This summer marked my 7th year working with the Holy Trinity Music School. Although it was one of my shortest trips to Haiti, it was filled with so many wonderful experiences. I find myself reflecting on the three weeks more and more now that my regular public school teaching job has started back up again.
One of my favorite parts of this summer was getting to work with a ginormous string orchestra, the Petite Orchestre de Chambre (POC). I have been working with this group every summer since I first came to Haiti in 2008, but this year the group topped 55 students! We barely fit in the Kindergarten space we had for rehearsal. We also had more new students than returning students. Although Haitian names can be unusual for Americans, I did my best to learn all 55 by the end of day 2. The students were so eager to play that we had no trouble getting our first week concert music together. I could hear them practicing the music all day long during their personal practice time.
We were lucky enough to have a large group of volunteers from the Youth Orchestra of the Americas come to help for 3 days during the first week. The students got so many private lessons and small group lessons it was unbelievable! Students probably had 4-5 lessons the first week alone. For the 2nd week a group of young musicians from Spain came to teach for 2 weeks as well as Canes Nicholas, a Haitian conductor and good friend. They were phenomenal teachers and gave the POC students many lessons and sectionals. This summer had the most string teachers I have ever seen in Haiti since I have been coming! Normally I end up teaching many different instrument lessons and sectionals, but this summer I was way less overloaded and it was a good thing since I ended up getting the dreaded Chickungunya disease. It was not very much fun. I had to stay in bed for the first concert and was sick for most of the 2nd week. I was so grateful when my good friend and fellow BLUME Haiti Board member Jordan King came to help out with POC rehearsals and sectionals. We have both been working with the POC for a long time and it was great to be back together teaching.
The POC put on 3 incredible concerts and I was extremely proud of all their hard work and accomplishments. Sometimes in the United States my students take music class for granted and complain (a lot) about playing their instruments. While this is not all students in the US, it is certainly the attitude of many. Working with my students in the POC reminds me that there are students who truly love music and really appreciate their ability to play an instrument. It’s not just another activity for them. My Haitian students ask for more and more lessons, not how they can get out of playing. It’s such a refreshing experience for an American teacher. I miss my POC students all the time and keep a picture of them on my desk at school to remind me why I became an orchestra teacher. I am already planning pieces of music to bring for next summer. Let the countdown begin!
Summer Music Camp Blog
Every summer members of the BLUME Haiti Board, along with volunteers from across the globe, travel to Haiti to teach at music camps organized by the CEMUCHCA, Holy Trinity, Dessaix-Baptiste, AMI, and Fondation Saint-Cecile
schools. Throughout the summer they will use this page to update us!