Project Costa Rica

By Rebecca Jackson

*SOUND IMPACT, Project Costa Rica (July 2013) team included myself, Danielle, and Sara Lee, a DC based flutist.

Just a few hours ago I departed Costa Rica and during my long layover in San Salvador, have decided to reflect on our richly rewarding trip. 

During our first car ride, my eyes were fed a deep green color only seen in the hydrated tropics.  The green covered high hills were also draped in an ethereal mist.  Our home for the week was Casa de Franco’s, a funky converted mansion with many unique bedrooms. There was a common area with high ceilings and a hodge-podge of framed photographs and art covering every square inch of the walls.  It was here we enjoyed most of our meals, routinely consisting of rice, beans and a protein – which they seem to enjoy covering with different variations on a tomato based sauce. 

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During the week we had the pleasure of bringing live music to several Costa Rican communities – the majority of our listeners were children from families of tough socio-economic backgrounds.  Our performances and interactive workshops were for most, their first experience seeing the violin and cello and certainly their first time hearing live classical music.  At a children’s home we performed in a living room for thirteen kids ranging in age from 2 to 11.  As Danielle and Sara played an arm’s reach away, I will never forget how still the 2 year old sat, completely mesmerized.  Another moment we’ll never forget is when Olga (who served us my most favorite meals!) said to Danielle following our Wednesday concert, “I nourished your bodies but you fed my soul.” 

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Just when we didn’t think it could get more rewarding, we encountered the kids at SINEM school in San Ramon (SINEM is an after school music program sponsored by the Costa Rican government and modeled after EL SISTEMA started in Venezuela).  This particular school serves 300 kids.  We were encouraged to hear that no child is ever turned away for lack of money.  We were stunned and touched to discover that Manuel co-founder of the San Ramon school, a trumpet player, taught strings before they could find string teachers. 

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We began with a masterclass.  A masterclass could be described as a private lesson that is observed by an audience.  The lesson is usually conducted by a visiting musician.  When you are visiting there is a limitation on what can be achieved – our main goal is to encourage, teach core universal principles, and reaffirm things their teachers work so hard on with them.  Shy and nervous at first, the children very quickly warmed up to us.  In 90 minutes I could feel a bond form. 

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Following the masterclass, the three of us gave a recital.  The room was so packed, the kids were spilling into the aisles, staircase, and up into the loft.  Danielle, Sara, and I played our hearts out for these kids and hoped we opened their minds to many possibilities and encouraged the pursuit of spectacular dreams. 

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As we departed, Manuel warmly said, “Should you return, our doors will always be wide open for you.” 

We can’t wait for our next trip! 

We love Costa Rica!

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