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“Pass It On!” Pursuing a Career in Music Education

TPMS alum and Music Education student Marco Villela

Rita Simo founded Uptown Academy in 1976 with the guiding principle,“Music is a gift. Pass it on!” To share the gift of music with others is one of the most rewarding parts of being a musician–a part that People’s alum Marco Villela has truly taken to heart. 

After graduating high school in 2021, Marco began his studies of Music Education at DePaul’s School of Music with a concentration in Jazz Trumpet. His musical talents and experiences span far and wide. At People’s, Marco played Alto and Tenor Saxophone. Over the years, he has learned to play ten instruments, with guitar, piano, and trumpet being his primary instruments. He has traveled the continent with a mariachi group, worked alongside legendary mariachi composer Rigoberto Alfaro, and played at the White House with Camila Cabello.

Marco realized he wanted to pursue a career in music education when reflecting on his love for music and desire to pass it on. He says studying to become a music educator “was a pathway to continue learning new instruments as well as being able to share the knowledge with students.” His first year has already been a rewarding experience. “Learning to teach efficiently and the different ways to approach and troubleshoot situations have been the most inspiring and motivating subjects in the curriculum. 

“I owe a lot to the educators that have led me down a good path after years and years of being self-taught in most cases,” Marco says. He continuously looks back at his time at People’s as one of his biggest inspirations and influences. “All the classes that I took while at TPMS gave me insight into the many ways music is taught, especially in a K-12 setting. The day I become an actual educator, I will apply all the teachings and formulate my own style that is both fun and extremely effective.”

Marco Villela and TPMS Senior Program Manager David Sands reunite in Sands’ Strings Fundamentals class at DePaul University.

As for students who are interested in studying to become a music educator, Marco recommends following that instinct. “Music education is one of the most underrated musical careers in the world.” For him, it is powerful to be able to “guide others down a prosperous path in music” while also having “fluency in many instruments.” After all, “What would happen to all the beautiful things music has to offer with no one to teach it?  Where would we be without educators?”

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