and choir. In addition to their “fundamental period,” students can choose to participate in electives. The Ukulele and Handbell Ensembles are both part of the elective choices. Ukulele Ensemble meets 3 hours per week, and Handbell Choir meets 2 hours per week.

“My favorite part about teaching for MIE, is my students. I see them have a great time learning new music skills and develop a sense of curiosity for music. I hope each child nurtures their curiosity as a result of being in the MIE program,” Mr. Urquidi said. “There are several reasons why it is good for students to be in this program, from beginning a new skill to linking their new skill to their core classes. As long as they keep their curiosity about music, they will learn that music is an endless culture that can benefit them throughout their whole lives.”

Aside from teaching at Roosevelt, Mr. Urquidi is currently preparing to audition for classical guitar graduate programs. He still performs for First Friends Church in Whittier, and is also in a band that will be performing beginning in December.

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