Holiday Happenings

Leza Warkentin
The children and I have begun our Christmas vacation after a very busy school term, and we have reached an unspoken agreement to engage ourselves in activities that require no more brain power than it takes to fill a bucket with sand. Yesterday we did just that, along with a few half-hearted tries at a game of frozen tag on the beach.
We are following Gilberto around, because sometimes he plays at beautiful beach restaurants where we can possibly get a musician’s discount, and because then we don’t have to make any sort of decision beyond deciding what flavor of frozen yogurt we want after lunch. He’s being good-natured about the enforced Drag Your Family to Work Week. But then again, he wasn’t given much choice.
If you would like to see him play some good classic rock and oldies while his family sits in beach chairs and orders frozen limonadas on his account, come down to El Rio BBQ on Friday from 4 to 6. If you’d like to see more of him and less of us, you can catch him at Paradise Burger at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and Nacho Daddy at 8pm on Tuesdays with Chris Kenny.
Since we are on the subject of holiday joy and giving (more or less), I wanted to bring my readers’ attention to an amazing organization in Puerto Vallarta that is in great need of our support. I became aware of the Orquestra Escuela de Puerto Vallarta (OEPV) when my son’s violin teacher, Mary McLachlan, suggested it to me for those months when she is not in Vallarta. It’s set in the heart of Pitillal, cobblestone streets and tiny shops surrounding the white school building.
What we found when we arrived for a tour was a busy school, with the sounds of brass, wood, and strings floating out of every classroom. But what we also experienced was a community, teachers greeting shy students by name, children and teens laughing and chatting in the common area. Everyone had an instrument and a smile.
And a community was exactly the goal of the founders of OEPV. This program’s purpose involves developing “musicians with the intention of expanding their outlook and forming a better community within the city”. Just like a single instrument becomes an integral part of an orchestra, so do children at OEPV learn to become integral, active parts of the greater community.
Some of the young orchestra members have already played with the Puerto Vallarta Chamber Orchestra as their skills and talents are developed in this marvelous school. My own son is currently taking weekly lessons with a caring, talented instructor with the goal of eventually becoming part of the orchestra.
I am thrilled because his confidence, enthusiasm and motivation for the violin are currently through the roof. He is thrilled because he can now play several bars of the themes of Star Wars, The Pink Panther, and The Hobbit. What more could a 10-year-old boy want out of the violin?
But here’s the thing. When we went to fill out the forms, we were immediately and cheerfully informed by the office staff that no one is turned away because they have trouble paying tuition (before we even asked about the fees). And the reality is that we pay is a fraction of what we would pay for a program of the same quality in Canada.
In other words, the folks at OEPV aren’t just in it to make some music. They are in it to change some lives. And we can help.
If you want to know more, check out this link:
You can also find them on Facebook under the name Orquesta Escuela de Puerto Vallarta.

One comment

  1. Music and dance lessons given to young children cannot be over done for young and developing minds and bodies. The only such lessons given by my parents to my sister and I were ballet lessons . No … they did not offer them to me, but since my younger sister was receiving them, I insisted to be included. Boy did it pay off when I entered school sports in the upper grades , and after graduation, becoming a tennis professional teacher and player. Balance is so important in everyday life, whether in navigating stairs, running, or even walking around the house in older life. I also was one of the founding member of a folk dance club that had lasted for over 45 years when my wife’s health resulted in our dropping out.
    My wife in her youth was given piano lessons . She did not play the piano in her adult life, but became quite a guitar player , teacher and singer, of which she taught me some time after we married. Loretta formed a band and singing group, that have been on TV, Radio and on stage. She also gave a woman’s day concert in the San Francisco Golden Gate Park in San Francisco , at the stage located between the De Young Museum and the Steinheart Aquarium to a crowd of thousands of women .

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