Musician Victor San Pedro returns to Rio as student teacher


Victor San Pedro plays his Stratocaster at Muri im Pflegidach on a European tour. Photo courtesy of Victor San Pedro

Clara Swanson, Guest Writer

Like many other musicians, Victor San Pedro began learning the piano at a young age. Fueled by two older brothers and an innate talent, San Pedro thrived in piano lessons and launched a life-long love affair with music. When his father pressured him to play the guitar as a middle schooler, San Pedro dismissed the idea: “Why would I play guitar when I play piano?” he asked. But the lessons that began as a chore would shape the rest of his life.

Now a professional musician, San Pedro looks to the future. After taking a gap year, paying his way through college with gig money, and working in the L.A. music industry for years, San Pedro recently finished his master’s degree in education and will start as a student teacher for the Rio Americano High School band program, his alma mater. He continues to write and produce his own music in his at-home Sacramento studio and is excited to release a new song this coming week.

From college, how did you get involved in the music scene in LA?

I was starting to get the feeling that jazz wasn’t what I wanted to focus on and that was extremely scary for me because that’s all I had done. I put a lot of eggs into the jazz basket. I wanted to just do music the way I wanted to, which maybe isn’t the best financial situation, but it was extremely appealing to me. I started off doing a lot of local gigs in LA and toured with some smaller indie bands. Later on, I got to record for some Capitol Record artists. So much of being in the industry is being authentically yourself…you can get a sense of what someone’s all about right away and I think I was able to get a lot of work because I was an agreeable person.

What did you do over the pandemic?

Through all my time in LA, I was teaching. I’ve always loved teaching and it’s been the constant through all the crazy leaps of faith that I’ve done. As soon as the pandemic hit, I thought “I’m pretty reckless with my career so I may as well take a giant leap into teaching.” So through the pandemic, I got my masters and my teaching credential.

Was there another reason that got you into teaching?

Over time, I realized what I liked about music—I really love creating music that is important to me and that is genuine to an audience. I was doing a lot of modern jazz, which kind of rode me the wrong way…I’ve always really loved teaching, though. After every lesson, I find myself feeling more inspired than before. The pandemic made me think about teaching more seriously. I’ve turned down some pretty serious tours, which was hard, but I don’t regret it at all. Every time I’ve subbed or given lessons, I’ve loved it.

How do you approach songwriting?

I’ve written a lot of songs with a lot of different people so I’ve had the privilege of seeing many different approaches. I’ve seen people spend a lot of time perfecting one line. I’ve seen a lot of people who just take a random idea and go with it. I spend most of my time in the very beginning. I’ll think of a seed,a certain mood or theme or hook, and once I find it the song almost writes itself.

What’s your most memorable experience you’ve had in your career?

I went on a mini tour in Europe for my own music, which was honestly pretty scary. I went alone to these gigs where I had no idea what was going to happen. I mean I could’ve been held ransom in a foreign country or something. Maybe not the best decision ever, but I ended up playing at a really cool venue in Switzerland called Muri im Pflegidach. I was doing all my original stuff, just me with no band. It affirmed for me that I don’t need to be a side-man to play a fulfilling gig. People will recognize my art, even overseas.