Kids do the impossible: Make music from junk
A chamber orchestra of 20 children uses these and other instruments fashioned out of recycled materials from a landfill where their parents eke out livings as trash-pickers. They regularly performing the music of Beethoven and Mozart, Henry Mancini and the Beatles.
Rocio Riveros, 15, said it took her a year to learn how to play her flute, which was made from tin cans. "Now I can't live without this orchestra," she said.
Word is spreading about these kids from Cateura, a vast landfill outside Paraguay's capital where some 25,000 families live alongside reeking garbage in abject poverty.
The youngsters of "The Orchestra of Instruments Recycled From Cateura" performed in Brazil, Panama and Colombia this year. They hope to play at an exhibit opening next year in their honor at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.
"We want to provide a way out of the landfill for these kids and their families. So we're doing the impossible so that they can travel outside Paraguay, to become renowned and admired," said Favio Chavez, a social worker and music teacher who started the orchestra.
Chavez had learned clarinet and guitar as a child, and had started a small music school in another town in Paraguay before he got a job with an environmental organization helping trash-pickers in Cateura. Chavez opened a tiny music school at the landfill hoping to keep youngsters out of trouble.
Alejandra Amarilla Nash and film producer Juliana Penaranda-Loftus have followed the orchestra for years, joining Chavez in his social work while making their film "Landfill Harmonic" on a shoestring budget.
The documentary is far from complete. The kids still have much to prove. But last month, the filmmakers created a Facebook page and posted a short trailer on YouTube and Vimeo that has gone viral, quickly getting more than a million views altogether.
Critical thinking challenge: These kids demonstrate how much you can accomplish with nothing more than trash. What can you make from the stuff your family throws away?
Define these words: eke out, shoestring budget
- Posted on December 16, 2012