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Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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Halfway through watching a YouTube video about destitute section of Paraguay building functional instruments with trash, my eyes started to well with tears of appreciation. I found this to be a vital concept because it really should not matter where you live or how poor you are exposure to music programs is necessary not only for our cerebellum but also for our pure raw essence…

Everyone knows of my profound OBSESSION for writing, music and instruments, which lead to receiving an email with a YouTube attachment. Half way through, my eyes started to well with tears of appreciation, what I saw was a poverty-riddled section ofParaguaybuilding functional instruments with trash. I found this to be a vital concept because it really should not matter where you live or how poor you are exposure to music programs is necessary not only for our cerebellum but also for our pure raw essence…

When I think of the concept of music, lessons, singers, songwriters, instruments I feel genuinely that all of that knowledge and exposure should be something every individual globally from land to land should relish in as well. Especially musicality programs for children regardless of their socio-economic background. It is outrageous that Art & Music programs are consistently slashed all overNorth America. Tragic to think about not being exposed to an instrument, at some point in your life I find even more offensive.

When one plays or is taught to properly utilize melodic vessel, they are not just learning a new skill but a language consumed with technique in addition to emotion. I could sit here and list the benefits of these types of programs for the rest of my natural born life with a pinch more complaining in the afterlife. Artisanal melodies are immensely integral to our own human growth and development!

Assess the resources around you

We have polluted our earth to the point that there are plots that occupy nothing but garbage in landfills throughout the globe.  In one of the most poverty-stricken areas of Cateura,Paraguay, someone else’s trash really does become another’s treasure. Nevertheless, not in the way that one might think.  When I speak of treasures, I do not mean of a fancy end table or chair that requires a little bit of work. I am speaking of; oil drums, water pipes, cutlery, packing crates, beef tenderizer, gnocchi maker, buttons and keys.

Yes, I agree, that it might be a bit of a stretch to see how these simple everyday items tossed in the trash by some without a care in the world to riddle yet another massively insane heap of counterproductive rubbish. However, in this instance, these are the simple fractures utilized to design brilliant harmonic jewels.

“Is your instrument ‘rubbish’?”

When the idea of building an instrument comes up, I automatically begin to focus on the space in which wood is cut and shaped or metal soldered together. The space is normally clean and dust free to ensure the instrument is built in a proper environment with gloves to protect the final product with, every single tool and pre-cut material at the ready for simple (well in relative terms) assembly.

Now, shall we compare what it would be like for someone to do the very same thing in a poverty-stricken community? Since we have the ingredients, well, components really of those simple items mentioned above, this is what we are going to do with them — construct!

We are going to build within our minds eye various instruments, how about we start with one of my favourites that I never learned to play but always dreamed of the violin. Would you believe that a violin made with a large shaped metal tin and a piece of discarded wood carved to create the neck, scroll & pegbox or a cello with the body of a large oil-drum, guitar that houses two large metal cans instead of one large pear frame, flute or clarinet with water-pipes, buttons, coins and keys.

Barefoot lessons

One might ask, why go to all this trouble these children do not have a future anyways living where they are. This is where I go back to the first few paragraphs where I said “…sit here and list the benefits of these types of programs…” the entire purpose that grew to eventually be “The Landfill Harmonic” clearly illustrates the perfect example of you do not have to come from a well to do family to play music or for that sake just because you live in an impoverished country does not mean you should not have exposure to music. This initiative started with Luis Szarán (, a Paraguayan: musician, orchestra director, composer and researcher. Luis wanted and succeeded in bringing the extra-ordinary gift of music to some of the poorest corners ofParaguaythis was a long and arduous task but he never gave up and what happened next would move anyone to tears.

Music and writing have changed my life in ways I could not even begin to imagine — the quests some individuals on this earth occupy are immense ones indeed. Next time you pick up your guitar, violin, cello, clarinet or flute please be appreciative for the sensational instrument you have in front of you regardless of whose hands it is produced by.

For more information on check out The Landfill Harmonic and their continuing journey…







 This article was written by Rania M M Watts – you can also read here personal blog here!

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