Neurologists and education specialists have long established a physical connection between music and the brain, and now a Chilean institute is trying to use that connection to provide a new generation of underprivileged youth with the tools to make it to university and beyond.
But perhaps what is most extraordinary about the Escuela de Música Papageno Villarrica (“Papageno Music School Villarrica”) is the location – it’s based in the southern city of Villarrica and takes workshops into the remote areas of the Araucaria Region and Patagonia.
But then again maybe the most amazing part are the students. Most of them are indigenous Mapuches, few of them had ever heard of a cello before joining the school!
The school was founded a decade ago by retired Austrian opera singer Christian Boesc, who made his name as a baritone performancing in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” In retirement, Boesc moved to southern Chile and after falling in love with the area, he decided that he could make a difference in the lives of local people.
“You see, in my opinion, we live in paradise here, this part of the world is unique that we must know, and paradise without culture and without music is a mistake, and I know what music and culture gave to my life, so I have to give something back, because I was very, very lucky in my life,” Boesc told Al Jazeera English.
The idea is to use music to improve students’ learning process and help children of the area – disadvantaged by geography and social structures – compete for university scholarships; essentially to level the playing field between the haves and the have nots.
Now, what began as a philanthropic experiment, is steadily evolving into a pioneering program, reaching over 600 children and counting on the support of both the Siemens Foundation and Chile’s Universidad Católica for further expansion.
For more information, check out the Al Jazeera report embedded in this article.