“Mozart” teaches music to kids in Mexico

Pianist Axel García has visited schools in Mexico and Argentina to promote music education

“Mozart” teaches music to kids in Mexico
Pianist Axel García disguised as Mozart at a school in Mexico City – Photo: Yadín Xolalpa
English 07/02/2018 14:51 Sarai Cabral Mexico City Actualizada 11:40

Public school New Millennium was completely enthralled for almost an hour. And why wouldn't they, when "Mozart" sat behind a piano to play “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”

New Millennium is one of the 81 elementary public schools in the borough of Tláhuac, Mexico City, a borough where there are only four arts & music teachers, according to statistical data of the Ministry of Public Education.

Baton in hand, “Mozart” guided the student without losing their attention. On the contrary, he managed to make his audience jump and clamp at the beat of his “Turkish March.”

“Sit down, please!” he called to subdue the excitement of his young students, who were enthusiastic about this unusual music class.

The idea that classical music is boring and only for few people was tackled thanks to this teacher dressed in wig and clothes reminiscent of the fashion of the 18th century, who managed to make his audience bust out in laughter more than once.

Behind Mozart is Axel García Stur, an Argentinian pianist who doesn't hesitate to claim there is a taboo in this music genre. “More than prejudice it's ignorance. Lack of knowledge causes this mistaken belief.”

(Photo: Yadín Xolalpa/EL UNIVERSAL)

Although Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born 262 years ago, the freshness García Stur transmits in his presentations have kept the composer very much alive.

García Stur is the creative mind behind “Mozart goes to school,” a project that began almost four years ago and has visited over 2 elementary schools in Mexico and Argentina, many of them in low-income neighborhoods, removed from cultural and artistic centers.

Artistic education, absent in Mexican schools

After every class García Stur gave in one city or town after another, he realized there are several key issues shared by many Latin American countries: poverty, an absence of fun and engaging dynamics, and almost zero artistic or musical activities.

“It's enough to take a look at the children to see the hardships they're facing,” explains the musician, who has visited schools where children cannot even afford shoes.

(Photo: Yadín Xolalpa/EL UNIVERSAL)

García Stur charges little or nothing for his music lessons – depending on the region – and the list of schools on his waiting list grows longer. He has been to cities such as Piedras Negras, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey, Juchitán de Zaragoza, and Uruapan, among many others.

“It should be a priority to invest in this type of programs, not in mine but in all,” reflects the pianist.

In Mexico, the time elementary students dedicate to music is reduced. Music and arts courses barely comprise 4% of education programs, pursuant to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in their report “Education at a Glance 2015.”

While elementary education schools are waiting for more arts and music courses to be included in the curricula, nowadays there are other alternatives such as the Artistic Initiation Schools of the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City, or the network of the Artistic Initiation Schools in several other cities, aimed to institutions and public organizations.

When the presentation is over, the kids struggle to say goodbye. From the hundreds of children who were clapping moments earlier, a group of 20 kids chases “Mozart” until they reach a room where the changing room has been improvised. They watch curiously through the window. “Children are the most honest because if there's something they like they let you know but if it's something they don't, then they'll tell you too,” he claims, while a few of the kids sneak into the room to give him a candy or a letter.