By Ellen Gonzales
ASPIRA school in Miama, Florida, was founded by a group of educators who wanted to make a change in the lives of low-performing and disadvantaged Latino youth. Since 1961, ASPIRA has offered a high level education that includes leadership, self-esteem, and pride in students’ cultural heritage. Central to this education is celebrating music improvisation, composition, and performance.
Dr. Radio Cremata, one of ASPIRA’s premiere educators, developed nationally recognized music education programs for students of all ages and levels, but felt passionately about reaching Miami’s most disadvantaged and underprivileged children. “I realized that I, as an educator, am involved in the business of saving lives...much like a medical doctor can heal, a teacher can do the same.”
In Cremata’s own elegant prose, he explains how music education, laced with Roland’s state of the art education technology, transforms the lives of students.
Roland: What music classes does ASPIRA offer?
Cremata: We are teaching general music right now. We sing, we dance, and we spend a great deal of time on composition and improvisation. I think that general music is great because things like composition and improvisation are often ignored in traditional band, choir and orchestra programs. Creativity is such an important skill to develop and [they] are key components to fostering creativity.
Roland: How do you find that music is impacting the lives of your students?
Cremata: Music is integral to the lives of my students. They often walk into my classroom and shout: “Music is My Life!!” We have to recognize that after school, kids can be themselves, and much of what they do after school is listen to music. Since students are incorporating songs into their homework and study habits, they can bridge their subjects together and deepen their love and appreciation for learning.
Roland: What type of connection do you see between music education and academics and attendance?
Cremata: Kids who love school, come to school. I can see the glimmer in their eyes when I pass the kids in the hallway. We need, as an educational community, to find ways to motivate students to want to be in school so that they can find greater opportunities for their future. We are shaping lives of children, but these children grow up quickly and they become adults. So, in reality, we are shaping adults.
Roland: Which features of the Roland products are most helpful in the classroom?
Cremata: Roland products are easy to use, reliable, durable, and sound amazing. My favorite thing about using Roland equipment with students is to see their reactions when they hear things for the first time. [Roland products] are wonderful tools for inspiring children to become more musical.
Roland: How do you think using the latest technology in the classroom feeds the needs of our current student culture?
Cremata: In one nugget, music education in the 21st century will either continue on its current path and die out completely or experience a surge of new and exciting ideas which will promote its popularity and impact generations of lives. It’s our choice. I believe that by embracing the latest music technologies and incorporating popular music, we will not only redefine our musical culture, we will educate and develop creative minds for a brand new civilization.