La Banda de Música – Music School of Santa Cecilia

The project is fairly straight-forward: the children of a poor district in southern Mexico dreamed of creating a band in order to escape the surrounding violence and crime. That dream was destined to come true…

“In 2011, I met a group of 21 children from 8 to 16 who gathered every day for three hours after school to learn music with their teacher Camerino.

Their aim was simple: the creation of a band in that forsaken, ramshackle neighbourhood, built at the foot of a landfill in the town of Oaxaca, some 6 hours and a half from Mexico City. The Banda started out with a music theory course, in which every fledgling musician already knew what they would play later on, but the price of a musical instrument is extremely high compared with the living standards of the families in this neighbourhood.

Here in Europe, we often own instruments that we don’t use, and there were young musicians deprived of instruments… The answer was obvious!

That’s when a big chain of solidarity was set up in France to collect second-hand instruments, but also music stands, mouthpieces, reeds and sheet music. In order to ship all this material, I got the help of my work colleagues, the on-board staff of Air France.

And that’s how, in February 2012, the Banda was born. In May, the project expanded with a set of guitars and mandolins, and in 2015, the violins and cellos arrived.

That same year, with the support of the Air France Fund, a music school was built, and a repair workshop dedicated to the maintenance of the instruments opened its doors.

On a regular basis, teachers and experts luthiers fly in from Europe to lend a hand to the project. Some of the students are awarded a scholarship in order to keep on studying music at a higher level at a local music conservatory.

The school itself, named Escuela de iniciación musical Santa Cecilia, is managed with great professionalism by the parents of the students. At the moment, it employs five teachers and welcomes about a hundred children, six days a week. Out of the school a symphonic orchestra has been created and it is the pride and joy of the neighbourhood.”

Isabelle de Boves
(Chairwoman of La Banda de Música and Air France flight captain)