mima magazine february 2011

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




    FEBRUARY 2011





    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.

    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.

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  • INTERVIEW BY NELSON RODRIGUEZ Project coordinator FUSALMO, El Salvador

    5 words to describe this experience:Innovative, fun, educational, effective, great

    What was your favorite part of the two weeks?The playful, dynamic improvisation exercises and learning at all times.

    Was there a time or exercise that was particularly memorable?Songwriting and then the video production.

    What would you have liked to do more?Learn more about the MIMA Method.

    What part of this week was the least interesting and / or constructive?Nothing. Everything was very interesting.

    How did you hear about MIMA?Through the US Embassy in my country, El Salvador.

    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.


    BY MARTI ESTELL Public Affairs Officer US Embassy San Salvador

    What type of educational or cultural activity was this?Arts/Culture

    Educational or Cultural Activity Format: Leadership Training

    Primary Theme(s)Strategic: Reaching New and Youth Audiences with New Media

    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.

    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.


    An original MIMA songComposed and playedby the students of FUSALMO

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    Xiomara sang,but her parents wouldnt let her.She arrived in a magical world,

    singing and dreaming,in search of a friend.

    The only thing she found wasa lot of chaos and some gnomes.

    And the chorus of gnomes told her;

    Kiwi kiwi kiwiBunny bunny bunny

    Tiki tiki tikiMango mango

    Chivo chivo chivoJuela juela juelaDale dale daleChula chula

    The gnomes sang.Xiomara listened.And so they said

    what they told her before.

    Frustrated and angry,searching for a way out,

    desperate, this is what she said to them;

    Why dont they speak like me?Im feeling confused!

    Why doesnt anybody understand me?This world is in reverse!

    The rain is falling upwards,Im feeling adrift!

    Understood, I understood my world!Understood, I understood my world!

  • 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.


    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

    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.

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  • INSPIRATION: A ProcessCultural Envoy Report by Jonathan Barnes

    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.

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    Over the course of two days, each student recorded his or her part individually, with backing

    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.

    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.

    The process of creation and recording is an essential experience that we want to give all of our students, regardless of their musical aptitude.


    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

    of the Northwestern University Theater Pr