"I will not imagine a life without music because there will always be music in my life even if it lives in my memory."
My parents were music lovers. I can remember having music in my life from about the age of four. They listened to all kinds of music. I got attracted to music with the idea of performing when I was about six. I was about nine or ten when I became really serious about music.
I began to want musical instruments for Christmas. A guitar was the first instrument that was given to me for Christmas along with a Hohner melodica (mouth piano). The following year I got a three-octave organ with left hand buttons.
I was probably about six or seven when I got a set of drums, but I used to play other drums, hand drums and things like that. I built a xylophone when I was 14, but I started playing mallet instruments when I was about nine or ten.
When I was eight, I started getting private lessons on the drum set in a private music academy. I studied classical music and music theory. I started in the Elila Mena Preparatory Music School at the age of ten. I was in the Conservatory prep for six years. After graduating high school at 16, I entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Mķsica in the Dominican Republic to study music and the Universidad Autůnoma de Santo Domingo (National University of Santo Domingo) to study Chemical Engineering. Chemical engineering was, at the time, attractive to me, but I never worked as a chemical engineer except as an intern.
The four-year music degree at the Conservatory was then designed as a teaching degree in music. If you wanted to be a soloist performer, you had to go on for another two years, which I did, to get a performance degree. When I graduated from the Conservatory of Music, it was with a Masterís degree.
Twenty days before I graduated, I got a job playing with the National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic after being auditioned by then Principal conductor, Maestro Carlos Piantini, at the request of my teacher, Maestro Luis Elsevyff. During this time I also worked as a recording musician, as a plant musician for a couple of TV and Radio stations and freelanced, performing extensively in the night club arena.
After I got my first teaching job at the Santiago Cultural Center for the Performing Arts, teaching became a passion, and I came to understand that when you teach you learn twice. That has always been my motto. Teaching is definitely a great aid in keeping the information and knowledge that one has acquired fresh. It pushes you to remain current. Over the years I have taught in many corners of the world and continue to do it faithfully in the USA today. When any of my present or former students reaches success, it is also my success. The joy of their accomplishments is also my joy.
I am happiest when I am performing because I consider myself to be a performer. To be able to share my ability to make music with people who are listening is definitely pretty joyful. Performing is something that you pretty much depend primarily on yourself. When you teach, you pass the information, and the student is responsible of what to do with it. When I am performing, it is about what I am doing. It is more personal. It definitely brings me great personal satisfaction.
I will not imagine a life without music because there will always be music in my life even if it lives in my memory. If something happens to me, and I canít play, I will still listen. I canít hear, Iíll still have the inner-music. There have been musicians who have been able to make music without hearing it. They have been able to hear it internally. An example is Beethoven who knew what music sounded like and, in the last part of his life, he only heard it internally although he couldnít physically. Evelyn Glennie from Scotland became the first career solo percussionist after becoming totally deaf. She had a condition that caused her ear drums to degenerate and she lost her hearing totally at the age of eight, but she still made music.
I am constantly looking for ways to improve the art of performing and teaching. I am very sure there is not going to be a limit to where I can go. I can get up in the morning knowing that I can always move forward. I want to reach a level in the art of playing percussion where I can feel pretty comfortable with just about every area within percussion since it is the largest musical family of instruments. I would like to possess, at some point in my life, a mastery of as many percussion instruments from around the world as possible.
I have a special love for sharing music and rhythm. Rhythm is something that exists without music, but music gives it voice. Day and night have rhythm, but you donít hear it. It can be a source of inspiration. The way the earth rotates around the sun has a rhythm, and yet you donít hear it. These are the rhythms that inspired Holst to compose The Planets. Life occurs in rhythm. To me rhythm and life go together, and I know it when I notice my heart beating steadily.
I have thought of the people that I admire, who have dedicated their lives to what I do, to be rhythm messengers. I would certainly like to be remembered the way I remember them.
The song may end. But the pulse lives forever....
Thatís my story, and Iím sticking to it!!... Miguel