“My job is to foster inquiry and guide journeys of discovery,” says Tony, who began presenting Latin American music in the classroom in 1993. Music and movement were constant elements of his bilingual kindergarten classes in Oakland, California, and while teaching high school in San Francisco, he facilitated a student Brazilian-samba-reggae percussion ensemble.
A veteran teacher of California’s K-12 classrooms, Tony has developed bilingual education resources for public television, and works as a teaching artist at Tacoma Arts Live! and Seattle’s Creative Advantage. He recently wrote curricula for the PBS series, Latino Americans, and the national touring exhibition, American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music. “The guiding principal of my work is the inspiration of convivencia — the co-existence of different worldviews and cultures.”
After working with social studies and performing arts departments, Tony crafted a state-approved world music course: tracing the Silk Road, and exploring the global impact of hip hop are just two of the topics. “I enjoy helping young students do hands-on detective work to discover how disparate cultures create similar instruments or have roots in common. I can’t seem to teach music without addressing history, language, and geography!”
Tony has played and studied percussion for more than 20 years, and when he’s not teaching or presenting, he plays with Tango del Cielo, Alejandro Fleites, Touché, and Saloma de Panamá. Tony has performed and recorded in various genres, mainly on congas, bongó, cajon, darbuka, frame drums/tambourines, and various rattles. “I focus on Mediterranean and Afro-Latin music,” he says, and expresses a particular interest in the historic intersections of Spain, Italy, and North Africa.
“Over the past six years, my work has focused on the
power of music to connect diverse communities. We each carry slivers of past
collaborations and collisions of race, economics, culture, and systems of
belief. How better to connect with each other than to play and listen to each
other’s musical stories?”