The gift of genius: Music transforming lives…

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By Maria Rosalie Zerrudo

Yagubyob sa Bulkan

Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE universe is a perfect masterpiece with its billions of years of creativity.

Art is a gift of nature, as the source of inspiration for many artists. When I want to paint, like a child, I look at the colors of the sky. It’s the living canvass of color hues and tones.

The power of art is inherent in all of us. Creativity is contagious. Nature has manifested the masterpieces of creation as a mirror to human being’s sense of beauty. As we develop a sense of aesthetics, our mind expands like the universe. I always remind the children that it does not matter how small is someone’s house, for as long as their mind is as a big as the cosmos.

Life is about mastering the celestial arts, after each one struggles to overcome the mundane daily demands for survival. Arts celebrate multiple perspectives. There are many ways to see and interpret the world.

One is through music, the very fundamental universal language that moves every human being in this world.

While I see each child as a universe of his/her own waiting to multiply a thousand more ways like the big bang, he/she needs the space to expand.

An unknown author is quoted in saying “This is why I teach music… not because I expect you to major in music, not because I expect you to play or sing all your life, not so you can relax, not so you can have fun, but so you will be human, so you will recognize beauty, so you will be close to an infinite beyond this world, so you will have something to cling to, so you will have more love, more compassion, more gentleness, more good in short, more life…”

If John Lennon wrote only one song “Imagine,” it would have been good enough. But his genius was an overflowing spring of poetry so he wrote a hundred more. I believe that each child has the capacity of becoming a John Lennon. It is a matter of making them see their potential from within and discover the wellspring of creativity.

The best part I discovered is to make them use their hands. The greatest gift to you and me is our pair of hands, that can make the invisible, visible on canvass, tangible in brass band or orchestra and functional in our houses.

The musicians have now brought the streets to a virtual interactive stage on line where a very information-hungry generation has created multiple platforms for non-commercial artists that have captured my curiosity for many years. Many people have used other media forms to introduce people to their music.

Playing for Change project

One of the most viewed Youtube videos with more than 37,811,168 views since November 6, 2008; where Mister Roger Ridley, (Playing for Change, n.d.) a street musician in the streets of Santa Monica, California became part of “Stand by Me” a signature song with the Playing For Change bringing together musicians from all over the world to sing one song, one tune, in one heart.

Playing for Change was born in 2005, which involved musicians from California, Barcelona and Zuni. In year 2006, the group traveled to many more countries in Africa, USA, Nepal and India and back in Barcelona in 2007 and expanded to Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Tula, Nazareth and Jerusalem in 2008.

In the following year Playing For Change went to Ghana, Omagh, Sligo and Dublin. This movement gave me a new ear in listening to street musicians as a “global movement for peace and understanding.”

Playing for Change (2011, December 11) “is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.”

In the video Learn About Play For Change Foundation’s Seven Music Programs, a villager from Bizung School of Music and Dance Tamale, Ghana gave us a very striking message “We can share peace process through music. People have to know that music can change people’s lives.” PFCF. (2011, December 9).

The article entitled “We Are Dedicated To Creating Positive Change Through Music & Arts Education” made me see a new light at how music transformed communities and raised the consciousness of the people. At present, Playing for Change has expanded its support to seven schools in many parts of Africa and Nepal.

A nation of music

In Venezuela, arts education starts at two when children are already engaged in music and movements until they learn the culture of El Sistema.

Placido Domingo (as cited in El Sistema USA, 2009-2010), one of the world’s greatest tenors said; “The truth is, I have never felt so moved. Not only because of the emotion of the moment... but I must say because of the quality of the El Sistema musicians.”

The organization made it possible for children to dream and make their dreams come true. It took only one visionary man, to transform the lives of thousands of children.

“Led by organist, economist, and politician José Antonio Abreu, FESNOJIV (the State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras), more commonly known as “El Sistema,” teaches music to 300,000 of Venezuela’s poorest children annually with over two million students since its inception 40 years ago. “It is a tested model of how a music program can create both great musicians and dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation’s neediest kids. Among its graduates, El Sistema has nurtured international musicians such as Edicson Ruiz and Gustavo Dudamel and the world-renowned Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra.”

After watching several Youtube videos, I am so amazed at how this system unique in the world, was made available for the children. I see a very strong sense of conviction to the power of community with its strong belief in the human potential. El Sistema USA (2009-2010) “grows from loving children first and loving music second.”

Music has transformed many lives.

In Cebu, a group of musicians trained in El Sistema has started a music program for the orphans and local elementary school in depressed communities. A Christmas concert I recently watched in Cebu, dubbed “Sistemang Pilipino: Transforming Lives through Music,” at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral showcased the local talents coming from the most underprivileged families who may never have thought in their lives they will be performing as violinists in front of an audience.

Vanessa Balbuena wrote for The Freeman (Dec 2013) about another story how music found its way to the heart of the Cebuanos. “Violinist and teacher to young students of her craft Lianne Sala has for a long time been part of the development of classical music in Cebu. The youthful and vibrant Cebuana began teaching violin at the Peace Philharmonic Philippines Foundation (PPPFI) in November of 2007, and has a litany of achievements including volunteer work, all in the name of spreading the transformative power of music and promoting interest toward the rich classical genre, which is sadly still not mainstream in our parts of the world despite consistent proof that Filipinos do excel in it.

It was in one of the workshops she organized for the teachers of PPPFI on “Music Pedagogy and Conducting” back in October 2009 wherein one of their revered invited speakers showed the teacher trainees, Lianne included, a video documentary of a countrywide music program in Venezuela known as El Sistema. “That was the turning point for me,” Lianne listened to her heart and has embarked on transforming lives through music by starting the movement of Sistemang Pilipino and getting support from other musicians and benefactors to start such a powerful program in the Philippines.

One of the piano teachers, Miracle Romano hails from Dipolog, our very own Mindanaoan with a heart. Each one of us is called for a certain purpose. Let the music in our hearts make us understand what it is to be truly human. It can take only one person to change the lives of those in need. If we listen enough to the music in our hearts, life dances like a graceful rhythm of loving, giving and sharing.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 29, 2013.


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