2024 Elementary Excellence Award Recipient

Sonido from Roan Forest Elementary School

San Antonio, TX


At Roan Forest elementary we take pride in making positive connections with all of our students using music as our vehicle. From Pre-K through 5th grade we are creating a community of young musicians that have a love of creating music. In the classroom we are making moves. After school we are moving mountains. Our Percussion Ensemble “Sonido” is working at a very high level. They are creating performance opportunities for other programs. They are being ambassadors for elementary music through our social media presence. They are also serving in a high capacity in the San Antonio Area.


The program that I am hoping to highlight in this submission is our Percussion Ensemble “Sonido”. The objectives of Sonido have always been:

  • To provide the students of Roan Forest elementary a high level, high energy musical experience
  • To share our love of music within our community and the San Antonio area
  • To create a legacy of leaders through our ensemble

Target Audience

The target audience of my creation of Sonido was the students of Roan Forest. This was created as a group that would provide our student community an amazing ensemble to be proud of.


Sonido was established at my first year at Roan Forest. The students had not spent much time on xylophones prior to my arrival at the school. We came from humble origins, we truly had no idea how far this group would take our program.

Here are a few highlights of our program:

2015 – Sonido was established
2017 – Sonido selected to perform at the Opening Ceremonies of the AOSA National Conference
2020 – Sonido TMEA Centennial Convention “Elementary Invited Ensemble”
2020 – Performers for TASA (The Texas Association of School Administrators) Virtual Conference
2020 – Sonido performed for STOMP Traveling Cast
2021 – Virtual Collaboration with 9-time GRAMMY Nominated and 2-time GRAMMY Winning Saxophonist, Eric Marienthal
2021 – Virtual Collaboration with singer Daniel Robledo
2021 – Virtual Collaboration with Marimba Band in Dunedin, New Zealand (St. Clair School)
2022 – TMEA Convention Clinician: Clinic Title “Level Up, Taking Your Percussion Group to the Next Level” with Sonido as Demo Group
2022 – Virtual Collaboration with accomplished Jazz Vocalist Jane Monheit
2023 – Sonido TMEA Convention “Elementary Invited Ensemble”

Overview of Planning and Execution

My first year at Roan Forest I had a half time teaching partner by the name of Amanda Schmidt. She was very supportive of this ensemble and helped us get off the ground. We worked together for two years. The following year I was the only music teacher at the school, servicing our nearly 900 students, and Sonido and choir. The following year I had a half time teaching partner named Jennifer Kalanquin. She was very helpful in rehearsals and performances. The following year I had a teaching partner named Evan Moore. He was such a fun teaching partner. We had such an amazing time preparing for TMEA and getting started with our Virtual Sonido ensemble. Since then I have had Danielle Ortiz as a full time teaching partner for going on 4 years. She helps run all rehearsals, she helps with planning, and she even made a custom arrangement for us in 2021. I have also had several student teachers through the years that have each contributed to the success of the program.

Tools and Resources

We are a percussion ensemble and we play exclusively on Peripole xylophones. We also have an amazing drumset and a keyboard that we use. I write all of our arrangements at this point. I record learning videos, provide sheet music and offer hours of extra practice time as an option to help the students feel success.

Marketing and Promotion

We have used social media platforms to market through the years. This group has a following on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, but most impactful has been our presence on TikTok. Our online presence has helped us get seen by music teachers and fans around the world. We want other people to have this. We want teachers to not be afraid to push their students to perform at high levels. We are here to support others. Our students have on many occasions sent shout out videos to directors and programs around the globe to help inspire. This group is so much fun!


We have built an instrumentarium of 20+ Peripole Orff xylophones including:
8 Soprano Xylophones $699 each
8 Alto Xylophones $936 each
6 Bass Xylophones $1,995 each


When we were selected to perform at AOSA, our district leadership did not approve our trip to Fort Worth. We had to decline the performance opportunity. It was heartbreaking. This was also shortly after my sons passing, so I was totally defeated. My takeaway was that we were going to try and perform EVERYWHERE in San Antonio. So, we have performed at all of the big venues in San Antonio. We have really gotten out into the community to provide the students the opportunity to perform for new audiences all around town.

Success/Effectiveness Measurement

I feel that the creation of Sonido has been effective in so many ways. Here are a few examples: Every year for the past 9 years we have serviced from 20-46 students performers. Out of those, several have been siblings. We have had up to 3 children from one family participate in this group through the years. We have performed once our first year to up to 25 times in a single school year. Every time we have performed in a new venue or for a new organization we have been asked back. Our social media reach has seen over a million views combined on TikTok. The student interest in our group has multiplied over the years. Students that participate in this group feel connected to its rich history and success. They are proud to be a part of the group.

Community Impact

Sonido has done so many things. One of my favorite ways that we have benefitted our school district is that we have created an NEISD Elementary Percussion Jam. We have been able to provide a performance opportunity for several schools from around the district. We host it at our school and provide the instruments. The other percussion groups arrive to our school for a workshop together, food and we perform for each other. It has been a really positive experience for everyone involved. I have loved planning this event.

For the past several years we have worked in collaboration with The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts and we have provided performances for the San Antonio community. We have been the halftime performers for the San Antonio Area High School All-Star Bowl at the Alamodome. We are representing our school, district, San Antonio and elementary music programs as a whole. We are helping to show the world how cool elementary aged kids making music can be.

Advice for others?

Be positive! The whole point is to create an opportunity for students to love making music. We are not in the business of robbing them of the joy of making music. Give the students opportunities to be successful. Be patient, easy to work with and dream big. Try to be relevant to the kids. Let’s Go!