Founded in February 2007 • Located in El Tejar, Guatemala
165 preschool to middle school youth served annually
”The music program makes a profound impact on these children's lives. Coming to school a couple hours a day to play music is what these children look forward too. And parents donated whatever possible to make this happen! Now that is inspiration!” -Celeste Dunn, LI Ambassador
“The children have really been able to develop pride in themselves, pride in their culture, pride in their community." -Dr. Jon Van Keppel, Guatemala Country Director for Child Aid
LEAF International works with Child Aid and the CEDIN School in Gautemala, a FUNDIT-sponsored Montessori preschool. Through this project, an extra-curricular music program meets at the CEDIN School, who allow LEAF International to use their space after school. 15 classes are offered each week that immerse students in their own cultural traditions and empower them to pursue their talents. The music teachers work with around 105 preschool students and 55 primary and middle school students. Students are introduced to rhythm, music theory, singing, musical instruments, and dance. LEAF International funds the music teachers' salaries and local instruments made by local artists.In 2012, a group of young musicians from this program, ages 11 to 18, left their village in Guatemala for the first time to give an inspiring performance at the Fall LEAF festival. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to read more about this life-changing visit!
Through the project, students gain:
- Classes in Marimba, Guatemala’s national instrument, Mandolin, Keyboard, Recorder and Guitar
- Percussion Skills
- Orchestra & Choir ensemble practice, learning how to play in a group
- Regular performance opportunities at village concerts and regional competitions
Meet the Teaching Artists
Sara Morales and Estephany Munoz Ajqui (assistant) are both trained music teachers (a rarity in Guatemalan schools). Estephany, a former CEDIN student, recently graduated from San Carlos University with a degree in music instruction.
Watch the students in action:
LI Guatemala youth open many hearts on journey to LEAF
BLACK MOUNTAIN - When they arrived in the United States in October, leaving their small Guatemalan village for the first time, the musicians with Las Estrellas Musicales de el Tejar wanted to know everything about this country, about our food and our music—and also something very, very basic: our clothes.
Their group was composed of four adults, plus three boys and five girls, ages 11 to 18. They came to this country—specifically for fall LEAF 2012—as part of a music program that started in 2007 as a partnership between the non-profit organization directed by singer-songwriter David LaMotte called PEG Partners, Child Aid and LEAF International.
Shortly after they arrived in Raleigh, they were met by Sarah Hipp, a LEAFer who helped set up the Guatemala program and who also hosted them during the visit. At the airport, they packed the van full, mostly with instruments—mandolins guitars, bongos and congas, recorders and marimbas, the signature instrument of Guatemalan music.
“I’m so glad their first experience of America is LEAF,” he said from the Lakeside stage before they performed traditional songs, as well as a crowd-friendly rendition of “La Bamba.”
As they performed, several people in the audience wept, cheering through tears.
No matter where they were, they were constantly singing and sharing their culture through music.
"Marching bands are a culturally significant part of the frequent parades in Guatemala, but poor children rarely get to participate, as their schools can’t afford the instruments or music teachers. LEAF and PEG created a band for poor Maya children in El Tejar.” -PEG Partners