Ty is a talented artist originally from Oklahoma. Before performing, Ty taught in the inner cities of Los Angeles where he used music to transform his classroom. He will be one of the featured performers during the SOUNDS of the Underground Fall Charity Concert. Learn about Ty and his musical journey, his time in the classroom, and his real name!
Featured Artist: TY
-Tell us about your musical journey.
I started music as a kid. I was always drawn to music. I sang for fun at an early age. I told my mom that I wanted to take music more seriously and she put me in talent shows. In middle school I joined band and played the trombone. I also joined choir and fell in love with the vocal side of music. I was shy about my music ability in high school and college. I had a fear and questioned if I was ever good enough. Through my adult years, music kept coming back into my life. I always wrote poems but never really wrote songs. When I spent some time in Korea, I kept writing songs since I had a lot of free time. That is when I realized that I really loved this. Now I am accepting the challenge to really see where music can take me.
-Tell us about your journey in the classroom.
I was always told that I would be a teacher when I was young. In college, I tutored in Upward Bound. I really changed my life since I enjoyed it so much. It made me want to teach but as a junior, I felt like it was too late to change my major. Out of nowhere I received an e-mail from a Teach For America recruiter. I was immediately sold on what they told me about the program and wanted to know how to sign up. After being accepted, I moved from Oklahoma to Compton, California to teach in a Title 1 school district. I was in love with teaching. There were definite ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade it in. I went to Korea to teach in a private school. It was great, but I wanted to come back to America to teach students from the same neighborhoods that I grew up.
-What is something that not many people know about you?
Most people don’t know my first name. It’s Elijah. Ty is my middle name. It was a name that stuck with me from elementary school since I always preferred it.
-What classroom skills help you on the stage?
In the classroom I moved around a lot. I was very mobile. I remember times when I had three different grade levels in one classroom. Beyond moving to check on students, moving also keeps your classroom engaged. When I sing, I move around the stage a lot. I move around to reach every audience member. I’m always checking the audience to see whose experience I can enhance.
-What performance skills helped you in the classroom?
I have naturally been a performer. I’m very animated and outgoing. I designed my classroom to feel like a show. I incorporated music within the lessons. I would sing certain parts of my lesson just to engage the students. I really feel that everyone loves music, so I presented the material in a way that they appreciated it.
-Why is music education important for children?
It’s very important because music is something that is universal. It brings people together, people use it to express themselves, people use it to connect. In a classroom you can connect so many things just through music whether it be teacher to student or student to student. It also brings out passion and creativity within students.
-What do you think about the current state of music education?
To keep it simple; there needs to be more of it. In the places that I have taught (Los Angeles and Phoenix) the lower income neighborhoods have very little opportunities for music education. It’s almost non-existent in certain places, which is unfortunate. It gets cut because it’s not a “corps subject”. I’m glad that there are people fighting for the arts though.
-Why are programs like SOUNDS Academy important?
They build on the skills and strengths of students that they may not have the chance to express in another setting. They give the space for creativity, which is squashed and killed in other subjects. They allow students to come into themselves and find themselves through their art and passion.
-What song are you looking forward to performing on the 9th?
I’ve been practicing for some time and there is a song that I recently wrote called “For You”. I really really really like this song because it can be interpreted in multiple ways. On the surface it sounds like a love song. It sounds like I am enduring all of this for someone that I love. However the actual motivation behind it is built around me singing to my dreams and aspirations. I am enduring all of the pains, struggles, doubters, etc. to see my dreams come true. It’s so personal and speaks to the journey that I am on. The other one would be “Already Gone” because that is the first song that I wrote that really shocked people and showed them my talent. It was the first song that I made a music video for.
-Between the characteristics of creativity, leadership, perseverance, resilience, and teamwork; which speaks the most about your journey so far?
I would say perseverance. Before moving back to Los Angeles I had a lot of stuff set up and ready to go. During the first week I wrote a full album. Then all of a sudden some things started to fade. But I keep going and fighting through it. I do use creativity to keep going though. However it’s all about perseverance. You have to get up everyday and fight for your dreams, even when it seems like all odds are against you.
“It’s about perseverance. You have to get up everyday and fight for your dreams, even when it seems like all odds are against you.”