What started as occasional coaching in school music outreach programs from 2000-2006, turned into the 'Latin American Music Project' with two all-age ensembles: a Mariachi and an Afro-Cuban Ensemble (ACE). In 2010, the LAMP became the 'City Heights Music School' as more instruments and levels were required to meet the demand for music education in City Heights. In 2016, CHMS was adopted by the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and continues to flourish under the direction of Victoria Eicher.
I grew up in Minneapolis and studied at MacPhail Center for the Arts, starting at the early age of 3 in its Musical Trolley program and continuing to the age of 14 as a student of Suzuki Violin. With three siblings also enrolled at MacPhail, I spent a lot of time in its huge lobby area surrounded by musicians and dancers coming and going to class, and in the upper floor hallways outside of the studios of private lesson teachers. My mother, a small-town girl from northern Minnesota, played piano and always loved the violin. So there I was, at the age of 4, with a chopstick for a bow and a ruler taped to a tissue box for a violin! That’s how it all began...
Violin, Piano, City Strings, Mariachi Victoria
Victoria Eicher grew up in Minneapolis and began playing violin at the age of 4 in the Suzuki program at MacPhail Center for the Arts. She has performed with the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, Orquestra de Baja California, Mariachi Champaña Nevin, Caprice Strings, and in chamber ensemble programs throughout San Diego.
In 2010, Ms. Victoria founded the City Heights Music School and opened her home studio for private lessons in violin and piano.
Voice, Piano, Ukulele and Music123
Lorelei Isidro-Garner joins the artistic leadership team as a visionary in vocal arts and teacher training. Lorelei studied Voice Performance at SDSU and has taught music enrichment programs for over 20 years. She is the Choir Teacher at Mission Bay High and a private instructor for voice, piano, and ukulele. Lorelei is the composer and creator of the “ZipZapZoogle Music Enrichment Program”.Click on her picture for a short video!
John Academia holds a Master's degree in Music Theory and Composition from SDSU. He is a Music Teacher in the Sweetwater Union High School District and a Piano Teacher at Southwestern Community College. We are excited to have John join our artistic staff for group piano and private piano lessons!
Chris Amaro holds a B.A. in Music from CSU Long Beach. He is the Percussion Coach for the Community Youth Orchestra of Southern California, a Teaching Artist for Harmony Project; Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), and a Drumline Club Leader for South East High School. As a music education major at SDSU, he currently assists in the music program at Wilson Middle in City Heights.
Natalie Diaz began learning ballet folklorico at a summer program. She enjoyed dancing folklorico so much, she introduced it to M.E.C.H.A, a club. They performed both in and out of school, at weddings and award ceremonies. At CHMS, Ms. Diaz is excited to pursue her passion and share her culture with others.
Derek Jeppsen joins our piano faculty with a background as a music teacher, musicologist, and electronic musician. He has decades of experience with piano and electronic instruments, and teaches music history at San Diego State University. As a musicologist, his fields of research and performance have included artificial intelligence in music, electronic dance music, and gamelan music. An electronic musician called voidesque, click here for a sample of his work.
Jazz and Pop Piano, Music Therapy, Ukulele
Hannah Lentz has played jazz piano for 10 years and discovered how to arrange her favorite Disney songs on piano as a kid. She now shares her joy by teaching jazz, pop, arrangement, and composition. With a degree in Music Therapy from Colorado State University, Hannah has experience teaching adaptive lessons to people with a variety of needs - autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, learning disabilities and traumatic brain injury.
Piano and Music123
Amanda began her piano training at age 5 with concert pianist Farizat Tchiviroba in Tijuana, Baja California. She holds a Bachelor's in Piano Performance from SDSU. She has twice earned first prize for her Bienal Estatal de Piano performances in Mexicali, Baja California. Active as a recitalist, chamber member, and teacher in Chula Vista, she has also studied the Alexander Technique and received her Suzuki Method certification.
Music123 - World Music
Analia is a classical and Afro-Latin vocalist based in Carlsbad, California. As a researcher, she is interested in mariachi music direction and education, Afro-Cuban vocal styles in the 1930’s and Afro-Peruvian jazz music of the 1970’s. Her M.M. is in Afro-Latin from Cal State LA. She is also co-founder of Mariachi Mar y Sol and was a Spanish and Music educator for the Montessori Charter Schools of Flagstaff Arizona.
Juan began his Latin percussion studies at SDSU under the direction of Mark Lamson. In 2004, he founded the longest running Afro-Cuban Drumming program in San Diego at the World Beat Cultural Center. In 2006, Sanchez travelled to Cuba where he was formally introduced to Afro-Cuban music with Pepito Fernandez, a local rumbero from the Calljon de Jamel. Juan returned to work with various high and middle school drumlines in the South Bay.
Alejandro Tapia holds a Master's degree in Education with an emphasis in Social Emotional learning and is proficient on several instruments including strings, percussion, brass, woodwinds, piano, voice, and classical guitar. He performed with ‘Jarabe Mexicano’ and toured throughout the U.S. and internationally. Mr. Tapia currently teaches music at Bonita Vista Middle School and serves as the SDUSD VAPA teacher for Mariachi at Wilson Middle, Clark Middle, and Hoover High schools.
Diana Welch is currently studying at San Diego State University for her B.M. in Music Education and is also studying viola under the guidance of Travis Maril. She began playing the violin at 11 years old and picked up the viola in high school. She has performed with the San Diego City Ballet, La Jolla Symphony, and the Pacific Lyric Association Youth Symphony. She also works for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra as their part-time librarian.
Music123 - Sing! and Special Needs Music
Auburn Williams is a Special Education Paraprofessional Educator who brings the joy and structure of music to special ed classrooms through our Music123 program. An ad hoc children’s teacher, children’s music leader, choir member, choir accompanist, and church organist, Auburn has also served in leadership roles for youth and women’s organizations.
Marilyn Lopez-Eguia - Program Development Director
Erika Monroe - Administrative Assistant
Elena Castillo - Manager, Mariachi Victoria
Marleen Gaxiola - Graphic Designer