"I believe that every good teacher is a natural communicator on a lifetime learning curve."
I live and work in the beautiful colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, nestled in the mountains of Guanajuato State, Mexico. The Rhythm, Rhyme and Reason Music Education Outreach program began in the US with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, awarded to me as Project Director through the Centannial Arts Center in Nashville Tennessee. "RR&R" continues in Mexico with great success in central and rural Mexican primary schools. The program is free and expanding rapidly, with over 800 students in 6 schools and more locations to be added as our vision and resources permit.
The video display on our Texas Heritage Music Association Fundraiser page features a concert by 25 of our talented kids during Mexico's renowned Day of the Dead celebrations in San Miguel de Allende, followed by an actual class session in progress at the Los Ricos de Abajo community and primary school! We combine native instruments from Mexico's ancient past, along with those of world cultures. The all-inclusive program explores poetry and visual arts. This unique concept has become a fluid, empowering medium that brings classrooms to exuberant life!
MY TEACHING STYLE
Mexico, its regions and native influences have added to my vision of teaching and program development. I'm constantly having to design fresh approaches that are not part of regular curriculum experience.
SHINING TEACHER MOMENT
Nothing has been more satisfying than travelling out to resource-compromised communities deep in the Mexican countryside, setting up instant classes in the local schools and opening doors of discovery for the kids!
Grants, awards and residencies include the San Miguel Community Foundation, Schreiner University, Kerrville, Texas - Liberal Arts, Texas Writers' Conference Feature Speaker 2007, University of Leon 3rd Architects' Congress Feature Speaker 2009, the John Anson Kittredge Educational Fund, San Miguel Educational Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts - Links and Circle Grants 1996-97, and PROCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) Award for "Best Vocal Work" - contemporary classical, for "The Stars Would Have Me Weep," 1987.
I've published poetry, essays and over 150 articles, many on ancient civilizations and cultures of Mexico, Central and South America. I'm the author of four books; two of poetry, one of essays on poets and recipes from around the world, and a bilingual (English and Spanish) photo documentary of my feature film "Rituales," based on four elements - water, fire, wind and earth.
MY OWN EDUCATIONAL HISTORY
I began 10 years of teaching music, art and general curriculum at the Maja Hazell Nursery School in Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada. My mother was the director and awarded Quebec Nursery School Teacher of the Year upon her retirement for her special contributions to children's education in the province.
I'm the former Director of Art (1998 - 2001) and Chairman of the Art Department of the historic Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, which has been incorporated into the University of Guanajuato since 1950.
I'm currently a Professor of Fine Arts and Academic Advisor to the Instituto's new Bachelor of Fine Arts program, which I helped to design in 2008, published by the University of Guanajuato in 2010 and just implemented this year.
In Nashville, Tennessee, I participated on the faculties of music and visual arts of the Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation. I've developed and taught programs for all ages at the Cheekwood Estate and Watkins Institute of Art and Design, as well as for education outreach.
I'm a composer of music for ensemble and solo instruments, concert and recording artist. As a painter I've had 60 international shows with works in private collections in Canada, the US, Mexico, South America and Europe.
ADDITIONAL BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
Rhythm, Rhyme and Reason is about empowerment and confidence building through project-based education. Students are encouraged to make creative decisions, and explore choices in their lives that affect many areas apart from music. I enjoyed teaching and designing programs for all ages in the US, with its energy and competitive spirit. Reaching out to Mexico's rich and diverse cultures presents an equal challenge.
I hope that the Rhythm, Rhyme and Reason's mission can resonate across borders, combining the best from these two dynamic countries, bringing fresh learning encounters to the classroom experience! I look forward to sharing, and to receiving new ideas from contributors.
About Texas Heritage Music Foundation/Rhythm Rhyme and Reason
Texas Heritage Association and I have enjoyed a fruitful collaborative partnership for more than 15 years. Its Founder and Director Kathleen Hudson and I are of one mind when it comes to our committment to education. We believe in sharing thorugh bi-cultural initiatives that can change perspectives and futures for those who need it most! Our goal through Rhythm, Rhyme and Reason is to bring hands-on encounters with creative experiences directly to Mexican schoolchildren through the universal medium of music. Taking this one step further by incorporating Mexico's ancient instruments, we can encourage these children to explore their rich native cultures, stories, myths and traditions.
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