Friday, May 27 , 2016, 8:48 pm | Fair 59º

Santa Barbara Native Xóchitl Tafoya Returns to Direct iCAN Music Program

By Hillary McCall for iCAN |

The Incredible Children’s Art Network (iCAN) is pleased to announce the promotion of Xóchitl Tafoya to director of the iCAN Music Program.


Xóchitl Tafoya
Xóchitl Tafoya

Tafoya, who recently served as associate director with the program’s founding director, Adam Johnston, will now oversee the after-school program at Franklin Elementary School.

“iCAN is extraordinarily fortunate to have Xóchitl Tafoya in this important position of program leadership,” says Jeffry Walker, executive director at iCAN. “Xóchitl is an exceptional artist and teacher. She is an innovative thinker with an exuberant spirit that embodies the very best that we aspire to at iCAN. It is great to have her with us, especially at this exciting time of growth in our services to the children of Santa Barbara County.”

Tafoya first joined iCAN in 2011 when she served as a teaching artist for the program. Compelled by the clear impact of iCAN’s “el-Sistema inspired” Music Program model, Tafoya was accepted into the New England Conservatory’s esteemed Sistema Fellowship program in the fall of 2012. This unique professional development opportunity was designed for postgraduate musicians and music educators committed to creating careers that connect music, youth and social change.

As a Fellow, Tafoya held residencies with several Sistema-inspired initiatives in Boston, New York, Chicago, Portland and Los Angeles as well as throughout Venezuela, the home of el Sistema. To date, Tafoya is one of only 50 graduates from this international fellowship program.

Xóchitl graduated from Scripps College with a bachelors of arts in music, concentrated in violin and viola. She then attended the University of Maryland-College Park, earning a master of arts degree in ethnomusicology, researching the music of Bali, with a focus on community and ritual through Gamelan music. Tafoya also received her teaching credential in music from California State University-Northridge.

Upon graduating from the University of Maryland-College Park, Tafoya served as an active educator and musician, performing chamber and world music throughout the mid-Atlantic. In Washington, D.C., she taught string orchestra at the nationally acclaimed KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) School’s AIM (Academy Introduction Mission) in Washington, D.C. In addition, Tafoya served as visiting lecturer at Trinity Washington University and University of Maryland-College Park teaching various ethnomusicology classes.

She went on to work with the Los Angeles Unified School District and Santa Barbara Unified School. Tafoya participated as a strings coach for Bravo!, Santa Barbara Unified School District’s music program, and the Santa Barbara Youth Mariachi Ensemble.

Tafoya regularly performs with various classical and non-classical groups throughout Santa Barbara.

A graduate herself of Santa Barbara High School, Xochitl Tafoya has served as an advisor to Santa Barbara Unified and will continue to work closely with the district in planning and implementing the continued growth of iCAN’s Music Program.

— Hillary McCall is the director of network relations for iCAN.

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