At Work: Angelo Miranda, Ed.D. | Teachers College Columbia University

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At Work: Angelo Miranda, Ed.D.

A renaissance man spreads good vibes
Who He Is
Angelo Miranda is the Video Services Coordinator at Teachers College, where he oversees the Instructional Media Lab, dispenses camcorder equipment and teaches workshops on software such as ProTools, iMovie, and Final Cut Pro. Additionally, Miranda consults with faculty members who need guidance with their own video work and supervises his assistants in the editing of videotaped interviews and other work.
When he’s not working in video, Miranda, who is also a graduate of TC’s Doctoral Program in Music Education, serves as Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Music Education program, offering 10 hours of percussion instruction to two to three students per semester, so that aspiring music teachers can learn about percussion methods. Occasionally, Miranda instructs non-music majors from Columbia and TC, who have a special interest. “I get a lot of students who say they have no rhythm,” he says. “I say, ‘Can you dance? Then chances are, you can probably pick this up.’” 

Road to TC
Born and raised in New York City to Puerto Rican-born parents, Miranda has lived for the majority of his 62 years in Manhattan (including in the Frederick Douglass projects, on 103rd and Amsterdam Avenue, when he was a child). After high school, Miranda enlisted in the Navy from 1964-1969. He was stationed off the coast of Vietnam on the U.S.S. Okinawa, which served as a landing platform for helicopters.
When his term was up, Miranda opted to return to New York and enroll in trade school, where he learned to become an electronic technician. Of his time in the service, he says simply, “Wasn’t for me.”
Miranda traces his passion for music back to when he was a youngster listening to his father play harmonica. His dad supported Miranda’s decision in junior high school to take up the violin. Before long, Miranda became skilled enough to play in the Manhattan Borough-Wide Junior High School Orchestra (noted Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman was the concert master). When Miranda entered the ninth grade, the drum chair opened up. “I was inspired by the theme song to ‘Peter Gunn’, a TV detective show—it sounded like the theme to Hawaii 5-0, and it made me want to play drums.”
As it turns out, drumming agreed with Miranda. At City College, where he had initially gone to study engineering, he wound up playing in three bands: as drummer in a jazz band, timpani player in the school orchestra, and drummer in the City College’s Big Band. Soon Miranda found himself immersed in the Music Program, where he studied with John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet. There, he completed his Bachelor’s of Arts.
When Miranda reported to work as a secretary in TC’s Bilingual Education program in 1981, his plan was to enroll in TC’s Music Education program and make good use of the College’s tuition incentives. Upon completing his Master’s in 1983, Miranda sailed straight into the doctoral program, which took him 15 years, working full-time at the College, to complete. His dissertation explored the use of technology for teaching percussion.
After a short stint as assistant to the electronics engineer in the library, Miranda learned of the opening in Video Services. “Having a background in electronics gave me the confidence to apply, even though I didn’t have video experience,” he says of his latest TC transfer, in the early nineties.

In His Spare Time
What spare time? Miranda’s music card remains full; he plays in no less than four different bands, including: Quinto Nivel, a salsa band in which he plays the vibraphone; the T. Fleischer Trio, a jazz group in which he plays drums with James Corter, TC Professor of Statistics and Education; the Continental Orchestra, a Hungarian band with a touring schedule; and an impromptu jazz trio with Corter and Paul Acquaro, Director of the TC Web.  

Best Part of the Job
Miranda loves the interrelatedness of music, video and technology and finds the transition from one area to another to be seamless. Plus, he says: “Technology is changing so fast—it’s exciting. Sometimes it’s challenging to keep up, but it also keeps my job interesting.”
Another highlight: Hosting luminary guests in the studio, including most of TC’s presidents, a high-profile U.S. governor, and even South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who received a medal from TC at the College’s convocation in 2003.
When he’s teaching, Miranda especially values “seeing students progress from the place where they think they don’t know anything to recording their CDs.”

Did You Know?
For four years in the early 1990s, Miranda was President of TC’s Tai Chi Club. He took up tai chi during a semester at City College, and ithas been a daily part of his life ever since. He studied with Da Liu, a Chinese master, until the latter’s death. Since a period of being “masterless,” Miranda has studied with William Chen, another master, who was a good friend of Da Liu’s. He’s also experimented with other forms of martial arts, including aikido and bagua.
Of Tai Chi, Miranda says, “If you have enough room to lay down a cow, you have enough room to practice.” 

Published Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010