At only 17 years old, Mariangel De Oliveira is the first student at the Garden Music School to become a teacher. The Windermere High School senior started at the school in the beginning of 2020, when she began taking voice lessons with Professor Samuel Johnson.
“When we moved to Windermere, I came with my parents to downtown Winter Garden to walk around, and as soon as I saw the school, I knew I had to go in,” De Oliveira said. “I found out the owner, Jorge Cid, is Venezuelan, and the school and I just immediately clicked.”
The De Oliveira family moved in 2019 to the United States from Venezuela. They lived in Osceola before coming in 2020 to Windermere.
The young vocalist said moving to a new country was hard, and she often felt alone. However, music was her therapy and outlet.
“I want the people to feel the songs,” De Oliveira said. “That’s my goal. To communicate and share experiences.”
De Oliveira said she was joking with Cid about working at the school, but he decided to take her up on her offer.
As a songwriter, singer and producer, Cid said he recognized her talent easily.
“Seeing a young girl grow with her dedication and commitment in our school is a great achievement,” Cid said. “Nowadays, when music is so damaged, that is basically what we are looking for in our school. Rescuing the good music, and with Mariangel and a lot of other very young kids, that is happening.”
In her time at the school, De Oliveira has learned a multitude of skills, including how to breathe during vocal performances and how to control her voice. She now hopes to pass on those skills to her own students.
Although she has only been teaching for a week, the young vocalist loves it.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I appreciate it so much. I never thought that I would be the first here, but I am so grateful. I want the kids to have fun and be happy but also learn a lot.”
Tatiana Cuence, general manager at the school, said the organization looks for teachers who fit the school’s culture and that age is not a factor they consider when selecting the most knowledgable and experienced professional.
“We want to maybe change this idea of having super structured, old-fashioned lessons,” she said. “Theory is a need in music, but you can make it fun. And if you can create an environment where kids can explore their creativity, I think you get a better reward.”
Cuence said De Oliveira not only is a great teacher but also a motivation and hero for the other students.
Cid said he is passionate about the business — not only for the money but also, and more importantly, for the culture. He said his vision is to create a safe place for musicians to explore their talents beyond just the lessons.
The school offers private lessons for all ages, a recording studio, instrument rental, a retail store, workshop and rehearsal rooms.
Music has been a part of De Oliveira’s life since she started lessons in Venezuela at 5 years old.
Although moving to a new area was difficult, the school provided her a community she didn’t know she needed but now could never leave. The school taught her not only skill sets but also to love herself.
“I’m always connected with all of the people here,” she said. “Here, we are a family.”
The young vocalist has dedicated countless hours to practicing performing at the school and is now focusing on a new goal — composition.
De Oliveira said she started to learn piano a few months ago, which is teaching her the harmony knowledge she needs to write songs and put the music together.
She is currently working to develop her first single, with Cid’s help.
“When you love it, it’s easy,” she said. “You just dedicate the time to it, and that’s it.”
De Oliveira sings in both Spanish and English, focusing on romantic and sad songs, and deriving her inspiration from artists such as Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Servando y Florentino and Ricardo Arjona.
Although she is the only person who has a passion for music in her family, she shared that her father, Juan De Oliveira, and her mother, Adriana Andrade, have always supported her in all of her dreams, no matter her path.
“My mom always says, ‘If you love it, keep doing it,’” she said.
De Oliveira plans on pursuing music in college, possibly starting at Valencia to study musical production, with the goal of studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Although she also has a passion for literature, poetry, reading and writing, De Oliveira knows she is on the right path for her future.
“I don’t see myself doing anything else,” she said of music.
The young star will be performing with her rock lab at Fridays on the Plaza in October in downtown Winter Garden.