This is for readers in the Philippines. Or maybe you’re not in the Philippines but can think of a way to help. Excerpts from a letter from a young teacher and community activist:
I am currently teaching a guitar class at the U.P College of music as part of my thesis. My students are members of the Gawad Kalinga Project Laura in Commonwealth, an underprivileged community. I have 11 students in one class, their ages range from 6 to 57 years old. Quite the challenge I know. But the bigger challenge is, not a single one of them owns a guitar.
We hold our classes 2 hours a day, once a week. The first part would be for music theory, the second part would be it’s application on the instrument, which we do by taking turns and passing around my guitar. We’ve been doing this for 7 weeks now since we started last July 3.
We sent out a letter as early as June 19, 2008 to an identified sponsor, requesting their company to lend us guitars. We promised to take care of them and return them after our classes were done. It took weeks before they actually responded. They mentioned they will “release funds” and they will send us 8 guitars, (tsss.. 11 nga yung studyante ko eh, grr..) but they didn’t give us an exact date. Maghintay lang daw kami, my adviser said.
So that’s what we’ve been doing, waiting. The first few weeks, I thought it would be okay to do without the guitar because I’d be introducing the elements of music. But now that we’ve reached our 7th week, with still no sign of the guitars. . .
My students are good students. They are very receptive to the musical concepts I’ve been teaching them. But shempre lahat naman ng klase ng learning hindi complete unless you are able to apply it.
Last Thursday I felt as if someone ran a knife across my chest. when one of my students said she’s been practicing the strumming and chord positions at home. I asked if she knows someone with a guitar, and she said “nag-drawing lang po kame sa papel mam.” [“I just drew the frets on paper, mam](argh! I felt so bad)
But I had to be optimistic for them so I said, “That’s good! Natutuwa ako at nakakahanap kayo ng iba’t-ibang paraan para matuto, hayaan niyo dadating na yung gitara niyo, antay lang tayo.” [I’m happy that you are finding different ways to learn. Just wait, the guitars will come.] I say that every meeting, and I don’t think I can keep showing up empty-handed. . .
So this is where I am humbly asking your help. I need to borrow 8 nylon-stringed guitars from anyone willing to help–anyone with a big heart and ready to receive lots of good karma from the universe. Out of the 11 students 3 of them are already covered so I only need 8 more. Please, it’s for a very good cause. Don’t worry, I assure you, they are good people and they will take care of your guitars. I would make sure that each one of your guitars will be returned to you unharmed by Sept. 30, or even earlier, as soon as my students get their guitars from our sponsor.
The main objective of my thesis is to help their community by uplifting their self-esteem and instill confidence in them through music and performance. Because learning and performing music provides opportunities for students to let down their inhibitions and be able to express themselves freely.
By helping them realize their musical potential and perform together as a group, they would develop a sense of unity, foster cooperative spirit and strengthen their relationship as a community.
With your help, they could very much achieve this and so much more. Please. . .
Sincerely, Thea Tolentino
Maybe you have a nylon string lying around that you can share for a few weeks? E-mail me directly and I can send you Thea’s info.
Building community through music. Sounds like a beautiful project.