Families participate in making music

Take a look inside the classrooms around the Civic Auditorium across from City Hall, and you will see a lot going on. And you will hear a lot going on, too.

The Auditorium is home to Direction Arte y Cultura. That is the city department that offers ballet classes, organizes festivals, teaches language courses in English and French, among many other things.

The building is known as Casa de Juarez. It is designed as a replica of the home associated with Mexican President Benito Juarez. Small rooms with heavy wooden doors line a courtyard here.

Poke your head inside one room, and students are learning Classical Guitar. In another, a young horn section is working the theme to the Pink Panther. The newly built classroom building next door is in complete contrast, being modern with large glass walls. Inside, a group of little girls in grass skirts learn the finer points of Hawaiian dance.

It’s graduation time around Rocky Point. Students of all kinds are starting Summer vacation. This past Sunday, the Escuela Municipal de Musica put on it’s big semester ending concert in the auditorium.

Family and friends packed the place, as the school’s Concert Band performed Light Classics, Mexican Boleros, and yes, the Pink Panther were on the bill. The night included solo performances by students as well. Many budding pianists, singers, and violinists got an opportunity to shine.

In among the children on stage were a number of grownups too. “They are the Moms” says Nacho Ortega, who teaches bass and cello. “At first, they just waited around for their children to finish their lessons. Little by little they got excited by the music, and now some of them participate by playing congas, bass…They really want to be a part of this.”

A little help from the Doctor

A very special part of the evening came when musical instruments were presented to the School.

The project to get more instruments into the hands of kids who want to make music a part of their life, was the brain child of William ‘Doc’ Jones. A music educator and performer, Doc successfully brought the United Nations affiliated International Jazz Day Celebration to Rocky Point this past April.

Along with two nights of great music on the Malecon from Doc, Nayo Jones, Carlos Rivas, and a number of local artists, an agreement was made to support local music education.

Doc Jones, through the International Jazz Day Foundation, has worked to bring instruments to supplement the local music program here in Rocky Point. The first installment sees flutes, trombones, trumpets and more from donors.

Working to represent the Mayor’s Office on this project was Maria Conchita Peralta. Her job is to create linkages culturally, socially, and artistically between Rocky Point and other cities, other countries. She was on hand to coordinate the presentation of the instruments.

Also there was Nina Mier, the Director of the Department of Art and Culture. Together, they received the instruments from the local representative of the International Jazz Day Foundation, Rick Nichols. Rick is the proprietor of the Satisfied Frog Restaurant.

“When Doc first met with Mayor ‘Kiko’ Munro, one of the things he promised to accomplish was the delivery of these musical instruments” said Rick. “There will be more to come. The Foundation also plans to offer educational assistance to the fine teachers involved in this music program.”

Jazz, making music, and more to come.

Plans are underway to have a Jazz and Arts Summit next Spring in Rocky Point. This would bring together teachers and students interested in learning more about the art and mechanics of making Jazz Music.

The International Jazz Day Celebration is also looking to return next year as well. The United Nation’s cultural arm, UNESCO, supported live performances around the globe on April 30th to honor Jazz as a unique and valuable part of the world’s cultural heritage. The highlight was a concert at the White House, hosted by President Barack Obama. Jazz luminaries performing included Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Kurt Elling, Aretha Franklin, and many more.

Puerto Peñasco’s performance was one of many in Mexico. Crowds filled the Malecon to listen, dance, and enjoy the near perfect weather. Vendors, visual artists, street food and more made the night distinctly ‘Rocky Point’.

Home town Jazz legend Armando ‘Kennedy’ Noriega sat in with Doc’s hand-picked New Orleans flavored group. Mr. Noriega is known as one of the best Jazz artists that Mexico has produced. His appearance, and the crowds’ appreciation, really brought home just how universal the music is.

The Latin Jazz of Phoenix’s Carlos Rivas brought many ‘salseros’ out of their seats to dance. Vocalist Nayo Jones was a festival highlight, engaging the audience with her charismatic stage presence, and her powerful, subtle and commanding voice. She is Doc’s daughter, and has established herself as a musical presence through touring, and as part of the New Orleans Jazz scene.

As the last notes of the night’s music subsided at the Civic Auditorium, students and their parents lined up to hug, and take photos with German Esquer. He is the director of the music program, and is there to conduct, play piano, and sing along with the chorus. There is a true affection between the students and their ‘maestro’. You get a real sense of appreciation for all of the hard work he, and the other instructors put in.

What’s next?

Summer is here, so the program shuts down till the Fall. But when it resumes, there will be more instruments in the hands of kids who have caught the ‘music bug’. The prospect of more training, and instruments coming to town is exciting for the kids in the city’s music program.

Find out more about International Jazz Day at JazzDay.com Got a banjo sitting in your closet from Junior High? You might like to consider supporting a new generation looking for good ways to spend their time. To donate an instrument, contact Doc Jones at wijo2341@AOL.com or Rick Nichols at nicholsvideo@gmail.com

Richard Scott / U.S. (480) 359 4601 / Mexico (638) 107 0208