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Costa Rican music educator brings advice to USD students

On Feb. 4, Dr. Esteban Barquero taught a class about conducting via Zoom to music education students. Barquero is from Costa Rica and teaches conducting at the University of Costa Rica and the National University of Costa Rica.  

This class was to teach students how to rehearse a band or orchestra and gave important tips for their future as educators and conductors. Director of orchestras Dr. Luis Viquez said the most essential work a music educator does is conducting ensembles for performances or contests. Viquez said that often conductors will lack important training on how to successfully approach different challenges they will face as an educator like playing in tune, playing in time and balancing the entire ensemble. 

“Many times when we see a conductor, we can see somebody waving their arms. When a conductor is doing that, at the moment of the performance, that’s very ornamental because the actual job of a conductor and of a music educator happens during the rehearsals and happens during the classes,” Viquez said. 

Barquero said they discussed strategies to solve problems and he wanted to share his experience. Over the year, Barquero has improved his conducting skills and wanted to share his tips with students to improve theirs. 

“In music, when we talk about rehearsal, we don’t have a magic list because it depends on the ensemble, it depends on the students, it depends on the moment, even the room,” Barquero said. 

Viquez shares as much information with his classes as he can but hoped students would gain a different perspective from Barquero. Viquez said it was good for his students to see a successful conductor from another country.  

“He can come in and tell us his experience because music education is very different in Latin America than what it is in the United States and perhaps some common issues that a conductor may have here in the US, may be something that he would have addressed before and he may have a successful strategy to fix many different aspects of how to conduct and how to direct an ensemble,” Viquez said. 

When students are learning about conducting, Barquero said they learn a lot when they are pushed onto the podium. However, Barquero said it is really nice when someone gives them guidance on how to solve issues they may come across.  

“During this process they will have another person telling them things that I’m sure they know and it’s always good to hear that it happens,” Barquero said. “So hopefully they will learn new things and they will just reinforce things that they already know.”