The Journey of Emiliano Diaz-Graham: From MDYMP to the School of the Arts

Emiliano Diaz-Graham’s music journey began with the violin at Westport Elementary, but after two years, he realized it wasn’t for him. “I didn’t really like the violin that much, and I didn’t like my teacher much either,” he recalls. During his time in this school orchestra, he discovered his true passion: the bass.

Fascinated by its deep, resonant sound, Emiliano switched instruments with his mother’s support and began playing the bass in the orchestra at Hoover Middle School. In the spring of his 6th grade year, his middle school teacher nominated him for the MDYMP scholarship. As part of the scholarship, he attended Campamento CMC, a summer camp that helped him familiarize himself with the music styles covered in MDYMP. This camp, offering a chance to play diverse musical styles including Mexican, Latin American, African Diaspora, and Blues, helped him develop musicianship skills.

The CMC’s role in Emiliano’s development is significant. At the summer camp he learned of CMC’s year round Mission District Young Musicians Program (MDYMP) which offers private lessons on his instrument and a two hour group class focused on Mexican and Afro-Caribbean music. 

With the support of his middle school and through his participation in the Campamento CMC, he received a year-round scholarship to the MDYMP program, in which he has participated for the last two years.

Through the MDYMP, he received musical training and a sense of community. “I think MDYMP has let me play out more because we do a lot more concerts than my other groups,” he explains. The program’s emphasis on performance and practical experience has been invaluable in preparing him for  Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (RASOTA) .

Emilio found private lessons at CMC to be crucial in his musical journey. With the help of Richard Saunders, he was able to select suitable music and was advised to practice every day in order to prepare for the RASOTA audition. These lessons offered focused instruction, refining Emilio’s technique and ensuring he was ready for his RASOTA audition. Emilio remarked, “The private lessons really taught me how to produce louder sounds and improve my hand movements. Though they were only 30 minutes long, they gave me a significant advantage.”

Emiliano’s admission to RASOTA is a testament to his hard work and the comprehensive support he received from CMC. At RASOTA, he will continue to expand his musical horizons, exploring different genres and instruments, including the electric bass. He is excited about the opportunity to play more diverse music and participate in various performances and gigs around San Francisco.

For Emiliano, music is more than just a hobby; it is a passion that shapes his identity and future aspirations. “I think if I do choose two things right now, it would either be going into marine biology or trying to do music professionally. Or both,” he says with a smile.

Emiliano’s journey underscores the importance of access to quality music education and the transformative impact it can have on young people’s lives. His advice to future music students? “Try to get into a group like MDYMP where you can have one-on-one lessons and make sure you practice, maybe not daily, but two or three times a week. It really helps, especially if you have lessons and a supportive community.”

MDYMP has played a crucial role in nurturing Emiliano’s talent, providing him with opportunities to grow as a musician and a person. His story is a powerful reminder of the potential that lies within every young musician and the difference that dedicated support and mentorship can make.