Maria Elena Sanchez Pazos Gonzales
Maria Elena Sanchez, pianist as well as violist and violinist, has taught in the conservatory (preparatory) program at the University of Montemorelos in Mexico since 1994. In addition to teaching mostly violin lessons, following the Suzuki approach, she also teaches the string methods class to music majors and solfeo and recorder groups at both the conservatory and high school levels.
Maria Elena, or Mayi, as she is often called, was born in Veracruz, Veracruz, Mexico, to Joaquin Pazos and Maria Elena Gonzales. While she lived in several cities during her childhood, much of her time was spent in Xalapa, Veracruz. Her mother had taken voice lessons at the conservatory of Xalapa when young and had a great interest in classical music, which she shared with her daughter.
Mayi started taking piano lessons at the conservatory in Xalapa at age eight and at eleven, went to Colegio Linda Vista, an Adventist academy in the state of Chiapas in Southern Mexico. Although she didn't take formal music lessons, the pastor's wife, Juliaemy de Flores, gave her help with the piano and inspired her in her study of music.
When she finished ninth grade at CLV, she moved to Montemorelos, where she completed preparatory school in 1981 with a specialty in the medical area. Although Maria passed the examination to enter the medical program, she chose to seek acceptance in the school of nursing .
She had difficulty locating the first year nursing group on the opening day of school and became discouraged. She told her mother that she wanted to go study architecture in the city of Xalapa, Veracruz, but her mother, not wanting her to leave an Adventist school, suggested she take a semester of study in another career that might interest her.
Maria decided to explore the possibility of studying music and visited with Hector Flores, director of the music department. He explained the curriculum and enthusiastically encouraged her to study music. She took the music education degree with piano as her major performance area and graduated in 1986. She also played violin and viola in the university orchestra and clarinet in the band.
Mayi married Pedro Sanchez Meza, who had also just graduated from the school of music, in the summer of 1986. They began teaching music that fall at Colegio Linda Vista in Chiapas, where he directed the music program and the college choir, taught advanced piano students, and served as the church pianist.
Maria Elena taught the younger students in piano classes, directed the children's choir, and also accompanied the college choir. Working together, they started a string program at the school, with Maria teaching violin and viola and Pedro teaching cello and double bass.
In 1989 the Sanchezes moved back to Montemorelos, where he immediately began to teach and she stopped for awhile since she was expecting a second daughter, Adriana. Three years later a son, Pablo Ivan, was born. After his birth and infancy, she began teaching in the conservatory.
Pedro completed a master's degree in educational administration at UM in 1999. Both Pedro and Maria Elena enrolled in the Andrews University graduate music degree program offered at UM, beginning in that same year, and completed M.Mus. degrees in 2004.
The Sanchez children have all taken lessons in piano and strings. The older daughter, Tania, is pursuing a major in music education with piano as her performance area. The family enjoys playing together as a string quintet.
Source: Information sheet with transcribed and translated interview provided by Ruth Ann Wade, 2008.