Feb. 17th, 2016
Albena Lake Hodge Secondary School
Anguilla, BWI

Last month, 25 students at the Albena Lake Hodge Secondary School in Anguilla spent the morning with Paolo Heman, PFC musician and renowned percussionist who hails from Bahia, Brazil. Paolo introduced the students to traditional Brazilian rhythms and together this new ensemble of percussionists demonstrated how music connects people in a moment even if they don’t speak the same language or have come from different parts of the world.

Music is a core part of the curriculum in Anguilla. Students receive four years of compulsory music education, learning multiple instruments including the traditional steel pan. Through our translator, Rick, Paolo told the students that, unlike them, he never had the opportunity to learn music in school. Yet, he has dedicated his life to music and music education since he played his first drum at age 14, having recorded with some of the greatest artists in Brazil, including Elba Ramalho, Pepeu Gomes, Chico Buaque, Djavan, and others.

I shared the history of Playing For Change and how the Foundation provides music education to children who, unlike them, would not have the opportunity to learn otherwise. When asked if any of the students remember what their lives were like before they had music versus now when they know how to play many instruments, one young man responded: “I’m not good at school and I’m not a great athlete. I didn’t feel that I was good at anything before I had the music. Now I know I can do this well and I feel good about myself. I can play the guitar and drums and steel pan.”

Our thanks go out to long-time supporter and Playing For Change Foundation family member, Judi Hunt, for creating this opportunity for a wonderful morning of music, learning, and cross-cultural exchange.

The students were invited to join Paolo and other members of the Playing For Change Band the next evening for a group performance. Stay tuned for more details on that incredible evening!