Nicholas Hernandez, Instrumental Music Student, East Bakersfield High School 

In the early Spring of 2015 I landed in London, England, anticipating the next eleven days I would spend touring the United Kingdom with the Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra. The journey was one of length, seemingly an eternity of preparation; it took four years, three teachers, two schools, and one inspired student. 

When Mr. Geoffrey Ruud handed me a double bass on the first day of junior high, I assumed not that I would study with the finest musicians in America, or travel the world performing in a youth orchestra. The year was 2011, and I was in orchestra because woodshop was the alternative. I was compliant, however – eager, almost – to learn the ins-and-outs of the giant mass of wood. I adored Yo-Yo Ma’s rendition of The Swan, and that was enough to fuel my earliest creative practices. Mr. Ruud noticed I approached the bass curiously, not quite accepting the instrument as it was. So he encouraged me to audition for the Bakersfield Youth Symphony that summer, despite my lack of sufficient experience. I have since served as the principle double bassist. 

The following year, Mr. Ruud transferred schools, and Mr. Kyle Dooley was his replacement. Among my first memories of Mr. Dooley is the day he told me that Mr. Ruud had kept an eye out for me. Mr. Ruud told Mr. Dooley I had potential, and to help me where he could. Mr. Dooley recommended that I audition for the junior high All-State Orchestra, but he had to explain to me multiple times what it was, and even after I did not understand. I did not understand until I was accepted. 2013 was the year that changed my life; I collaborated with the best musicians in California, and I realized that in an orchestral setting I had found a sense of belonging. Because of Mr. Dooley, I auditioned in high school and was accepted again in both 2014 and 2015. 

Entering high school, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had begun practicing 2-3 hours a day, motivated to explore the world of music and hone my technical and musical skills for the 4 days out of the year that I spent at All-State. My new orchestra director, Ms. Regina Montaño, saw my passion for the instrument. Because of my mom’s new job, I was walking my double bass to school every morning and walking it home every afternoon – I refused to give it up even when I was faced with no automobile transportation. Generously, Ms. Montaño and Principal Vasquez sat down with me and discussed the issue of transportation, and they soon purchased a second instrument to eliminate the daily walking of the beast. The high school administration and staff have provided an invaluable amount of support in the past three years. The choir accompanist serves as my accompanist for auditions, the multimedia teacher records my auditions, the administration provided the wonderful instrument I now play, and Ms. Montaño helps me find new opportunity. We have begun discussing college auditions and, in July of 2015, she helped arrange a special lesson in which I received instruction from the co-principal double bassist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Christopher Hanulik. 

In the past 5 years it has been my music teachers that influenced me the most, and encouraged me to practice and develop a strong work ethic to balance my studies with my music. I dedicated myself to the art, so much, that in March of 2015 I played as a substitute in the Bakersfield Symphony with the Bakersfield Master Chorale in a performance of Mozart’s Requiem. I have toured Europe with a youth orchestra, and I have met the co-principal bassist of the LA Phil. And I cannot begin to imagine where I would be, or what my life would be like, had I not been blessed with such dedicated, amazing teachers. 

Date:  Friday, November 6, 2015

Location:  Paley Center for Media,465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA  90210

Time:  1:00 – 4:00 p.m.


State Senator Ben Allen, Chair, and Assemblymember Ian Calderon, Vice Chair, will be holding an Oversight Hearing of the Joint Committee on the Arts in November to address Arts Education Code Compliance in the visual and performing arts.  CMEA President Michael Stone, along with the leaders of the other three professional arts educator associations in California, will participate in a panel discussion on the issue.  The Hearing is open to the public and there will be the opportunity for members of the public to provide comments at the proceedings.


More information will be posted soon at: .  The hearing will be streamed for those who cannot attend in person.  For further information and to RSVP, please contact Lauren Pizer Mains at: or call (310) 318-6994.


Legislative Flyer

Dear CMEA Member:

I am excited to announce the launch of a new CMEA advocacy campaign called Legally Authorized to Jam!

Legally Authorized to Jam was made to inform you and your community that music education is required, by law in California public schools for Grades 1-6 and required to be offered to students in Grades 7-12. Education Code Sections 51210(e) and 51220(g), respectively, provide these legal requirements for all California schools districts to provide music and arts education.

The Legally Authorized to Jam campaign provides California music educators and citizens  infographics (example to the right) to show at school board meetings, holding local governing boards accountable with the law. 

How do you know if your school and district comply with the law? 

School Districts may apply for a waiver of requirements pertaining to the education code, but only if a public hearing is held prior to application for such a waiver.  Longtime music education advocate and CMEA Member Carl Schafer indicates that no such waivers for music education have been filed in recent years. 

What are music education leaders doing next to enforce arts education compliance?

Leaders of CMEA, CAEA (California Art Education Association), CDEA (California Dance Educators Association), CETA (California Educational Theatre Association) will be participating in a panel discussion at an Informational Hearing on Education Code Compliance as it pertains to arts education in California on November 6, 2015.  This hearing will be sponsored by the Joint Committee on the Arts, chaired by State Senator Ben Allen .  CMEA will post more information about the hearing on its Facebook Page soon. 

Things you can do: 

  • Use the Tools. Go to website to view the infographic and slideshow presentation.
  • Talk to an Expert. Email Carl Schafer, CMEA Member and advocate on the Education Code Compliance.  Contact Carl at:
  • Stay tuned! Our next phase will be to make a video, but we’ll need your help. Check the Legally Authorized page on the StandUp4Music website for future directions.

Music education benefits all aspects of life and career. Let’s inform the public that in California, your kid is entitled to learn, play, and sing music at school!

We want to see all California students jamming in compliance with the Ed Code!  Let’s do it! 



Michael D. Stone, President
California Music Educators Association (CMEA)



Leaders of the 4 ArtsEd. Organization Coalition (CAEA, CDEA, CETA, and CMEA) have responded to Superintendent Torlakson that no statewide assessment in the arts should be created in California until current visual and performing arts standards are updated and adopted by the State Board of Education.  Creating a new assessment system for arts education must wait until our Standards are updated.

CMEA encourages its members to take the short California Assessments of Student Performance and Progress Visual and Performing Arts Stakeholder Survey: .  Share your voice in the conversation!

Michael D. Stone
California Music Educators Association


View CMEA's Letter to Tom Torlakson-Torlakson Letter
View CAASP information letter CAASP Letter