The Sones de Mexico Ensemble wants your children to learn all about the richness of Mexico’s musical traditions. Through a partnership between the Ralla Klepak Foundation and Metropolitan Family Services, the Grammy-nominated musicians are offering an immersive music and cultural experience for children in their week-long Fiesta Mexicana camp in August.
“The kids will be making paper masks during the week and on Friday, we’ll have a culminating event where the kids will play alongside Sones de Mexico Ensemble for all the families and we’ll get to wear their masks,” said Sones de Mexico’s Juan Díes. “They’ll also be doing Aztec dance and they’ll be wearing rattles around their feet to make music as they dance. It’ll be 30 hours of instruction during the week. You drop your kids off in the morning, you pick them up after work and they’ll be fully immersed in Mexican culture.”
All of the instructors are bilingual, but instruction will be primarily in Spanish, a decision Díes said is aimed at helping children boost their language skills.
“Some of the second-generation kids are not as comfortable or open about using their Spanish around the home,” Díes said. “This program is going to try to draw them out and help communicate through the arts, through music and through language.”
Sones de Mexico was founded in 1994 as a group that specializes in music traditions from different parts of Mexico.
“We consider ourselves students of Mexican folk music ourselves,” Díes said. “So we are passing on this knowledge that we’ve been accumulating over many years and we feel that to increase people’s identity with their culture, they need to develop an appreciation of the richness that is there.”
Metropolitan Family Services’ Ric Estrada says the hope is the camp will not only connect kids with the beautiful sounds of Mexico, but also connect students’ families to needed community resources.
“The idea is, music in and of itself and the arts is great but pairing them with a community partner that can provide other services to the families when they come in and, let’s say we find out that a family needs a full scholarship and we’re able to provide it,” said Estrada. “There could be other needs that we discover like after school care, early childhood. We could provide legal aid. We could provide workforce development training. So this becomes really a full comprehensive service in addition to the wonderful culture building activities.”
Estrada emphasized that no child will be turned away for inability to pay, and that scholarships and financial assistance are readily available for anyone who needs it.