Posted on April 7, 2022 by Christopher Reichert


“Pretty much ever since I was young, I’ve been drawn to rock and roll,” Tiffany Farias-Sokoloski said. Fascinated by the genre – from the memento mori album art to the rebellious personas of the artists – Farias-Sokoloski bought her first guitar at age 15, taught herself how to play, and formed a band with some friends.  

“Three angsty punk rock girls,” she recalls. “We were awful. We never played a show.”  

It’s a scene that has played out in countless garages and basements across America. But while most of those angsty teens go on to hang up their axes, cut their hair, and join the professional world, some will always take a little bit of rock ‘n roll wherever they go – or, in the case of Farias-Sokoloski, a lot of rock ‘n roll.   

Photo of Students playing music Tiffany Farias-Sokoloski is an assistant professor of instruction with the College of Education and Human Development. She works with clinical teachers, helping them prepare for their certifications, teaching courses, and organizing trainings and orientations. Those who know her from the lecture hall or the classroom may not realize that she’s equally comfortable on the stage. But the stage, she says, is what got her into the classroom in the first place.  

“I can see how one may not associate rock and roll and education,” she said, “but to a large degree I took that and used that to advocate for my students, just being courageous and speaking up for them and their families.”  

Farias-Sokoloski says performing, especially with her current band Yoshimoto, has helped her grow tremendously, allowing her to come out of her shell and be creative without being perfect. It also exemplifies her worldview and lets her act on her convictions, such as advocacy; Yoshimoto has raised funds for a variety of causes, from homeless LGBTQ youth to feral cats. Her experiences as a rocker and an educator prompted her to take up yet another mantle: Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit San Antonio Girls Rock (SAGR).   

SAGR is a summer camp for girls ages 10-16, that helps them learn an instrument, form their own band, and perform original songs. But while the camp has many of the elements you might expect – like music teachers and songwriting coaches – it also features workshops covering topics such as body image and social justice. Farias-Sokoloski says this approach was inspired by her own musical journey and based off a similar program in Austin.  

“I realized something needed to be done so that girls who are like me, in their teenage years, upset about all these different things, and wanting to learn more about themselves through music could get together and do that,” she said.   

Farias-Sokoloski is proud of the work SAGR has done (she estimates nearly 100 girls have attended since the camp launched in 2017) but says the journey hasn’t always been easy. One of her primary challenges has been ensuring SAGR remains sustainable; she says she’s never viewed the non-profit SAGR as a money-making venture. While there is a tuition fee to attend SAGR, Farias-Sokoloski says denying those who can’t afford to attend would run counter to her mission of providing opportunities for all girls.  

“That has really not helped me in terms of a business model,” she jokes.  

But guaranteeing access to as many girls as possible is no joking matter for her. In order to keep costs low, Farias-Sokoloski says she has become SAGR’s unpaid webmaster, social media manager, grant writer, and after-school program coordinator, just to name a few.  

Another challenge SAGR may face is how it differs from other music camps and non-profits. For example, while most music camps focus exclusively on theory and technique, that isn’t Farias-Sokoloski’s primary goal.  

“We’re not about perfection, we’re not about ‘you have to learn the fundamentals, like this is a G chord, this is a C chord,’ that’s not what we do,” she said. “In fact, we’ve had several bands throughout the years that are pretty much noise, and we encourage that because I mean that’s a genre. ‘Hey, get up there and you’re creating!’ That’s what we’re about.”  

Similarly, unlike many other non-profits that serve girls is that it doesn’t specifically prioritize academics. But Farias-Sokoloski argues that academics are enhanced by creativity and self-expression.  

They’re creating something that’s timeless that no one can take away from them – it’s theirs.” 

“We aren’t targeting academics directly,” she said, “but we are indirectly because of the way that we support creativity and the girls’ self-esteem; we’re providing that outlet for them to funnel their energies in a way that gives them immediate gratification through music. They’re creating something that’s timeless that no one can take away from them – it’s theirs.”  

The slightly different focus of SAGR also caused some parental pushback during its first year, Farias-Sokoloski recalls. The issue was the workshops, specifically one on social media and the other on gender and self-expression. Some parents felt that some themes were too mature for the younger girls, while others objected to the political overtones and requested the camp stick to rock and roll. Since then, Farias-Sokoloski has worked to communicate with parents what each workshop covers, and the problems have disappeared, but the advice to “stick to rock and roll” still amuses her.  

“In my mind, I’m like ‘How can you do rock and roll without politics? Or any of that. How do you do rock and roll without feeling?’” 

“In my mind, I’m like ‘How can you do rock and roll without politics? Or any of that. How do you do rock and roll without feeling?’”  

More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has also posed a serious challenge to SAGR’s mission. In order to still serve girls during the pandemic, Farias-Sokoloski says SAGR partnered with another local non-profit, San Antonio Sound Garden. Together, the two groups curated an online experience that allowed the girls to collaborate virtually and gain familiarity with using electronic instruments and software. This allowed SAGR to continue services but came with other downsides.   

photo of students rockin' out

“It was really tough because a lot of what we create at our summer camp is because of the in-person experiences, and it made it really tough to build the community in the same way that we normally would,” Farias-Sokoloski said. “Being online is convenient, but it’s extremely limiting…that organic type of community building isn’t there.”  

Despite these challenges, Farias-Sokoloski has been working to expand the reach of SAGR from a one-week summer camp to a continuous after-school program.  

“This is our second semester having our in-person after-school programming, and it’s been fantastic,” she said.   

SAGR has partnered with the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in the San Antonio Independent School District. As with the summer camp, girls don’t need any previous musical experience, and instruments are provided to those who need them. With the longer timespan available, girls spent the first half of the semester learning their instruments; after this they began forming into bands. Now the girls spend their time rehearsing with their groups. In addition to musical growth, Farias-Sokoloski has seen tremendous personal growth as well.  

“They just seem so confident, even more so than they were last semester, and I would like to think that music has had a role in that,” she said.  

For all of her work in the San Antonio community, Farias-Sokoloski was recently nominated for the San Antonio Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award.  

“It’s really humbling and it’s a huge honor to be recognized [as] part of a group of people doing different things and having an influence on the community in a similar way,” she said.  


— Christopher Reichert