In 2009, his senior year in high school, Rafael won the All-State Jazz Guitar Title in the state of Texas. He then performed with The All-State Jazz Band at The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX which featured the best high school student musicians in the state of Texas. There he performed with Mike Vax-Lead Trumpeter with The Stan Kenton Orchestra. He was also selected as The Four States Jazz Guitarist in The Four States Jazz Band, which was comprised of students from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. At this event, he performed at The Perot Theatre in Texarkana TX with Grammy Award Winner/Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Tom “Bones” Malone of Blues Brothers Fame and who now plays in the CBS Orchestra on The Late Show With David Letterman. After graduating high school in 2009, Rafael attended Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, where he studied Classical Guitar with Franklin Kimlicko who is from the classical guitar lineage of Francisco Tarrega, Daniel Fortea, Celedonio Romero and Pepe Romero. While at TJC, Rafael played guitar in the Top Jazz Ensemble, The Classical Guitar Ensemble, and played guitar in the front ensemble of The TJC Apache Marching Band. Rafael graduated Tyler Junior College in May of 2011 after receiving his Associates Degree in Music Performance.
Rafael is now a scholarship student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Rafael began attending Berklee in the Fall of 2011 and spent the summer prior to his big move to Boston, MA playing several venues with his band and had the opportunity to perform with Grammy Award Winner/Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jim Fielder. Rafael also performed at another venue with The Famous Boogie Woogie Pianist Omar Shariff in Marshall, TX, The Birthplace of The Boogie Woogie.
Since attending Berklee, Rafael Espinoza has had the opportunity of studying electric guitar under Kevin Belz. Mr. Espinoza has attended Master Classes under Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers and also got to perform with The Grammy Award Winner/Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mr. Ernie Isley. Espinoza has also attended Master Classes under Steve Morse ("Best Overall Guitarist" for Guitar Player Magazine for 5 years in a row and member of The "Guitar Player Hall of Fame.") of Kansas and Deep Purple and The Steve Morse Band and also performed with Mr. Steve Morse himself. Rafael took part in several master classes with Country/Blues Guitarists Woody Mann and Paul Rishell through Berklee’s Visiting Artist Program. Rafael Espinoza was also selected to perform for the 2011 Jazz and Blues Guitar Night at The Berklee Performance Center on Thursday Night, November 10th. 2011, which was hosted by Guitar Department Faculty Garrison Fewell and John Marasco. The Concert featured Berklee's Best Student Guitarists and their Ensembles in Jazz and Blues styles. The Guitar Night concerts are some of the most anticipated student performances of the year. Many students consider participating in this event the high point of their Berklee career. Mr. Espinoza recently declared his major in Professional Music and will be graduating with his Bachelors Degree from Berklee in the Spring of 2013. Berklee College of Music is one of the top music schools in the world and includes alumni such as John Mayer, Quincy Jones, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Vai, Emily Elbert, and Esperanza Spalding.