Dedicated is what springs to mind when I think about my conversation with Urbana High School’s Spanish teacher, guitar teacher and orchestra director Hector Ayerdiz. “My job as a teacher—students come in at different levels—is to help them improve their technical knowledge and use this to motivate them, pointing out when a special musical piece or goal has been reached. They can see what it took to get them there. We build on that and help them continue to improve.”
A native of Nicaragua, Ayerdiz has spent most of his life in the US and began music instruction at an early age, taking violin lessons in elementary school and guitar in high school. He began his education career as a Spanish teacher in Frederick County and gradually incorporated music.
Ayerdiz teaches all types of guitar—folk, classical, jazz and electric. Students begin with simple pieces on an acoustic guitar and build to whatever genre they wish. There are certain Frederick County Public School standards in the music curriculum that must be met, but students can focus on personal goals as well. Ayerdiz’s goal is always the same—to inspire and motivate.
“Sometimes they pick a piece that is more difficult, but I don’t tell them—this is the challenge. They see in themselves what they can accomplish without limits.”
The music department at UHS includes performing arts, band, marching band, choir, orchestra, dance and drama. If performing a symphonic piece, the band and orchestra will play together; otherwise they perform separately.
“As a music teacher, you have to understand all the instruments. The greatest thing about being a music teacher is having to get yourself into difficult mindsets musically,” Ayerdiz said.
The orchestra performs in community and school events and also takes outside trips, recently to Williamsburg and Hershey Park, as well as to orchestra festivals. Their schedule includes three big concerts a year, the first coming up on Oct. 23.
Ayerdiz is also a professional musician, mostly on bass—jazz, upright and electric. He has performed gigs around the area with his band, Inner Loop, playing jazz standards and Afro-Cuban jazz rhythms.
The group primarily performs privately at weddings, dinners, festivals and community events. He is also a musical director, which lends itself to his teaching as well as to his performing career.
Ayerdiz is energized by the new school year. “The idea that you can get someone else to feel about music the same way you do is the most motivating factor in teaching. I see in the face of a student the level of accomplishment—that they just did something special—it is a great feeling as a teacher!” he said.
Plan to attend the first concert of the year on Oct. 23, which will include the UHS orchestra, chamber orchestra and the choir program. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in the UHS auditorium.