Cerritos "Keys" Brass Band
“A village without music is a village without a soul”, says a local proverb, and so the village of Cerritos, located deep in the mountains of the Ecuadorian Andes. In 2021, responding to a request from local community representatives, we launched a new programme in Ecuador involving 20 young people. This group, who live in a village deep in the Andes, had been dreaming of creating a wind and brass band in order to preserve their unique culture and ancestral traditions. With the help of Keys of Change, this dream is now a reality.
Keys of Change relies on the help of six teachers from inside and outside Ecuador, and also on the logistical support of our local partners, the Dulcepamba Project and the Condor Trust for Education, so that we were able to ship more musical instruments to the community. We currently teach individually the following instruments: clarinet, trombone, saxophone, trumpet, flute and musical theory.
The youth of the community, apart from going to school, devote most of their time working in the field with their families. Although the prospects are very limited, the community has shown a strong desire for unity, and the students were able to keep up attendance at online music classes all through the pandemic, enabling them to reach a level sufficiently high to perform as a group.
In August 2022, two of our teachers, Maribel (clarinet) and Andres (trumpet) travelled to Ecuador from Mexico and spent one month teaching in Cerritos, giving individual lessons and holding group rehearsals. The attendance remained at 100% for the duration of this music camp. This was a much-needed boost that helped the band come together, and for the first time perform as a group. As one of the goals of all Keys of Change projects is live music through public performances, the teachers’ stay in the community culminated in the band’s first appearance, performing for the community’s local “fiesta”, followed by a performance in a nearby village.
The development of the band in Cerritos has given a sense of unity, pride and hope to all the participants and to the community overall. Apart from helping better sustain the sense of identity and preserving vanishing traditions through music, the band has given an opportunity to its members to expand their horizons and look at new possibilities for the future. For example, the majority of young people in Cerritos typically work in agriculture, and for some, their biggest ambition was to work for the police. Since joining the band, many have expressed a desire to become music teachers and a wish to share their musical traditions with other parts of Ecuador.