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‘You can learn many things when you explore other worlds,’ visiting musician tells students


William Guijarro, who teaches at a private music school in Ecuador, spent two weeks in Lexington -- mostly on the Tates Creek campus. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

William Guijarro, who teaches at a private music school in Ecuador, spent two weeks in Lexington — mostly on the Tates Creek campus. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)


 

By Tammy L. Lane
Special to Kyforward
 

“You feel the music, and you move your body with the music. It’s moving, moving, always moving,” visiting educator William Guijarro told the intermediate orchestra students at Tates Creek High School as he glided across the room.
 

The hour-long lesson and sharing of his native Ecuador were among numerous highlights of Guijarro’s two-week stint in Lexington, which was his first trip to the United States.
 

“All the days were very different,” he said during a break. “I’ve enjoyed working with the students, and it’s been a great experience for me. Always you have to be imaginative and creative because always you will learn something new in every place.”
 

Gay Begley, the band director at Tates Creek Middle and Tates Creek Elementary, set up the exchange after a summer trek to Ecuador with a couple colleagues in the International Baccalaureate Programme. In Ambato, Begley led several workshops on the benefits of early music education, in conjunction with the private music school Cedemusica where Guijarro teaches. Her sessions reached nearly 400 teachers and parents, with whom she shared simple techniques and activities to do with toddlers.
 

A professional cellist and bass player, Guijarro presented examples of Ecuadoran music in various settings and shared tips for enhanced technique. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

A professional cellist and bass player, Guijarro presented examples of Ecuadoran music in various settings and shared tips for enhanced technique. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

“Learning to read and perform at an early age has an impact no matter the language,” Begley said, recalling her point of emphasis. “Specifically, learning to play an instrument enlarges the areas of your brain that also do math and reading.”
 

Using the networking opportunity, she invited 23-year-old Guijarro to spend time with her own classes and others in Lexington, including guitar students at Bryan Station High School. His visit was funded through the Kentucky Ecuador Partners chapters in Lexington and Quito, Ecuador, and through Partners of the Americas in Washington, D.C.
 

A professional cellist and bass player, Guijarro presented examples of Ecuadoran music in various settings – from Humanities and Performing Arts classes and foreign language classes to larger group assemblies. He also shared videos of ceremonial tribal dances from Ecuador and Peru, attended a marching band competition, and directed string orchestral pieces with older students at Tates Creek.
 

Guijarro commended the high schoolers for choosing to play music, saying, “You can learn many things when you explore other worlds, and an instrument is another world.”
 

Observing and appreciating various teaching styles in Fayette County Public Schools was a main take-away for Guijarro, who plans to incorporate what he saw here in his private lessons. He noted, for instance, a distinct shift among middle school music teachers, who expect more focus and discipline from their charges than with younger students.
 

In comparing the cultures of Ecuador and the United States, Guijarro mentioned how music and dance and the people were more intertwined in the past. “We have ancestral music, which is very important,” Guijarro explained. “Now, music is for enjoyment.” He also emphasized that culture is far bigger than just music, according to eighth-grader Ronald Delgado, who helped with translation.
 

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Begley said Guijarro’s spending quality time in FCPS would bolster the IB program in particular.  
 

“We’re trying as hard as we can to get students to see a true global society and see outside their neighborhood,” she said, adding, “I’d really like to see them make some connections with the students in Ecuador.”
 

Knowing that Guijarro overcame personal obstacles to succeed through music would also be an inspiration, as Begley said: “No matter what your background is, you can reach whatever level you want to reach. That’s the same everywhere. And music is one of those paths, and it’s a very good one if that’s what you choose.”
 

Tammy L. Lane is communications specialist and website editor for Fayette County Public Schools.


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