One of my favorite places on the Ensworth Campus is the arts building at the high school. It is such a treat just to pop in during classes and see the dancers warming up or the pottery wheels spinning while students mold their next masterpiece. Besides the amazing art and photography displays on the walls there is something so special about stepping into the choir class. I had the pleasure of hearing the wonderful Ensworth Singers hard at work under the direction of our newest music director Elias Salazar. Here is what he had to say about all things music.
I’ve actually been in Nashville since 2009. That’s when I began my studies at Belmont University. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this city. I had never been in a place that is so full of opportunities or where I could meet such creative and talented people. So, after graduation, I decided to stick around and look for somewhere I could use what I’ve learned. I also felt attached to the city since this is where the orchestra I’ve started is. I didn’t feel right looking for jobs away from the Nashville Collegiate Orchestra. I’m glad I decided to stay!
My number one goal is that the students in both the choirs and the orchestra will become literate musicians. I want them to feel confident in their abilities to pick up any piece of music and read it without anyone having to feed them their parts. I also want to get everyone in the community excited about what’s happening here in the arts. The music program is booming, and I think it will continue to grow as more and more people realize how exciting what we do is. I hope to also help our community appreciate some of the truly stunning classical literature that’s out there while providing opportunities for students to do some more modern music as well. I’m commissioning several works for the choirs and the orchestra that will have their world premiers in our theater!
It can be a tough job sometimes to get high school students to “find their voice”, what are some of the tools you use to get students interested in music?
I think that music really speaks for itself most of the time. All I can offer the students in this regard is exposure to different sorts of music and different experiences in music. Once a student hears themselves fitting into a perfectly tuned chord or playing a phrase with emotion they can’t help but get excited about what they’re doing. I think the strongest tool any teacher can use to inspire students is enthusiasm, and I have a LOT of that when it comes to music!
What meal do you most look forward to in the Ensworth cafeteria?
This is a tough one… I really loved chicken wing day!
You’d be surprised. I have one of the most random seeming playlists on my phone. I listen to everything from classic rock, to 20s swing, to gregorian chant, to indie classical, and on and on. I like to inundate my ears with a huge variety of music so that I can truly appreciate where music has been and where it is going. What I listen to also depends completely on my mood. This morning, for example, I was listening to Harry Connick Jr. and Melody Gardot, but in my office I had some Dvorak and Shostakovich playing shortly after.
If you could be a fly on the wall in any Ensworth classroom which one would it be?
I would love to sit in on one of Mr. Lovell’s history classes!
What new faculty member would you like to see featured next?
I think it’d be great to see the wonderful Mary Catherine Bradshaw featured! She’s a renowned teacher, and most of us have heard her name for years followed consistently by her stellar reputation as an educator.