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Tammy Acosta


Early as a child I remember looking out the big picture window and thinking, What will my life be like when I grow up? Through my teen years, I became enamored with music and nature.

I could be seen dragging my used “flea market find” guitar up and down Lincoln Avenue every week to take music lessons at Stevens Music in downtown Willow Glen. All of which I paid for by babysitting and house cleaning.

My parents thought my pursuit of music and study of foreign language would never amount to anything. Little did they know, I would make a career out of teaching music and live in Brazil for five years.

By the time I was 15, I began dabbling with music at San Jose City College and expanded my interests to percussion studies. It was a constant juggle of study and work. You could find me waiting tables at John XLNT Foods night and day, working hard to pay for my tuition, drumsticks, and other equipment.

Within a few years, I became a part of the San Jose Youth Symphony and the San Jose Wind Ensemble. Those organizations allowed me to travel to Germany and Switzerland. Soon after, I continued my studies at San Jose State University, where I became a student of esteemed Principle Percussionist of the San Francisco Symphony, Anthony “Tony” Cirone.

After five years of studying with Tony, I moved to Brazil and during that time I toured with the famous Brazilian composer Jonny Alf playing percussion and vibes. As usual, I continued a day job and taught ESL for five years in companies and elite English schools.

Upon returning to the United States, I got serious with a day gig as a salesperson and meanwhile co-founded Capoeira of San Jose, a Brazilian martial arts school. There, I taught group and private percussion lessons related to the art of Capoeira. During this time I was involved in directing and organizing countless presentations for the group in the Bay Area, Canada, and Russia. I appeared on the popular television Bay Area Backroads to represent the Academy and its work.

Since 1995, I have been teaching privately out of my home. Hundreds of kids, teens, and adults have come through my door and gone on to do great things with their music and their lives.

I love my work. It brings me great joy to join people from the community together with a common goal.

Everyday I wake up with new ideas, inspired by my students. I can’t wait to see what the next fifteen years has to bring.


  • Started playing guitar at 14
  • Studied guitar and percussion at San Jose City College 1976
  • Studied percussion at San Jose State 1978; Studied with world renown orchestral percussionist, Anthony Cirone; Studied with drummer and arranger, Dan Sabanovich, leader of SJSU Brazilian percussion ensemble.
  • Moved to Brazil; performed regularly at elite hotels in Sao Paolo 1984-1989
  • Studied guitar at San Jose State with Rick Vandevier 1998-2000
  • Performed with various groups at San Jose State University 2000-2005
  • Performed with and managed various local groups 2000-2005
  • Co-founder and director of music program for the original Capoeira of San Jose at 1042 Park Avenue, SJ from 1989-2008
  • 1998 Began teaching private music lessons to children, teenagers, and adults out of Willow Glen home studio

My Philosophy

My initial goal for the student is relaxation and personal enjoyment during our time together. Only through calmness can learning begin. Those who initially dabble with music will eventually find their own inspiration and become amazing artists. The “slow burn” students, as I call them, eventually catch on fire.