Rock on: Spanish teacher performs outside of school

Olivia Bragg
Bacigalupe performs “Come On Get Higher” by Matt Nathanson

Olivia Bragg, Staff Writer


Photo by Olivia Bragg

A toddler’s cries are heard down the hall. Sluggish footsteps move in the dark with a heavy guitar case dragging behind. It will be impossible to get up in the morning.

With a 19-month-old daughter who still gets up in the middle of the night and eager Spanish students to  to teach at school, Spanish teacher Robert Bacigalupe, or “Bobby B” on stage, is left sleepless regularly, but this does not stop him from playing gigs outside of school. The rewards of performing are worth the discomfort.

The road to playing gigs started with a young Bacigalupe searching for a way to learn guitar after hearing hits like “Run to the Hills” and “Number of the Beast’ from Iron Maiden. He ended up playing all through high school with the reward of trying out for the All-Region and All-State jazz band.

“I wanted to play faster than all the other guitar players,” Bacigaplupe said. “It was all about who could play the fastest.”

Despite studying guitar and getting a music teaching degree, Bacigalupe decided against teaching music full time because of the demanding schedule of hours spent preparing for concerts and contests.

“It was a balancing act,” Bacigalupe said. “Do I want to teach Spanish and have a little extra time on the side to play music or teach music full time and have zero time to go out and play music and not appreciate that fact that I’m playing music when I do it all day long? It’s like a mechanic that goes home and doesn’t want to work on his own car.”

The choice to teach Spanish instead of music left Bacigalupe with more time for himself and appreciative students.

“It’s cool that he is able to go out and [play] gigs,” sophomore Kaylee Hairel said. “You don’t always have a teacher that can do that. He’s a good teacher, there’s always a good mix of independent learning and group classwork in which he helps us with proper grammar and word order and things like that [and] sometimes he teaches us songs.”

While Bacigalupe preferred playing music on the side to keep his appreciation for music, he began playing gigs for other reasons.

“Basically it’s just another way of making ends meet,” Bacigalupe said. “It beats delivering pizzas. It beats having to go work at McDonald’s. This is what I do. I have a family and we have to do what it takes sometimes to not be behind on our bills.”

It is easy to see why Sambuca 360 in The Shops at Legacy (where “Bobby B” performed Sunday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m.) in Plano remains a favorite venue for Bacigalupe. At 8 p.m., Sambuca 360 is packed when he takes the stage and at the completion of the first song, the applause seems never ending.

However, throughout his years, Bacigalupe also has experience with venues that exhaust his gas and his energy.

“A hotel in Arlington had this night club in it that I was not crazy about,” Bacigalupe said. “It was just the idea that I had to drive all the way out to Arlington and get in around two or three in the morning and being completely beat. There were late nights like that.”

Bacigalupe is not the only one who dislikes the late nights though. His family, while supportive, understands that playing gigs can lead to coming in late and waking up tired.

“If I’m really tired and he is really noisy, obviously it makes for some fussiness around here,” Bacigalupe’s wife Wendy said. “There are some days he is a little more lethargic or tired because he was out later, but for the most part, because it’s only on weekends, he has time to recover.”

While Bacigalupe may cause vibration through the house, the reward of playing music is greater than the inconvenience according to Wendy.

“It’s great that he has the opportunity to play music and do something that other people appreciate,” Wendy said. “He has a natural ability at [music] so why not give that to other people?”

Sounds of a piano and guitar duet featuring Bacigalupe and his daughter, Dylan, is proof of the effect music has on the Bacigalupe family.

“We have a piano at the house and she gets on the piano and plays it when he is practicing guitar,” Wendy said. “She goes in there and she is really interested. She’s strumming the chords with him. If we take her to Guitar Center she will pick up guitars and wants to play with them. She’s constantly singing and wants to be sung to. She is showing signs of having the same gift that he does.”

Even though Dylan gets up in the night, Bacigalupe also lights up when speaking about her.

“She’s precious,” Bacigalupe said. “I’m definitely going to teach her [how to play].”

Even with late nights and crying toddlers, Bacigalupe’s passion for music will have him continuing music for as long as possible.

“As long as my heart is still beating, I don’t plan on stopping,” Bacigalupe said. “I won’t ever stop playing music.”


Photos by Olivia Bragg