By Tim Hazell
We have a way to go before reopening our cultural institutions and schools. In the meantime, however, I am pleased to announce that Rhythm, Rhyme and Reason and the Pro Musica Academy of Music have received a very generous grant from the Dibujando un Mañana (Drawing a Tomorrow) foundation in anticipation of the return to class. Rhythm, Rhyme, and Reason, also known as RR&R, quickly became a popular option for music outreach in Mexico’s primary schools from its inauguration in 2011. The program was temporarily and put on hold in 2016. Since then, the list of teachers who have endorsed its approach to liberating creative spirits has grown.
The children who attended were among the most needy in the region. Rhythm, Rhyme, and Reason, an empowering combination of innovative music teaching and hands-on approaches to playing transformed the lives of students aged 8 to 13. Many of them had latent potential and have since graduated to our Academy of Music. We transported our program directly to rural communities 44 weeks a year!
Rhythm, Rhyme, and Reason uses instruments from Mexico’s ancient past, along with those of world cultures, such as ukuleles, marimbas, guitars, and musical bows. Our objectives are to bring creative and cognitive skills that affect everyday lives to children of the entire region! Rhythm, Rhyme, and Reason will be gradually reintroduced in five school programs for the community of Los Ricos, El Nigromante, Atontonilco, Salitrillo, and, most recently, Centro San Miguel.
Movement and corporal expression are an important part of our approach to learning enhancement. Former Los Ricos school director, now Academy of Music Administrator, Maria de la Luz Jiménez (Lucha), stresses their fundamental value in general curriculum teaching. She adds, “Regardless of the subject, I now use rhythm and body language.”
The grant of approximately 315,000 pesos has been divided between Rhythm, Rhyme, and Reason, the Academy of Music, and the Fundación de Apoyo Infantil Guanajuato, A.C. (Guanajuato Children’s Support Foundation), known as FAI. Since 1992, FAI has proactively addressed women’s and children’s rights, promoting the welfare of the family and championing environmental concerns.
FAI is a collaborator with other civil and international organizations and the government of Mexico on municipal, state, and national levels. Their objectives include encouraging the comprehensive development of the child within the family, community, and environment. FAI designs work methodologies to promote the social, economic, and recreational empowerment of young people from rural and urban backgrounds.
Since May 2019, the Academy of Music and Youth Chamber Orchestra has been awarded grants worth eighteen thousand dollars, mainly from the San Miguel Community Foundation, which continues to be a major contributor to the continuity of this program.
The Academy’s Children’s String Orchestra has performed at regular concerts and municipal functions since 2016 and was winner of “Best in Its Category” at a 2017 nationwide competition sponsored by the University of Guanajuato, chosen for the title out of more than 90 participating groups.
The certified qualifications of our university graduate instructors Jesús Chavez and Francisco Matta ensure that students receive a music education of the highest quality possible and can move on to more intensive studies. It is important to note that both our maestros are full-time professional musicians and members of their own ensembles.
I have been hoping that a foundation would eventually provide the means of putting this program “back on the road.” I can only thank Dibujando un Mañana for making this possible!