This will be in your bookmarks to revisit at the beginning of the new school year! A truly wonderful sit-down interview with Texas native and Austin-area high school choral director, Adrian O. Rodriguez.  Listen in on how you can start your year off right by building an empowered music program through creating trust and staying relevant!
FYF 018 : From passion to action - Building an empowered music program, with Adrian O. Rodriguez

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Adrian O. Rodriguez currently serves as the Director of Choirs at Stephen F. Austin High School (Sugar Land, TX). In addition to conducting five choirs, he is the music director of the musical theatre program and teaches Advanced Placement Music Theory and Honors Music History.

Rodriguez received his Bachelors of Music in Music Education from the University of Houston (2011) and, after finishing his thesis, will have earned his Masters of Music Education from the Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ).

As an active choral clinician and consultant in Southeast Texas, Rodriguez has worked with a variety of school, church, and community choirs and has been invited to present the Texas Music Educators Association (2015) and the Texas Choral Directors Association (2014). His academic interests include: empowering pedagogical practices, community and culture in school music programs, and building choral sound.

Rodriguez is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators, Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

The moment you knew you’d dedicate your life to music

When Adrian was a sophomore in high school, he felt pressured to follow his parents and go into a “more academic” career like a lawyer or doctor. So, self-doubt set in, and he contemplated leaving chorus. Then his father encouraged him to try out for TMEA All State Choir.  He was accepted. During the festival, Adrian was approached by clinician Betsy Cook Weber, who gave him her business card and encouraged him to apply to the University of Houston. He eventually attended the University of Houston, and owes his success to the support of his father and his mentor Dr. Weber.

Later in high school, he took over rehearsal for the chamber choir in his director’s absence. He found out there how much he loved making music with his peers.

Worst musical moment

When Adrian was in college, he lost himself. Because of “impostor syndrome”, he was doing musical things to impress others, because he didn’t consider himself as talented as those around him. He was pursuing performance, even though he was in Music Ed. He came to the realization that he didn’t like being in a practice room by himself and loved being with others.

Similar to Episode 007: Amanda Quist

The proudest musical moment

As an upperclassman in college, Adrian got the chance to direct a chamber ensemble of his peers.

Your “Forte”

Adrian recently gave a talk at TMEA entitled “From Passion to Action: Building Empowered Music Programs”.  He speaks about his very open and vulnerable relationship with his students. He addresses four things on the first day of school with EACH class: What THEY want to learn, what TEXAS expects, what the PRINCIPAL expects, and what HE believes they should learn. Adrian gets it all out on day 1 and creates an unbelievable trust relationship with his kids.

Adrian even needed to learn to riff, so he used Natalie Weiss – Breaking Down the Riffs on YouTube!

Most excited about right now

Adrian is excited for his second year (he says his first “real” year) at his high school in Austin.

Advice for your younger self

Commit to be relevant to your students and create an education that is meaningful to them.

Book Discussed

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Register to gain access to Adrian’s TMEA presentation slides!

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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are