MIMA Magazine February 2011

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Featuring MIMA's report from its El Salvador Cultural Envoy program.


<ul><li><p>WE LOVE TO IMPROVISE</p><p>magazine</p><p>FEBRUARY 2011</p><p> EL SALVADOR</p><p>CULTURAL ENVOY REP</p><p>ORT</p></li><li><p>MISSION IMPACT</p><p>CHALLENGEDespite surviving a brutal civil war and hav-ing made a successful transition to democracy, the Salvadoran people face unprecedented lev-els of violence and rampant poverty. Arts educa-tion has fallen to the bottom of the priority scale. </p><p>STRATEGYMIMA led a 2-week songwriting program to build community, social cohesion and self-esteem among youth in which group music-making doubled as lead-ership training for local music teachers. An original music video was produced.</p><p>EL S</p><p>ALV</p><p>AD</p><p>OR</p></li><li><p>INTERVIEW BY NELSON RODRIGUEZ Project coordinator FUSALMO, El Salvador </p><p> 5 words to describe this experience:Innovative, fun, educational, effective, great</p><p>What was your favorite part of the two weeks?The playful, dynamic improvisation exercises and learning at all times.</p><p>Was there a time or exercise that was particularly memorable?Songwriting and then the video production.</p><p>What would you have liked to do more?Learn more about the MIMA Method.</p><p>What part of this week was the least interesting and / or constructive?Nothing. Everything was very interesting.</p><p>How did you hear about MIMA?Through the US Embassy in my country, El Salvador.</p><p>Additional thoughts, suggestions or questions about your experience with MIMA?Maybe it would be important for the children and youth in the program to feel more empowered through the program by doing more work at home, thereby encouraging their participation. Another thing that would be im-portant to include in the future program is a budget for promotional print-outs about MIMA, instruments, T-shirts, hats or similar objects. The web-site should offer a forum like a MIMA Club for boys and girls to exchange their experiences and their ideas about music and art. Personally, Im very interested in making an affiliation in El Salvador to help me offer more programs in El Salvador that focus on social inclusion, development, edu-cation, arts and recreation for for youth in El Salvador, which are funded by government, NGOs, foundations and others.</p><p>REVIEW </p><p>BY MARTI ESTELL Public Affairs Officer US Embassy San Salvador</p><p>What type of educational or cultural activity was this?Arts/Culture</p><p>Educational or Cultural Activity Format: Leadership Training</p><p>Primary Theme(s)Strategic: Reaching New and Youth Audiences with New Media</p><p>Activity DescriptionThis ECA Cultural Envoy Project for at-risk youth and their music educators was sponsored by PAS and several local partners, particularly Fundacin Salvador del Mundo (FUSALMO), and was carried out by four instructors from the US NGO MIMA Music. The program consisted of a 2-week Music Education Workshop for children and a 2-week Leadership Workshop for educators and young leaders, as well as a four 2-hour inspire sessions in communities facing high levels of violence. In total, 150 children and young adults ages 7 to 25 participated. A show was arranged for the participants in the Music Education Workshop to debut the original song they produced over the course of the workshop before an eager audience of parents, fam-ily, teachers and media. </p><p>Activity SignificanceThis activity reached out to the target audience of youth and future lead-ers of El Salvador, promoting Mission Goal of Improving Public Security by involving at-risk youth in healthy activities through the arts. The programs 2-prong approach of working directly with children, but also with youth leaders was chosen to use music as a means of promoting self-esteem and creating a sense of community among at-risk youth, while also provid-ing the tools to their adult leaders to ensure sustainability of the program goals. The project also encouraged musical creativity, risk taking, self-dis-covery and an appreciation for American culture, while also promoting a positive image of the US.</p></li><li><p>KIWI KIWI MUSIC VIDEO</p><p>An original MIMA songComposed and playedby the students of FUSALMO</p><p>EL S</p><p>ALV</p><p>AD</p><p>OR</p><p>Xiomara sang,but her parents wouldnt let her.She arrived in a magical world,</p><p>singing and dreaming,in search of a friend.</p><p>The only thing she found wasa lot of chaos and some gnomes.</p><p>And the chorus of gnomes told her;</p><p>Kiwi kiwi kiwiBunny bunny bunny</p><p>Tiki tiki tikiMango mango</p><p>Chivo chivo chivoJuela juela juelaDale dale daleChula chula</p><p>The gnomes sang.Xiomara listened.And so they said</p><p>what they told her before.</p><p>Frustrated and angry,searching for a way out,</p><p>desperate, this is what she said to them;</p><p>Why dont they speak like me?Im feeling confused!</p><p>Why doesnt anybody understand me?This world is in reverse!</p><p>The rain is falling upwards,Im feeling adrift!</p><p>Understood, I understood my world!Understood, I understood my world!</p></li><li><p>Top row: Cultural affairs assistant Veronica Vsquez briefs the MIMA team; Kevin Wenzel facilitates a breathing exercise; Magali and Jonathan exchange musical ideas; Middle row: Nelson practices his violin; MIMAs first songwriting brainstorm in El Salvador; FUSALMO students practice harmonization with Alan Gaskill; Bottom row: Roberto records his drum track; Jonathan Barnes teaches Carlos and Carlos to record each other; the FUSALMO students receive their MIMA certificates.</p></li><li><p>JONATHAN CULTURAL ENVOY</p><p>Jonathan Barnes is a founding trustee of MIMA Music, Inc. and oversees the daily operations of the organiza-tion as its Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. A graduate of Stanford Law School (J.D. 2007) and Princ-eton University (A.B. Philosophy 2003), Jonathan has </p><p>also worked as an associate for the Boston Consulting Group in New York City. Jonathan plays guitar and piano, and DJs. Jonathan has managed MIMA projects in Brazil, El Salvador, England and the USA. </p><p>EL S</p><p>ALV</p><p>AD</p><p>OR</p></li><li><p>INSPIRATION: A ProcessCultural Envoy Report by Jonathan Barnes</p><p> In this report, I will focus on the topic of inspiration, because it is the element of a MIMA program that we try to sustain through every mo-ment that we are together, and even beyond the programs conclusion. For many people, beautiful moments of inspiration come all too infrequently, and are easy to forget. One of our primary goals in El Salvador was to bring lasting moments of in-spiration to the students, by showing it, teaching it, encouraging it and giving them a foundation to recreate it beyond our departure.</p><p> In MIMA programs like the one we com-pleted in El Salvador, the process is as important as the final product. One of the products of the program is an original song in the form of an audio recording, a music video and a final live perfor-mance. We divide the process into four phases: inspire, transform, create and celebrate. A good celebration is inspiring, starting the process over again as we witnessed during the students final performance at FUSALMO. This cyclical and self-perpetuating relationship between celebration and inspiration is the root of the MIMA Method.</p><p> We spent the first half of the program fo-cused purely on inspiration: playing improvisa-tional games and teaching classic MIMA musical exercises in order to get everyone comfortable </p><p>with expressing themselves, being in the moment, listening to one another, reacting and feeding off each others creative energy. Only by the start of the second week did we begin to create the original song, which was our intention. On the second Monday and Tuesday the students wrote the song, and on Wednesday and Thursday they recorded it.</p><p> The process of creation and recording is an essential experience that we want to give all of our students, regardless of their musical aptitude. Recording is a creative process and a transforma-tive experience: the song evolves during record-ing and so does the musician. Recording can be intimidating, and like any new skill set, uncom-fortable at first. But it becomes exhilarating and empowering for the musician when she hears her own contribution played back to her and realizes that it plays a valuable role in the groups compo-sition.</p><p> Over the course of two days, each student recorded his or her part individually, with backing </p><p>tracks playing in headphones. We set up a make-shift studio space at FUSALMO, to give the stu-dents the experience of recording like professional musicians, in a studio with a professional engi-neer. The students learned that in the world of audio recording, you dont hear the final product until after the engineers have edited and mixed the tracks together into a complete song, which involves post-production time after the musicians leave the studio. We asked our students if they had ever recorded before; they all said no. That made it all the more gratifying to give them this experience.</p><p> January 18, 2011 marks the online debut of our recording. It will be a moment of celebration, much like the final public performance of the song at FUSALMO a month earlier. The entire process has become the inspiration and foundation of the larger idea of creating a lasting MIMA program in the community: the process of growing our stu-dents into confident, fulfilled and inspired com-munity leaders.</p><p>The process of creation and recording is an essential experience that we want to give all of our students, regardless of their musical aptitude. </p></li><li><p>ALAN CULTURAL ENVOY</p><p>Alan Gaskill specializes in arts education, employing theater, music, martial arts and dance to help others de-velop their inborn creative powers. Over the last 5 years Alan has directed social outreach programs for MIMA in the US, Brazil, China, and El Salvador. Alan is a graduate </p><p>of the Northwestern University Theater Program (B.S. 2004) and the Inter-University Program for Chinese Lan-guage studies in Beijing, China. In addition English, Alan speaks and teaches in Mandarin and Portuguese. </p><p>EL S</p><p>ALV</p><p>AD</p><p>OR</p></li><li><p>TRANSFORMATION: A collaborative journeyCultural Envoy Report by Alan Gaskill</p><p> Public Affairs Officer Marti Estell states that the purpose of the Cultural Envoy program in El Salvador is to connect Americans and El Sal-vadoreans. Under the auspices of this spacious charter, something very specific took place during the MIMA program: we transformed each other. We gauged the transformation by comparing the class on day one with day fourteen. I will explore the changes undergone by the participants in our </p><p>younger students class, our adolescent/adult class and in ourselves.</p><p> The experience of a MIMA class is ab-sorbed into the complex, hidden and near-magical process of a young students mental, emotional and spiritual development. We cant immediately quantify how the experience has affected the stu-dents in the kids class, and how it will play into their human development. In order to ensure that we left a good impression we brought a lot of pa-tience, love and variety to bear upon the musical learning process. </p><p> There were some very pronounced, observ-able changes in the children over the course of two weeks: they began shy, and ended engaged. We sang together, played comical games, learned rhythms, learned to improvise and passed through the experience of rehearsing and publicly perform-ing a prepared body of music. All the while, they remained attentive, respectful and interested in what we were doing and it was predicated on the fact that as the days went by, they be-came comfortable with us, and by the time the first week was over we had created our own little community. In the course of the two weeks, the kids overcame their hesitation and reserve about performing, participating in exercises and making their voices heard during improvisational exer-cises. They revealed themselves to be joyful and enthusiastic.</p><p> At the end of the two weeks, the adoles-cent/adult class become a functional performing ensemble. Deeply connected after having partici-</p><p>pated in numerous musical and improvisational activities, they wrote, rehearsed, recorded and per-formed an original song together before a camera for a music video. The learning process occurred as students agonized through chord changes, tried to find the right lyrics, learned dance moves and col-laborated with one another on entire sections of song. They took it upon themselves to teach each other to deal with stage fright and the unease of standing before a camera and a microphone. In short, they demonstrated the important commit-ment of an ensemble to each other, which forti-fied their relationship to each other as members of the same community. </p><p> From an organizational and personal per-spective, the opportunity to apply our exercises to students of all age groups has been immensely valuable. Additionally, the benefit of working with a new culture cannot be over-emphasized. I ar-rived in El Salvador half-expecting another Brazil, and was somewhat surprised when our students turned out to be conservative, polite, shy and soft-spoken. In the crucible of the two weeks, and working within a new culture, I discerned that the MIMA Method is universally applicable; it can be recalibrated and adjusted according to the needs of any culture, age group or environmental con-text. This is testament to the fact that the MIMA Method is nothing new at all, but a replay on the most ancient human social instinct of banding in-dividuals together through music and dance. The State Department, the Public Affairs Office of the US Embassy of El Salvador and the Ambassador gifted us with this fabulous opportunity to sharp-en our skills in the field, accrue more experience, hone our teaching method still further, experi-ment with new approaches to media and leave a positive impact on a Salvadorean community.</p><p>There were some very pronounced, ob-servable changes in the children over the course of two weeks: they began shy, and ended engaged.</p></li><li><p>KEVIN CULTURAL ENVOY</p><p>Kevin Wenzel specializes in adolescent and adult music education. As the music director of the Cristo Rey High School in New York, Kevin launched the schools music program in 2009 using the MIMA Method in nine differ-ent classes. He plays bluegrass on the mandolin, along-</p><p>side jazz piano and accordion. A graduate of the Univer-sity of St. Louis in Sociology, Spanish and International Studies (B.A. 2006), Kevin has participated in MIMA productions in Argentina, Brazil, England and the USA. Kevin speaks fluent Spanish.</p><p>EL S</p><p>ALV</p><p>AD</p><p>OR</p></li><li><p>CREATION: SongwritingCultural Envoy Report by Kevin Wenzel </p><p> Every time I stand in front of a group of students no matter what age and explain that they will write a new song about anything, in any style they want and with whatever instru-ments they want, I am greeted with the same re-action: a blank stare. In this report I will explain why songwriting is a daunting task for students and teachers alike, but it is a task that everyone can get excited about, participate in and take ownership of.</p><p> The songwriting process begins by con-structing a group conciousness. Many of the tech-niques we used in the inspire and transform stage of the MIMA Method are designed to lead participants to this phase of collective conscious-ness. One of the most effective ways of finding out about how the gro...</p></li></ul>