Cap Haitian is a city of deep history and wonderful beauty on Haiti’s northern coast. The city sits on the beautiful Caribbean sea and is surrounded by a dramatic backdrop of mountains inland. Although I had traveled to Haiti multiple times before this summer, this was my first visit to the country’s northern region and my first experience with the wonderful music school located in Cap Haitian.
The Circle of Christian Musicians of Cap-Haitian, best known by it’s creole acronym “CEMUCHCA,” has developed their school of music in a relatively short time since formally organizing in 2004. To best serve students, they developed an annual summer music camp which was in it’s forth incarnation this June. The level of progress made in all areas of the school in that time is remarkable and is testament to the sincere passion for making music of the students and staff at the school.
In each of my experiences teaching in Haiti, I have found an extraordinary passion for learning in all people, and the students at CEMUCHCA were no exception. Despite the school’s very limited resources, it was inspiring to see students make the most of every learning opportunity made available. I had the pleasure of working with a group of intermediate strings students who took great pride in our music making. When given break time, students instead took their instrument and continued to practice on their own.
Seeing this tenacity in each of my students, I took great pleasure in seeing the materials, which were generously donated by music retailers from across the US, being put in the hands of these students. The members of BLUME-Haiti are humbled by the generosity shown to support the music programs in Haiti this summer. Among the large quantity of donations this year, we were pleased to receive more than 200 bows provided by Antonio Violins (Cincinatti, Ohio), many instrument cases and accessories from The Loft Violin Shop (Columbus, Ohio), additional string instrument accessories from Johnson String Instruments (Newton Center, MA), four violins and two violas from Clemens Violins (St. Louis, MO), and two cellos from String Works (Appleton, WI). In addition, a great amount of quality sheet music was donated by J.W. Pepper (Paoli, CA), Kjos Music Company (San Diego, CA), and Yesterday Music Supply (Cambridge, MA). Having the opportunity to realize the benefit of these donations by putting them in the hands of students in Haiti is an enormously gratifying experience.
Every summer I reflect on my trip to Haiti and realize that I have learned more than I could have possibly taught my students in the time I was there. Haiti’s passionate people and vibrant culture are unlike any other I have experienced. I return to the US as an educator with a heightened worldview, reenergized passion for teaching, and an obligation to make the most of any opportunity made available to me.
Board Member, BLUME-Haiti
Summer Music Camp Blog