Author: THE Musicians Foundation

Musicians Institute Alums Give Back, Inspire Thru Music Education

Trent Durazo (Vocalist/Songwriter), Carlos Aguilar (Guitarist), Kyle Miller (Drummer) are teachers in the LACER Afterschool Program’s Music Program at Hollywood High School

For several years LACER and Musicians Institute have collaborated thru the Federal Work Study program, placing current MI students to teach and mentor in music education and performance classes for Hollywood High School students.  The LACER Afterschool Program at Hollywood High School has also hired several MI students (after they graduated MI) as paid staff members.   

LACER’s Music Students from Hollywood High performing in MI’s Concert Hall in 2015

We wanted to know more about the music programs at Hollywood High School, and how they have changed the lives of both teachers and students, inspiring their creativity, fostering success in music and transforming lives.

We recently sat down with MI alums and LACER staffers: Trent Durazo, Kyle Miller and current MI Work-study student Carlos Aguilar to share their experiences and insights about the unique collaboration. 

Q: What inspires you the most about working, teaching and mentoring at LACER?

Trent Durazo (AA Vocal Performance class of 2011): “The opportunity to help kids find their inner rock star. Watching a student’s confidence grow as they get better at their instrument and performing with a band is very rewarding. The positive impact that the LACER music classes have on the students is awesome and it’s incredible to be a part of it.”

Kyle Miller (AA Drum Performance class of 2012): “LACER has helped groom me in many ways. It’s helped me to look at other points of views in a musical context as well as in life, and to further think outside the box for new ideas for the programs we provide to keep things fresh and exciting for the students.”

Carlos Aguilar (Bachelor of Music Guitar class of 2018): “What inspires me the most about working with LACER is seeing how this program changes the life of so many kids and opens the doors for them to discover their talents. Seeing how the kids are so passionate and willing to learn is amazing knowing that they are doing something that would benefit their future instead of being out in the streets.”

LACER’s Music Students Performing at The Grammy Museum in 2017

Q: Can you talk a bit about how being an educator has impacted you?

Carlos: “I’ve had a life changing experience working for LACER, because this program opens the doors to a passion of mine that I’ve always had.   Thru LACER, I now have the opportunity to work with classrooms full with students and teach them the craft I love (which is music). The students are so dedicated to music it has even inspired me to work harder every day at my own craft.  You have to be very creative to teach some of the students because every student is different and that has made me learn a lot about working with young adults and the difficulties it may bring.”

Kyle: “As an educator, I want to pass the torch to the next great musicians and working with LACER gives me that platform to do so. The students learn from me and I definitely learn from them.”

Trent: “I never planned on being a teacher, I sort of stumbled into this job, but it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It changed my whole outlook on life; helping kids grow as musicians and seeing that translate into their personal growth is very rewarding. Teaching kids of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels has made me a much better musician as well. They are constantly challenging me to learn new songs that I then have to teach them and it’s really a lot of fun.”

Students in LACER’s Rock Band Workshop at LeConte Middle School Rehearsing

How do feel that your LACER/MI experience has changed your life?

Kyle: “The relationship that I’ve been able to be a part of between LACER and Musicians Institute has been like no other, and I’m very proud to have seen it grow over the years. Thank you both to LACER and Musicians Institute. It will be a time in my life that I won’t ever forget.”

Trent: “I am very grateful to be a part of such an amazing organization and I would not have gotten the opportunity to be here if it wasn’t for MI.”

Carlos: “I would like to thank MI for the opportunity of opening this door and letting me accomplish one of my dreams of classroom teaching experience.  Also, I would like to thank my supervisor Program Director Ramiro Segovia and all the staff of LACER for taking me in and showing me how to become a successful instructor.”


The LACER Afterschool Program provides free expanded learning workshops to 4,000 middle and high school students in Los Angeles while preparing students for their future.

The Musicians Foundation supports LACER as a member of the Friends of LACER Multi-Year Giving Circle (donating annually 2017- 2021), as well as having donated music DAW software in 2014, and providing funds for music scholarships to Musicians Institute in 2012 and 2018.


Please visit: and find LACERstars on Twitter and Facebook.



Announcing the Pat Hicks Memorial Founders Scholarship Fund at Musicians Institute

Pat Hicks and his Epiphone

In honor of the tremendous legacy of Musicians Institute’s co-founder Pat Hicks, we have established a new scholarship fund in his memory. Pat helped to inspire and change the lives of countless thousands of musicians the world over.

We’re asking MI alumni, friends and family around the world for their donations (in any amount) to a special scholarship fund that will be awarded to a deserving student at Musicians Institute in Pat’s honor.

Please click here to donate directly, and follow these easy steps:

  • Our non-profit website:

  • Click Donate Now button

  • Please choose amount

  • Choose a program: “Other Scholarship Fund”

  • Is this a gift in honor of, or in memory of someone?  Choose “Yes”…Pat Hicks.

  • Fill out the form with your information, click Donate.

  • Pay via PayPal or credit card.

  • You will receive an instant 100% tax deduction IRS acknowledgement letter.

When the fund reaches $1,000, we will create the first of these scholarships (to be awarded in 2018) and will continue to create others in increments of $1,000.

Please donate today to this special memorial scholarship in honor of Pat Hicks, and share this post!

Watch his recent MI Oral History Video here:

Pat presiding over a 1980’s MI graduation ceremony

Pat Hicks with Musicians Foundation Executive Director, and MI Vice President Beth Marlis



In order to fund our ambitious program of contemporary music college scholarships and programs, we rely on contributions from friends like you.

When you click HERE you will be directed to The Musicians Foundation’s Donation Fund PayPal page.

The Foundation invites you to visit its new website HERE. There you will see a whole new design that’s great to look at and easier to navigate. We’ve added images of our newest members of the board, as well as additional photos of some of the scholarship winners and programs we offer.

Please give today to keep our mission strong in the New Year!

Beth Marlis

Executive Director

Click HERE to donate!

Make your 2017 tax-deductible donation by December 31st!




Today, over 100 LA area high school and middle school students were treated to a very informative and highly entertaining class:  Introduction to Today’s DJ Techniques taught by Musicians Institute’s own DJ Charlie Sputnik at The Grammy Museum.  

World class DJ and master instructor DJ Sputnik (Charles Chemery) is also the Program Chair for MI’s Certificate in DJ Performance and Production and Independent Artist Program and is the resident expert for MI’s online Intro to DJing course.


The Grammy Museum class covered “old school” vinyl DJ techniques, and an in-depth demonstration of creative computer-based DJ techniques using the software Serato.

The Musicians Foundation and Musicians Institute have collaborated for 8 consecutive years of sponsorship and special programming for LAUSD High School music classes at The Grammy Museum.  The classes span contemporary music styles, sampling, beatmaking, film composing, music technology, music business, songwriting, music video creation, Foley techniques and rhythm workshops.  

We are proud to have shared the expertise, diverse knowledge and incredible talents of MI’s faculty with nearly 8,000 high school and middle school students from the greater LA area thru our outreach class program at The Grammy Museum!


Do your Holiday Shopping on Amazon, and they donate to us with one click!

Click this link: GO!

Just click and sign into your Amazon account and shop…it’s just like regular – but much better!!

Amazon will automatically donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to The Musicians Foundation whenever you shop on AmazonSmile (all year long).






Seulgi Chae (lt) with Rachel Yoon, Dean of Performance Studies and Chair of Keyboard Program

The inaugural President’s Award Keyboard Scholarship has been awarded to Musicians Institute Keyboard Program student: Seulgi Chae.  The Busan, South Korea native earned the prestigious award with a strong demonstration of his specialized musical performance and composing skills in the K-Pop genre.

Describing his reasons for coming to MI, Seulgi states, “I think MI is the best college to satisfy my desire because there are various styles of music I can study at MI.”  While at MI, he will focus on “studying various genres such as Jazz, Pop, and Film scoring. I graduated university with a major in classical music composition, and I want to continue to study multiple music genres. Also, I want to learn other instruments such as electric keyboard, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, drums and classical instruments.”

He sees his education as an important key to achieving his career goals of being able to “continue to develop, study, evolve and truly discover my own musical style. I want to continue to compose pop, perform and do orchestration. I want to make people to feel the full range of human emotion thru my music; and I hope that I can cure and open people’s minds with my music. It is my goal.”

Everyone at MI would like to congratulate Seulgi on winning this prestigious award.

Special thanks to MI’s longtime owner Histake Shibuya for generously sponsoring this scholarship, which helps to provide talented students like Seulgi with the support, tools and recognition they need to launch successful and creative careers in the music industry.


Yuan Fang (lt) with Vocal Program Chair Debra Byrd (rt)

The 2017 President’s Award Vocal Scholarship has been awarded to Musicians Institute Vocal Program student: Yuan Fang.  She comes to MI by way of China, having earned the prestigious award with a strong demonstration of her musical skills and specialization in singing ballads.

Describing her reasons for coming to MI, Yuan states, “Because I have heard about this school in China, I’m very excited to study at MI. I know that I can get a great education here.”

She sees her education as an important pathway to achieving her career goals of being able to “perform on the biggest stage, and to win a Grammy award in the future.”

Everyone at MI would like to congratulate Yuan on winning this prestigious award.

Special thanks to MI’s longtime owner Histake Shibuya for generously sponsoring this scholarship, which helps to provide talented students like Yuan with the support, tools and recognition they need to launch successful and creative careers in the music industry.

Fall 2017 President’s Award Bass Scholarship Winner: Isaac Derosa

Bass Program Chair Maurice Verloop (lt) with Isaac Derosa (rt)

The 2017 President’s Award Bass Scholarship has been awarded to Musicians Institute Bass Program student: Isaac Derosa.  The talented Portland, OR bassist earned the prestigious award with a strong demonstration of his diverse musical skills in the rock, metal and jazz genres.

Describing his reasons for coming to MI, Isaac states, “I hope to learn as much as I possibly can! I’m excited to learn how to play new genres, learn new techniques, and just anything MI has to offer. MI has been my end game since I was in 8th grade, and I knew from an early age that I was meant to be a performer. After delving into the school’s history, I learned that a lifelong favorite band of mine: Avenged Sevenfold’s vocalist and guitarist Synyster Gates had graduated from MI. That information helped me to manifest the desire and willpower to push myself to grow as an artist and pursue my dream school.”

He sees his education as an important key to achieving his career goal and dreams of being able to “create, become part of the recording process, and to build a strong foundation with a band in which we can create and perform music that will hold the same power and meaning that drove me to pursue music. I want to be a part of an art that will evoke all emotions and that people can find their own meaning in.”

Everyone at MI would like to congratulate Isaac on winning this prestigious award.

Special thanks to MI’s longtime owner Histake Shibuya for generously sponsoring this scholarship, which helps to provide talented students like Isaac with the support, tools and recognition they need to launch successful and creative careers in the music industry.


Nolan Sloan with Dean of MI Bachelor’s Program Rachel Yoon

Guitarist Nolan Sloan is the winner of the third annual Bachelor of Music in Composition Scholarship at Musicians Institute.  The newly enrolling Bachelor’s Degree in Composition Program (Scoring for Visual Media) student comes to MI by way of Moses Lake, WA., having performed and composed music in the instrumental funk/fusion, acoustic singer/songwriter and rock genres. Nolan has been composing, editing and recording music for the past 6 years.

Upon learning about his award, Nolan explained that he chose to study at MI because “MI is located in the entertainment capital of the world, so opportunities for competent musicians abound (as much as they can for musicians), and all the instructors are experienced musicians, so I know I can trust any advice they would give me.”

During his studies, he plans to focus on “gaining a better ability to create songs, I would like to become better at writing funk and R&B songs.

After MI, Nolan’s career aspirations are to “become a great songwriter, performer, and musician so that I don’t have to do anything other than create and play music to make a living.”  

Everyone at Musicians Institute congratulates Nolan on this achievement, which marks a great beginning to his studies. We look forward to seeing him reach his full potential while at MI.

Special thanks to The Musicians Foundation for generously sponsoring this scholarship, which helps to provide talented students like Nolan with the support, tools and recognition they need to launch successful and creative careers in the music industry.