Tocando began in 2013 with 30 students from 1st – 3rd grade enjoying programming at Hart Elementary. In its second year, the program doubled in size to 60 students from 2nd – 4th grade. In 2015, Tocando expanded to include Mission Ridge Elementary School where an additional 25+ students joined with students from Hart to create the two-site program. The two-sites continued through 2017 when efforts were consolidated to concentrate on schools in the feeder pattern of Bowie High School. Expanding to include Guillen Middle School, Tocando began the Feeder School Initiative (FSI) to direct the benefits of music education into a single high school, Bowie. Since that time, the FSI has established all of its classes to the annex at Guillen Middle School and has gained students from Aoy Elementary School, an elementary school in the feeder pattern.
In 2017, Tocando, in collaboration with the University of Texas at El Paso, began UTEP Career Days for its students. Each year on President’s Day, students are transported in field-trip style to the UTEP campus where they enjoy a day of activities and visit an array of museums, performance halls, and college departments such as Engineering, Education, 3D Printing Lab, and Music. Students attend college orchestra and choir rehearsals and audit orchestra and band classes. UTEP Career Days are breaking down barriers and making attending college a part of Tocando students’ future plans.
In 2018, Tocando began a “Bucket Band” class for 2nd grade students who learn rhythms, note reading, instrument care, performance skills, and music making with other musicians. The Bucket Band meets twice a week after school until 5:15. Their introduction to the program creates a foundation for their 3rd grade entrance into the full Tocando program.
In its 6 years of programming, Tocando has reached students with the magic of creating music and learning instruments. Students have the honor of visiting and performing in venues such as the El Paso Museum of Art, Plaza Theater, Chavez Theater, Cafe Mayapan, Botanical Gardens, Armijo Library, and El Segundo Barrio Day. Students also get to enjoy week-long overnight camps such as Arrowbear Summer Music Camp in Running Springs, California; Colorado Mesa University’s Middle School Music Camp in Grand Junction, Colorado; and Hummingbird Music Camp in Jemez Springs, New Mexico (coming in Summer 2019).