The children of Cuba attend official state schools where there is no music in the elementary curriculum. The best opportunity that children have to learn music is either through non-state conservatories fashioned after the Russian model or through evangelical churches.
At the request of Sr. Elio Mora, Director of the Eastern Baptist Convention of Cuba, we were invited to conduct a weeklong music camp for children, ages 8-14, this past May. The camp was attended by fifty-five children from ten Baptist churches in and around Banes, Cuba at a centrally located church, La Iglesia Bautista de la Única Esperanza.
The four person leadership team consisted of Professor Bert Wallace, myself and two of my music education students from the Campbell University, Keitland and Isabella. I taught the music portion of the camp, Professor Wallace taught Bible study and drama, and the students assisted us both. The four of us were able to bring a number of musical instruments and teaching materials in our luggage including several glockenspiels, one octave of bass boom tubes, three octaves of hand chimes, various percussion instruments, 65 Kingsley Recorders and a Be a Recorder Star Method Book for each child.
The children were phenomenal learners! Although very inexperienced, they were extremely gifted musically and quickly learned notation. Within one week, they learned several choir anthems, a number of choir chime arrangements and all the notation (pitch, rhythm and expression) in the Be a Recorder Star Method Book. The week culminated with a concert for the host church and the parents of the children. The finale was Excerpt From Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven. The parents were amazed at the progress the children had made in such a short amount of time.
The children were highly appreciative of the recorders they received. I have heard from several of the pastors of the participating churches in recent weeks, and they were happy to report that the children are singing their songs and playing their recorders in the music ministry of their respective churches. We are happy that the team has been invited back for summer 2019 to conduct another music camp in Baracoa, Cuba.
On behalf of the leadership team and the churches of Cuba, we appreciate the generosity of Macie Publishing for their contribution to the advancement of music education among these children.
Ran Whitley, DM, PhD
Professor of Music Education
Buies Creek, NC