Director of Bands, Liberty Junior High, in Richardson, TX
Chris Pineda understands the importance of music education in historically underserved student populations. He shares his thoughts on how schools like his can continue to improve their programs and community they serve.
Chris Pineda was the youngest of five kids in an active, athletic family. “All of my siblings were varsity athletes, and in fifth grade I raised my hand when they asked who wanted to join band, and I came home instituted with a tuba,” Pineda said. He was fortunate to have the ability to participate in sports and band all the way through high school which lead him to pursue a career in music.
Pineda was the first person in his family to attend college after receiving a full music scholarship from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX to study tuba performance. During his senior year at SMU, he was accepted to the Cincinnati Conservatory to obtain his Master’s in Performance. To reach the required number of credits to be a full-time student Pineda enrolled in a music education course with Lynn Jackson. Due to the class and teaching private lessons throughout his college career, Pineda realized he enjoyed teaching more than playing. He decided to decline the offer from Cincinnati and stay at SMU for his Master’s in Music Education.
After obtaining his master’s degree, Pineda received the job of Assistant Director at Liberty Junior High in Richardson, TX. During his second year at Liberty Junior High, he was named Head Director. “I was a second-year teacher with a first-year teacher as an assistant, so it was kind of like the blind leading the blind through those first couple of years,” Pineda said, “we worked really hard to develop the positive culture in the band program and in the community.”
Pineda believes the Liberty Junior High band program has become successful due to many factors. One of those factors is the support that has been provided through initiatives like the Dr. William P. Foster Project. Pineda says, “Most schools aren’t getting any richer, and I’m so glad to see there’s a proactive approach and people are joining forces because that’s just utilizing more resources.”
A partnership including The College Band Directors National Association, Music for All, and the National Band Association made the Dr. William P. Foster Project possible. This initiative recognizes quality programs serving historically underserved student populations. The Dr. William P. Foster Project also incorporates a mentor program including many peer consultants who are committed to connecting with individual teachers leading band programs in underserved schools and communities. It also provides music educators with successful teaching materials to reference.
“I find myself fortunate that in my position I did have mentors and guidance, and I had people to reach out to,” Pineda said, “But, there are a lot of teachers out there that might feel they’re on an island and need someone to support them.”
Along with mentors and support, Pineda also has had prior experience walking the halls of a historically disadvantaged populated school. “My parents didn’t have a lot of money, and joining the band program not only opened doors that were closed, it opened up doors that I didn’t know were there,” he said. Pineda is passionate about providing those same opportunities to his students who might be in a similar situation as he was. He had no idea what raising his hand in fifth grade to play the tuba would do for him, but it paid for college and led him to his future career in music education.
Music for All is proud to be a part of the Music Education Alliance, alongside the College Band Directors National Association and the National Band Association. Learn more about the Alliance and its William P. Foster Project at musicedalliance.org.