Porfirio Diaz III
Graduate, Master of Music With a Concentration in Conducting
Porfirio Diaz III was born and raised in El Paso. In 2010, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Music with a minor in Education from UTEP. After graduation, he taught elementary music in El Paso ISD (2010-2013) and was also a part-time band director at El Dorado High School (2013-2017).
Porfirio is now in his eleventh year as a music teacher; since 2013, he has been a middle school band director at Jane A. Hambric School. He has a full, busy home life as well: he and his wife, whom he met in high school band and who is an El Paso ISD elementary school teacher, have two young boys.
The convenient format of UTEP's Master of Music with a concentration in Conducting program helped him make the leap to getting a master's degree: something he had thought about for several years but never moved forward with.
Porfirio graduated with his master's degree in May 2021.
Why he enrolled in the program:
For years I had debated starting a master's [degree] but never found a reason to This new program stood out to me as it was geared towards current music educators. At first, I was hesitant because of my duties as a husband, father and teacher. However, one of the professors assured me this program would challenge me but not remove me from my life. I was able to connect with others during intensive in-person summer sessions, as well as [work at my own pace] online during the fall and spring. The curriculum was geared towards my everyday duties as an educator but also opened new doors for me as a music conductor.
His experience with online learning:
I attempted online classes at another university back in 2010, but it never worked out. However, my experience with UTEP Connect was immediately smooth and easily accessible, especially with the professors being extremely prepared, diligent and easily adaptable to the technology.
Access to the UTEP Library online and Blackboard for classes was very smooth and user-friendly for all students. With this degree, I found the online aspect to be very useful and the necessary in-person components to be very flexible. Even when the pandemic started in 2020, we found a way to make great use of being online when our in-person classes were supposed to begin. Nothing was out of reach and deadlines were reasonable. I hoped to finish in two years and met my goal with no issues.
On how this degree has helped him in his job:
It had an immediate impact as I geared much of my preparation to teaching students based on my newly acquired knowledge. For example, I used to pick music for my students based on the "popular” stuff online. Now I base my selections on historical context, instrumentation and orchestration we learned about in our music literature and theory classes. Also, I used to hurt my shoulder a lot when conducting. The professors fixed my problem rather quickly after our summer conducting symposium and I have had no shoulder pain when conducting music since I started the program in 2019.
On the support he received as a student:
I was blessed to have support from all parties involved. My wife and kids, my parents, friends, colleagues and the professors. It is important to understand that the professors are people just like us. The mutual respect between the students and educators was amazing.
What he would say to prospective online students:
[This degree] is for people from all walks of life. Whether you are single, married, have kids, have no kids, live in El Paso, live out of town/state, have been teaching music for many years, have been teaching little to no teaching experience, plan on attaining a doctoral program, do not plan on a doctorate program, etc….this program is for you.
On whether he would enroll in this program again if he had to do things over:
Definitely! I learned so much from the program and it opened up a new realm of knowledge I never knew I had. As one professor put it: “You walk away from your bachelor’s thinking you know it all, then achieve a master’s and question everything.” This is what makes us progress as musicians.