Project CR: Stories from Tour

After 9 months of planning and through the generous support of 100+ donors, Sound Impact’s 10 day non-stop, action packed tour has come to an end. Joining Danielle, Tiffany, and Rebecca were guest artists Juan Jaramillo and Costa Rican native Elizandro Garcia Montoya. In the coming weeks we will post extended entries by each musician but for now the following are short snippets – just a few of the many moments experienced on this unforgettable and richly rewarding trip.

Rebecca: We are so grateful to Elizandro and Juan for giving so much and embracing and demonstrating the mission of Sound Impact. Not only did they share their musical gifts but they also helped us communicate through LOTS O’ translation, carried gear, patiently waited when things got delayed, infused the atmosphere with fun through their sense of humor, and the list goes on. Even though we only came together as a quintet for the first time less than two weeks ago, we worked as a well-oiled machine, each of us looking after each other and stepping in to pick up the slack whenever needed. In almost every city including this one, the children were so eager to learn – Juan always offered to work even longer hours to give more time to the kids. Prior to our departure one of the youngest clarinet students reminded Elizandro he said he would play a solo for them. He kept his promise and we even delayed our departure so that he could fix her clarinet. Throughout the tour I had the pleasure of observing these and many more acts of kindness.

Tiffany: I was awestruck by the stories of the students learning so much, but still having a lack of resources. Although SINEM is a government-funded program, we learned that there is still scarcity of music, instruments, and proper supplies. The students approach music with such passion that these issues were merely hurdles, which they faced fearlessly in their journey through music. We all had the privilege of witnessing that SINEM creates a home, a community, and a family for the students and families, and we were so wonderfully welcomed to this community. Every program possessed a strong culture of support between fellow students. The older students mentor and teach the younger students, and you can see clearly that this helps the older students gain responsibility, leadership, and maturity. There’s a culture of encouragement and collaboration in SINEM, that should be present throughout the worldwide musical community. For me, this entire experience reaffirmed that we can all connect through music, and it is our responsibility as performers to contribute this to our communities.

Danielle: On arrival to this beautiful country, our first stop was San Ramon, Elizandro’s hometown. Irene and Brittany (my host mother and daughter) met me at the school, and wow! what an impression they made. The first thing Irene told me was, “Yo soy tu madre!” She was bounding with energy and excitement and ready to take me to town and show me the festivities of San Ramon. When we arrived at her home, she quickly made me something delicious to eat with coffee… she took me to a fabric store and had me pick out some fabric and made me a beautiful dress so that I could wear it to the beach the next day. I was blown away by the generosity and love this family showed me after only knowing me for a few short days. It reminded me of the experience I had when I first moved to Spain, not knowing the language or culture. Having the opportunity to meet really genuine and sweet people who open their homes to me is something very special.

Juan: It has been five years since I have been back to visit my home country of Venezuela where I started my musical studies through the internationally renowned “El Sistema” program… seeing the landscape, being temporarily adopted by families and eating homemade food every day was like being back in Venezuela… Costa Rica confirmed once again that I always have the power to change lives with my violin in one way or another. The best example has been the comment that one our students wrote on facebook: “…you have returned the inspiration I needed for the violin and life in general…” I think that in only 10 days we have reached so many people that took something from interacting with us not just musically, but culturally and personally. Regardless of whether or not they pursue music full time, I hope that the experience Sound Impact brought these students will be a memorable one, not just musically.

Elizandro: One of the primary objectives of this trip was to bring forth the importance of music to make a positive change in the world, as well as show how music can be instrumental in developing stronger ties of friendship and solidarity between people. I want to highlight the beautiful gesture of the young students at Sinem Liberia. They organized a farewell for us, and offered token of appreciation by performing Costa Rican folk music. Costa Rican folk music, called “simarrona”, is used for entertainment and to celebrate special occasions in Costa Rican culture. These and many more events made this trip unforgettable and it surpassed all expectations we had for this cultural exchange. We will forever be grateful for this experience. Viva Costa Rica!

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