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From No Access to Success

By ETM Marketing and Communications Associate Jennifer Williams

Born in Ecuador, Education Through Music teacher Jorge Quezada did not have access to music education growing up. 

Jorge attended three different schools as a child, and none of them provided music as a core subject. However, Jorge discovered his passion for the arts through painting and dancing, and nurtured those skills as a young child.

It wasn’t until the age of fifteen, when Jorge and his family moved to the United States, that his love of music was ignited

It can be a challenge for any young student moving to a new city, but Jorge wasn’t only moving to a new city, he was moving to a new country, leaving behind friends and family, and also facing a language barrier.  “At first,” Jorge shared, “it was a rough transition because of the language, and because I had left all of my friends and most of my family. However, I was fascinated by the culture of the city and thought it was time to try something new.”

Discovering his new home became exciting for Jorge. Taking the subway was an adventure that led him to new places and helped him meet new people. He connected specifically with the musicians he would meet on his rides.

“It was hard for me to make friends, having to catch up on my academics so quickly, but the musicians I met became my friends. They helped me adjust to my new city. They were so patient with me [as I learned English] and helped me feel integrated.” 

While music was offered at his high school in New York, due to his lack of musical training, Jorge wasn’t accepted into the music program. Undeterred, Jorge began taking lessons at Performing Arts Conservatory of New York (PACONY), a music school in Jackson Heights, Queens, where he developed his passion for classical music and later for teaching. PACONY became a place where Jorge could learn and continue to make music, and eventually he was accepted into CUNY Brooklyn where he majored in Music Performance and Music Education. 

“I wanted to go into music education to help give students an opportunity that I wasn’t given.”

Jorge joined the ETM team in December 2016, and has continued to provide access to his students in the new world of distance learning. 

“I’ve been continuing to connect with students by creating content that will allow them to express themselves musically while giving them an opportunity for creativity. I personally like to create videos where I can be present and direct students, I think it is important that they feel we are always there for them.

ETM Instructional Supervisor Grace Lazos shared, “Jorge shares his voice and enthusiasm with students of all ages. He holds his work to the highest standard, and continually seeks out ways to provide his students with performance opportunities. He collaborates with all of his colleagues, providing support, insight, as well as asking for support and ideas to improve his own practice. He is truly a life-long learner!”Discovering music late didn’t stop Jorge from finding his passion. “Music can represent part of a culture, a language.”