Political turmoil and lack of infrastructure in Paraguay have left about 60 percent of its citizens in poverty. To help improve the lives of Paraguay’s poor and neglected children, the famous musician and social entrepreneur Luis Szarán founded the program Sounds of the Earth. In the video Paraguay: Sounds of Hope, students will meet Szarán and see how the Sounds of the Earth program is organizing communities and bringing about social change through music.
For classrooms studying Global Studies, World History or Music, FRONTLINE/World provides a set of video themes and discussion questions to help students analyze and understand key current events around the globe. Watch the video and start a discussion about how music education can promote good citizenship. Go further into this topic with the Paraguay: Sounds of Hope Lesson Plan that asks students to discuss the benefits of studying and performing music and infer how a music education program in Paraguay could bring about positive social changes over time.
Jesuit missions in colonial Paraguay had used music as a way to teach aspects of life such as respect, a democratic spirit, teamwork and discipline. Luis Szarán wanted to recreate that idea with his Sounds of the Earth program.
One challenge in getting Sounds of the Earth off the ground was to get adults in each community to come together and organize themselves to fund-raise, to find a building for their community’s music school, to feed the students, and to organize community concerts.
Szarán began work in a few small communities, where children received free instruments and musical instruction. Sounds of the Earth has since grown so that there are now sustainable programs in communities all over the country.
Szarán says his music program is a pretext to create social networks and social change in Paraguay. For example, the Don Bosco orchestra in Asunción integrates orphans with other children in the community.
What aspects of the Jesuit musical tradition in colonial Paraguay did Szarán want to recreate with Sounds of the Earth?
Why does Szarán think organizing adults is just as important to the program’s success as providing free instruments and musical instruction to children?
What are some of the ways that the Sounds of the Earth program has changed the lives of its participants?
In the video, Luis Szarán says, “Keep in mind that we’re not looking for good musicians, but rather good citizens.” What does he mean by that?
Featured Lesson Plan: “Music as an Instrument of Social Change”
Web-exclusive Resources: Slideshow: Lives Touched by Music