7 Questions with Oliver Diez

Palmetto Elementary Music Teacher

How did your musical career get started?
I learned right away that I enjoyed the stage very much, be it performing with a group, dancing or acting. I began playing the saxophone in seventh grade and continued all through high school in the marching, symphonic and jazz bands. By my senior year, I knew I wanted to pursue a musical career, but it was my mother who encouraged me to major in music education.

The Palmetto Elementary Jazz Band is famous locally. How did that start and how do you get elementary students to play at a high level? In my interview, I told the principal that my goal was to begin a band program. It took two years. By 2001, I had my first band rehearsal and 30 students showed up with instruments. Our jazz combo was formed in 2003 with the best horn players, which at the time were three great musicians. Over the last 12 years, our students have been judged at the Music USA Festival and understand what is expected to become a Superior concert band.

What is your favorite personal performance and why? Back in the late ’90s, I was part of a Latin rock band called Don Pepe. The biggest concert I remember was at Bayfront Park, where we opened up for Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. We had made a name for ourselves before this, but this concert took us to a whole new level. It was an amazing experience receiving the ovation we got that evening.

What are some of the favorite moments of your life, outside of work and music? The time I have for my family is extremely special and needed. Whether it is a day at the park with my boys, visiting abuela and abuelo, eating out at a restaurant or simply cuddling on the couch with my wife and kids watching TV, I cherish these special moments. I make it a goal to always find time for my family. It is the balance of my life and what keeps my life stable.

What legacy would you like to leave at Palmetto Elementary School when you retire? My legacy does not just include Palmetto Elementary, but elementary schools throughout Florida, and that is to encourage other elementary directors to begin band programs at their schools. As far as the band program at Palmetto Elementary School? I hope to make it as big as any middle school program in our county.

What is something that no one knows about you? I met my wife at Palmetto Elementary when she used to drop off her younger sister. We met in 2001, began dating, and got married five years later. We now have two wonderful boys, ages 8 and 5, who are both students at Palmetto Elementary. Meeting my future wife is the main reason I know I was destined to work here.

What is your favorite thing about teaching in Pinecrest? I cannot think of a better place to work. The amount of support I have received in my 17 years of teaching has been amazing. The success during my career is not just due to my students’ talent, but also due to the support our parents and the community have given me. Our administration and teachers have always shown tremendous support. I was blessed on April 19, 1999, when I walked into Palmetto Elementary as a rookie music teacher, never to know the success working here would give me.

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