Berklee today

OCT 2015

Berklee today is the official alumni publication of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a forum for contemporary music and musicians.

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24 Berklee today Toward the Future ACR has great interest in the healing power of music. During our visit, Edwin Moreno Lozano, an ACR case worker, brought us to the mean streets of South Ibagué. There, Lozano serves 250 re-entrants living in a place where deadly violence is rou- tine. He introduces us to three altruistic and fearless young men who are part of "La Eskina del Barrio" ("The Corner of the Neighborhood"), a pioneering hip-hop initiative that offers positive alternatives for local adolescents who feel hopeless. La Eskina works out of a tiny basement recording studio in a small brick house fortifed with steel bars covering every door and window. Roa translates as the group's leader Mauricio Rodriguez, de- scribes their outreach. He speaks of how La Eskina's uses the ap- peal of hip-hop culture (music, dance, and graffti), to produce live music and dance concerts, videos, songwriting and produc- tion workshops, and support graffti artists who paint upbeat messages around the neighborhood. Their mission is a grass- roots effort to transform their neighborhood by turning young men away from the pervasive culture of violent crime and drugs and young women away from prostitution. Their efforts have resonated deeply with many thousands of young people. (Visit for a short video presentation about La Eskina del Barrio.) Back at ACR, Diego Julián Navas, a program director, tells Wacks of his optimism that MT can help with treatment of PTSD and mental illness. He is interested in having ACR's staff of care- givers learn the methodologies Berklee has developed. He also hopes that MT will beneft ACR's caregivers who may become overwhelmed with the magnitude of the task before them. Canaries in the Coalmine Wacks hopes that the work begun in Colombia can serve as a model that can be replicated globally. She foresees oppor- tunities for Berklee students to learn to provide culturally appropriate care and understand culturally infuenced health behaviors and how MT can help. Villa and Roa were the proverbial canaries in the coalmine during this feld study about the possibilities of MT and Berklee's future involvement in Colombian reintegration work. They took up the task enthusiastically, given their Colombian roots and hunger for practical experience as ther- apists. In addition to having music and MT skills, this work re- quires that a person be compassionate and outgoing. Both Roa and Villa possess these qualities in abundance. Roa was born in Colombia and lived in the country until age fve. His family then moved about between London, Miami, and New Jersey before returning to Colombia during his early teen years. Consequently, he speaks Spanish and English with no dis- cernable accent in either tongue. His skill as a translator was in- valuable during the meetings Wacks and Link held with ACR representatives and in countless other interactions in Ibagué and Bogotá. He is pursuing a double major at Berklee in MT and Music Business/Management. "I've always been around music," he says. "My mom played guitar and sang folkloric songs and she started me out with piano and singing lessons. But when my father took up drum- ming, I sat in on his lessons and quickly turned to the drumset." While living in New Jersey, Roa played in his school's orchestra, jazz band, and percussion ensemble and felt fully at home in American culture. "When I moved back to Colombia at 13, my heritage was here but my mind was somewhere else," he says. "Through drumming, I met some of my best friends in Colombia. We had a band and played songs by Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand. That helped me know who I was. "At Berkee, I am a drum principal, so hand percussion is a big tool for me in music therapy. I am involved in other projects, but what really motivates me is what we've done during this [project in Ibagué]. I think my musical involvement in the future will be in providing music as a service through music therapy. I see myself going to the feld, evaluating, and doing research for music therapy." Villa is the eldest of three daughters. Her father, a psychi- atrist and mother, a psychologist, raised the family in Bogotá. "My father plays guitar and sings and my grandfather was an opera singer," Villa tells me. "So I was surrounded by music as a child." At 12, she began music and dance lessons and later joined a Bogotá music theater company where she learned to integrate dancing, acting, and singing. Coincidentally, she frst met Roa there when both were participating in a musical production. "Music has been my strength throughout my life, so I knew I wanted to be a musician. My piano teacher encouraged me to audition for Berklee. I was accepted and started in the summer of 2013." Owing to her parents being professional counselors and her dedication to music, majoring in MT—once she became aware of it at Berklee—was a natural. She's pursuing a double major in performance and MT. "I am primarily a Latin singer and really enjoy performing," she says. "I am trying to fnd a way to balance both music therapy and performance. I see both of them in my future. After graduating I'd like to come back to Colombia. Music therapy doesn't [yet] have the power here that it has in the United States. I want to see it grow here—the country really needs it. If I could be part of that initiative, it would be great." Left to right: Camilo Sanabria, Oscar Rivera, and Mauricio Rodriguez, founders of la Eskina del Barrio EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING South Ibagué, Colombia Esteban Roa and Ana Maria Villa Mark Small Mark Small Mark Small

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