Music is a Family Affair for the Ensey Brothers

John Ensey poses with a guitar in front of a saguaro.Musical ability often runs in a family, with studies showing a talent for music is at least 40% genetic. For the Ensey brothers, it's not just music but also teaching that's a family affair.

John and Paul Ensey have been musicians from a young age, with John favoring the guitar and Paul on the bass. Both got their start teaching in TUSD at age 15, when they worked in the music mentorship program at the former Rogers Elementary School. 

John and Paul went on to get their degrees in music, and Paul came back to Tucson to earn his teaching certificate from Pima Community College. He's now been with the district for eight years, teaching at various schools including Blenman, Cavett, Cragin and Davidson Elementaries, Roberts-Naylor K-8, Doolen Middle and Catalina High. He was the one who encouraged John to get into teaching music. 

John started off as a long-term substitute teacher at Roskruge K-8 and Pistor Middle before moving full-time at Miles K-8. John is now the orchestra teacher at Robins K-8, while Paul teaches orchestra at Catalina, Cragin and Davidson. Paul Ensey poses with a violin.

The brothers have another connection to TUSD – Paul's wife, Ellen, recently joined the district teaching music at Cragin. Ellen has been playing the violin since she was a child and has experience working with private students. Joan Ashcraft, TUSD's Director of Fine Arts, brought her on about two months ago, and Ellen says it's been a big change going from working with students one-on-one in a private lesson to teaching 20+ students in a classroom. Most of her students now are beginners and she says, "I have to think about the basics more. Things like posture aren't intuitive to new musicians."

Paul and Ellen are both musicians in the Tucson Symphony, while John often performs as a guest guitarist for bands around the Tucson area. When asked about their biggest musical influences, John says Adam Jones (Tool), Matt Bellamy (Muse) and Jim Hall (jazz guitarist), while Paul says his orchestra teacher at Sahuaro High School had the biggest impact on him. Ellen Ensey poses with a violin

The brothers see music as being a high point of many students' educational experiences. "I get to see some of the same kids from 4th grade to 12th grade," Paul says, "so I watch them grow up, and it just builds kind of a family that's creating art together."