Born in Cuba and in his first 6 years, Iran Garcia didn’t have options when it came to music nor anything relating to performance. It was only after he and his family received permission to travel to the United States that he began his journey as a musician and performer. He started in the 3rd grade at Biscayne Elementary, Miami Beach, and every year after that, he would perform more and more with the guitar ensembles he was part of, both in and after school. He was then shown the ethics and built his discipline as a performer when he joined the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble and the Classical Guitar Quartet, both under the direction of Clark Burris. Performing for all occasions throughout his high school experience led him to appreciate and understand what the expectations from a musician would be, in all levels after graduating from school.
Raised in a family full of educators, Iran realized at a very young age that he too had the same passion as his parents, in teaching others in whatever way possible. He received an Associates in Science Degree specializing in Music Business and Production from Miami Dade College under the direction and mentoring of Steve Roitstein, Ed Calle, and Richard Rose. He was constantly involved with classical and commercial music ensembles, recording projects and interning at various production locations. At the same time, Garcia was double majoring in Music Education under the guidance of Jose Adans as his classical guitar instructor. In order to fund his education degrees, Garcia was employed at a nearby Sam Ash music store where he interacted with music in another way… retailing.
After graduating with two different degrees, he then transferred to Florida International University where he pursued a Bachelors in Music Education directed by Dr.Kathleen Kerstetter. It was during this time that he continued with his classical guitar ensemble aspirations under the direction of Rafael Padron. He also decided to embark on a new journey and get involved as an educator as much as his accreditation would allow him. He went from retailing at Sam Ash to teaching at River Cities Charter where he taught 6th-8th grade guitar and instrumental ensemble classes. He was also hired as the after school guitar instructor for Biscayne Elementary after his Middle School hours. He suddenly found himself getting what he asked for, finishing his degree in the morning hours, and teaching music for the remaining hours of the day. He then became the music director for the North Shore Parks and Recreation, where he worked with kids of all ages in learning how to perform and operate instruments and technical equipment. All, while still working at two other schools and giving his private lessons during the weekends. “I just enjoy teaching others what was taught to me… the tradition of education, and the emphasis of never allowing one to stop learning.”
Through it all, he strengthened his dedication and reasons why he wanted to become an educator. Garcia is a firm believer that the process which students take in learning a concept is just as, if not more important than the result itself.
Trained in both classical and popular guitar, Iran Garcia teaches 4 levels of Guitar and 3 levels of Electronic Music at Miami Beach Senior High. Having picked up where Burris left off, Garcia was hired at Miami Beach Senior High School by Dr. Rosann Sidener in 2012. Proving to all his students that anything is possible with hard work, focus, and dedication, he continues to want to do more. Aside from directing the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble, the Classical Guitar Quartet, and organizing the music for all the theater plays at school, he intends to create a songwriting and creative composition community at Miami Beach Senior, for students that might want another option in music interaction. Creating music of their own for all mediums (commercial, jingle, tv, pop, poetry).
Iran has spoken both nationally and internationally on songwriting and technology for organizations such as the 2012 and 2013 Florida Music Educators Association (FMEA), the 2012 Association for Technology in Music Instruction (ATMI), the 2012 Maryland Music Education Association (MMEA), and the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Creative Music Project in the Cayman Islands. The CMP is an organization which looks to promote student-based musical creativity by providing composition and improvisation activities accompanied by technology-based workshops.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be working in the community which I’ve been a part of all my life. Having the chance to give back to what was once given to me, and to keep the tradition going.”
Here’s to life.
Michael “Mac” McNamee
Born January 20, 1963, at Mt. Sinai Hospital, Miami Beach, Florida, Mac is a true native of Miami Beach. His childhood education started at Treasure Island Elementary School. There, he was known more for his athletic capabilities than his musical ones. But with his parents’ vast influence of musical tastes, Mac would soon find himself gravitating toward a new interest: music. And, to help the process along, there was a day in the spring of 1975 that would change this direction: Watching The Rock Ensemble perform at Treasure Island Elementary School. After arriving at Nautilus Junior High School, and with influences like The Beatles, Santana, The Allman Brothers Band, The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, it was only a matter of time before music would dominate Mac’s world.
There was a short period of time—just before taking guitar seriously—that Mac had a serious interest in playing drums. If Mac’s best friend, Fred Zanegood (RE drummer, ’79-’81), hadn’t found the drums so intriguing and exciting, Mac would’ve probably become a drummer instead of a guitarist. Once Mac and Fred knew which instruments they were comfortable with, the two were almost always together practicing. It wasn’t until Mac’s senior year at Miami Beach High School that he would audition for The Rock Ensemble… and make it!
Since graduating Beach High, Mac has pursued a career in the entertainment industry; primarily behind the scenes as an audio recording engineer and music producer, and recently back on stage with Dying Van Gogh recording artist The Macsters. Along with his professional work, he’s volunteered his experience as assistant director with The Rock Ensemble from 1996-2012 with Mr. Burris, and currently with new director Mr. Iran Garcia.
Clark Douglas Burris
March 21, 1942 ~ January 28, 2016
Clark Douglas Burris was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He grew up in Monroe, New York where he attended the Monroe-Woodbury Central School system. There, in elementary school, he learned to play the trumpet. In high school, he switched to the baritone horn in concert band and stayed with the trumpet in jazz band. Mr. Burris also sang in the high school chorus, the Monroe Presbyterian Church Choir and the Monroe-Woodbury Choristers, a community chorus. He attributes his early interest in music to his mother, Phoebe Burris, who sang alto in the Monroe Presbyterian Church Choir, Mr. August Natoli, his band director, and Miss Marion Gray, his choral director and music theory teacher. In addition, Mr. Burris taught himself how to play the guitar and performed with a local band, the Variations, throughout his high school and community college years.
He lettered in football, wrestling, and track, while attending Monroe-Woodbury Central High School, and graduated in 1960. Mr. Burris attended the Orange County Community College, in Middletown, New York, where he studied music and earned his Associate in Applied Arts Degree. It was while attending OCCC that he was inspired to continue his education in music by Dr. Marvin K. Feman. “He was a great man whose talent, knowledge of music, sense of humor and commitment to giving his students unforgettable experiences in music, inspired me to pursue music as my life’s profession,” states Burris. His college expenses were paid for with the money he earned working in construction during vacations and performing with the Variations at popular local bars: Galu’s Restaurant in Highland Falls, Vince Dino’s in Middletown, Stanfield’s in Central Valley, and Hennesy’s Bar in Monroe.
Mr. Burris was hired in January 1967 by the Highland Falls Central High School System, Highland Falls, New York as the Director of Bands. He was responsible for teaching instrumental music, grades 4 through 12. In addition to his regular responsibilities, he organized a jazz band that met after school and a film scoring ensemble to accompany films that were done by the art department. “It was an exciting time in my career and I will always remember the talented students, intense rehearsals, support of the school system, and the people of of Highland Falls. I am sure that I learned as much from those students about life and teaching as, hopefully, they learned from me about music.”
In June of 1971, Mr. Burris was hired by Dr. Solomon Lichter to teach guitar at Miami Beach High School in Miami Beach, Florida. A guitar ensemble was formed, that year. The guitar ensemble met after school. These students were highly motivated and needed more than what was offered in class. In September of 1972, under Mr. Burris’ direction, the Rock Ensemble was established. Since then, the group has won many honors and has been featured in newspaper articles and television feature stories. They’ve traveled to many cities: Lakeland, Florida, Orlando, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, Atlanta, Georgia, New York, New York, Chicago, Illinois and Las Vegas, Nevada. In April of 1999, the group was invited to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. They were awarded a plaque commending the ensemble for “Rockin’ the Planet Since 1972.”
Mr. Burris was inducted into the Miami Beach Senior High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame, November 10, 2000, in “Recognition of his Achievements and Contributions to Society.”
The Miami Beach High School Guitar Ensemble has established itself as one of the premier high school musical performing groups in the United States. In addition to their many “Superior” ratings and First Place trophies, in October of 2001, they were awarded a grant by the State of Florida, the city of Miami and city of Miami Beach that enabled them to travel to Japan. The ensemble performed concerts in many cities throughout Japan, and participated in the International Peace Summit in Kagoshima. The Guitar Ensemble performed with other groups from Perth, Australia, Milan, Italy, Changsha, China, and Kagoshima, Japan.
Mr. Burris retired from Miami Beach Sr. High in June 2012 after 41 years.