Ivan Reyes Martinez: Putting Education First

Ivan Reyes Martinez has been involved with the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula for many years, since he was a teenager himself. Ivan credits his early days at the club with getting him started down the pathway towards a music career that took off right out of high school.

The magic began when Ivan got the chance to use the club’s music equipment. “There was a group of teens, maybe 25 of us, who were fighting for time in the tiny recording studio,” remembers Ivan, who had to take turns using the studio and only put his hands on the equipment for 20 or 30 minutes a day.

Ivan says Peter Pheap, former Director of the Boys & Girls Club in Redwood City, “took him under his wing” so to speak, and encouraged Ivan to finish high school and to pursue his newfound passion. “Peter saw my persistence and my determination to learn, and that is what helped me stand out from the rest of the team. He noticed that I took the basics and ran with them. Eventually I bought my own little speakers and computer and software, and after a year of experimenting, I made a CD for Peter.”

Ivan Reyes Martinez

It was not long after producing this “debut” CD for his mentor that Ivan gathered a few of his talented friends together and started making music in earnest, producing tracks that quickly became famous in his neighborhood, and then far beyond. Ivan’s music was soon being played on the radio, first on local Bay Area stations and later on the Clear Channel networks, and even received recognition on BET. Ivan soon found himself traveling across the country making music and working with well known names in the industry.

Although he knew that as a musician, he had talent and promise, Ivan decided that it was important to augment his raw talent with education and professional experience, which led him back to the Bay Area. For the last few years, Ivan has kept an ambitious schedule, pursuing a degree in music tech in the mornings, working in the afternoons, spending his evenings doing homework and producing music whenever he can.

When returning to his hometown of Redwood City, he stopped in to visit Peter Pheap and the Boys & Girls Club, and learned that the center was now hosting a Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy. Ivan was hired by the Academy to manage the music program and hit the ground running, producing I Am The Difference as his first project with his students. Since this auspicious start, Ivan has coached his students to produce the amazing body of work that has come from this program.

Ivan puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of staying focused on education, telling his students that they can’t expect to rest on talent alone. “The music industry has changed so much, it’s rare these days that anyone can just be a musician. You also have to understand production, distribution, business, marketing… There’s a lot you have to know in order to make it in the industry today, that’s why you need an education to back you up.”

Ivan Reyes Martinez

What’s different now at the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy is that with an expanded music program, students have more chances to put their hands on production equipment and fuel their passions, motivating them to stay committed to finishing school. Says Ivan of his students, “They have the artistic skills and the vision to go far. I help them focus on what they are good at, then I help them back it up with the skills they need to be a success.”

Ivan also emphasizes that no one should take things for granted, regardless of their talents and interests. “Everyone needs to think about how much work their parents and families have put into building a life and raising their kids, especially when they have immigrant parents like me. It was always my dad’s dream to see me finish my education, and that played a big part in my realization that I needed to take that next step. My dad always told me, you may have been born in this country, but without an education you will be foreign to your industry: you need to be prepared.”

Now only two quarters away from finishing his college degree, Ivan has big plans for the future. He’s been building a collection of instrumental tracks and looks forward to getting more time back in the studio himself, but he’s also looking forward to continuing his work with his Academy students.

“On a personal level, Adobe Youth Voices has helped me to fulfill that musical need that I have in me every day, the outlet to produce media that does have a purpose, that makes people feel inspired and motivates them to do something. The music industry doesn’t usually focus on that. This program keeps young people occupied with something positive, and helps to inspire them to strive and improve themselves.”

Ivan is looking forward to hearing the amazing music his students will keep writing and producing, as well as the world of inspired music he’ll review as an Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards judge.