Every faculty and staff member and student in the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music who interacts with Francisco Morales Font remarks on how friendly he always is and what a positive attitude he always has. His positive personality is infectious among the campus music community, and people can’t help feeling happier when interacting with him, students and colleagues say.
And if you ask Morales — Paco to all who know him best — why and how he keeps such a positive, friendly attitude, he’s quick to reply: “My positivity is because SFA has given me the greatest opportunity of my life, and it’s here that I feel very happy and grateful.”
That attitude is among many reasons why Morales was named a 2023 recipient of the SFA President’s Achievement Award.
Morales is the School of Music’s piano technician, which means he keeps all acoustic, hybrid and digital pianos and harpsichords in top performance condition according to manufacturers’ specifications. That includes tuning, cleaning, lubricating, repairing and rebuilding the multitude of pianos on campus. But his expertise is not limited to pianos.
“I enjoy repairing anything that’s broken in the School of Music,” he said, “including helping students when they have problems with their instruments.”
Enthusiastic about anything and everything having to do with piano technology, Morales has a Bachelor of Arts in music education and was a music teacher in his homeland of Puerto Rico for 15 years. His mother was a pianist, and his father was an engineer. He believes their combined passions led him to his interest in and love of pianos and piano technology. He came to SFA in 2014 and is in his ninth year as the School of Music’s piano technician.
Colleagues who nominated Morales also commented on his willingness to “go above and beyond the call of duty” to ensure that campus pianos are in top order. “When Cole Concert Hall and the Music Recital Hall are busy during concert seasons, Mr. Morales either comes in early in the morning, like 6 a.m., or stays late at night, past 9 p.m., to make sure that the pianos are in tune and concert ready,” one wrote.
Another colleague said, “During the course of a regular semester, the SFA School of Music presents on average about 250 separate events that require the use of a piano. Many of these events are held in the evening and weekends, so his maintenance schedule has to work with the regular classes and rehearsals for each performance, and he does so with grace and pride in his work. His service impacts the entire student body in the school and its success. I cannot think of a more deserving individual for this award.”
At the beginning of each academic year, the School of Music hosts its annual convocation when all faculty and staff are introduced to the current and incoming music students. There, it’s Paco Morales who receives the loudest and longest reception, “demonstrating how much he is respected, loved and valued at SFA,” said another colleague.
Morales said Nacogdoches and the SFA campus remind him of the town where he earned his degree, and he feels very much at home in the School of Music.
“Our faculty are at the highest level as professors and performers, and they are extremely friendly,” he said. “Our students are dedicated to their studies and are friendly and respectful. I feel like I’m in paradise.”
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