African American Studies
David Fernandez is a part-time music teacher for the WHEDco music school. Additionally, he has also worked as a professional musician and as crisis para-professional in the New York City Public School system. Mr. Fernandez believes that the traditional manner of teaching students music theory is not always the best one; instead, he teaches them in a manner that permits them to actively learn the concept at hand.
Mr. Fernandez was born in Brooklyn, but moved to Youngstown, Ohio, during his childhood. He was musically exposed in his household, as his father was a backup performer to several major artists and his mother was a singer herself. After graduating from Youngstown State University, Mr. Fernandez moved to Puerto Rico for four years, and the moved briefly to Saint Croix (from where he moved again to New York). After returning to the United States, Mr. Fernandez took a job in the New York City school system. Although his job officially entailed dealing with children in need, some teachers also gave him permission to teach music lessons to their classes. However, Mr. Fernandez was laid off from his teaching position by the then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
After losing his job as a teacher, Mr. Fernandez went to work for WHEDCo, a Bronx After-School Organization. He now teachers percussion and music theory to children for periods of up to two years per child. Mr. Fernandez favors a teaching style in which students are taught to move their hands up and down the keyboard in order to produce chords, rather than being the names of chords through rote memorization. He believes that this approach is more fun for students, and that the rote approaches favored by prestigious music schools like the Juillard Academy. Mr. Fernandez further believes that it is necessary to teach the approaches of famous music schools because of the lack of music classes in public school.
Overall, David Fernandez believes that there is still fun in teaching the tradition music ways to Western students. In this manner, Mr. Fernandez aims to instill a fascination for the arts in his younger students. In so doing, Mr. Fernandez ensures that future generations of Americans would be able to enjoy the benefits of great arts.
Fernandez, David. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. Digital Archive at Fordham University.