Manuel Puebla, winner of the Global Teacher Prize Chile 2022: “Access to music must be a guaranteed right and not a commercial possibility for the few”

The prize was awarded to music teacher Manuel Puebla (35). Global Prize for Teachers Chile 2022 in the music category, the most important didactic award in the world, known as the “Nobel Prize for Teaching”. The award distinguishes the “Percutodo” project by the teacher of the CREE School of Cerro Navia, an innovative laboratory that strengthens the approach to music with household objects and utensils, demonstrating that it is not necessary to have tools that are difficult to access to start with music and, among other things, it places the teacher, his experience and his equipment on the same level as the student.

“It was born as a laboratory that wanted to generate the rhythmic aspect of music in a moving way and we started from the assumption that everything can be music, everything can have rhythms: from a table, a bottle, a bucket or the iron of a fence. This project also allows us to get rid of that elitist stigma that you only need expensive tools to start making music. It is a stigma and a paradigm that it is leaving behind and my lessons at Percutodo aim to build instruments with what is in the house, what we find to have an unconventional instrument from scratch”, underlines the professor who graduated the career of Pedagogy in Music of the University Academy of Christian Humanism.

He adds that during the pandemic he has asked students to take class with whatever they have on hand and hit a plate, for example. “The kids sent me their homework and that went really well, but the controversial thing was that the parents called later saying that they had to hide pots and glasses because the kids they hit everything”, recalls Puebla enthusiastically. “Developing music creation without big inputs frees up learning and emerges from the figure of the person who knows everything, opening up the possibility that everyone in their home can create music,” she reiterates.

Puebla is a champion of music pedagogical education in early childhood and beyond. As a Masters in Neuroscience Applied to Education, he says he has studied the effect of access and exposure to music in children and also in adults who have not had this stimulus. In this sense, he underlines that the possibility of learning about music must be understood as a fundamental right for everyone. “Their access must be guaranteed and not just a commercial possibility for the few, given that it can be explored in school education, but also by playing, stammering or humming, without the need to get into the learned or serious. I have seen this talisman in children that they carry incorporated as a game and as more closed children reach their potential and express it with their different abilities, breaking down barriers and mythologies such as those of the “child who cannot play an instrument”, points out. “I don’t aspire to have musicians in the room, but children who can enjoy music. Just as a child learns to speak through practice, music is also learned step by step”.

All kinds of music?

The streaming music platform Spotify in its annual report describes how urban music drives the preferences of young Chileans with artists such as Marcaneke, Cris MJ, Pailita or Standly. Within these preferences and its reach to new audiences, the professor recognizes this popularity, but also a distance from his contribution as a first approach to music education. “I have nothing against urban rhythms, but in terms of harmonic context for the little ones, it does not contribute much to musical education as such. Perhaps if you have a first approach to music you can integrate new references or differentiate other types of music. It’s like when you constantly eat one type of food and you’re used to it, but suddenly you change the menu and it’s difficult for you to enter other things or you can be disappointed, but there are different ways of preparing the same dish and in this case different ways of prepare musical training”, exemplifies the teacher.

He appreciates, however, that today anyone can create music and upload it to YouTube, but to move forward – he says – it is necessary to dismember the music a little more until you reach the melody. “The letters, on the other hand, must be understood. Many times we make the mistake of singing songs whose lyrics we don’t know and which have a strong impact on children. Some time ago I did some research on how children could add new words to their passive lexicon through music, and there the songs contribute new words and meanings. If there are empty words, they are dead words and The power that music has is a power that we need to know how to use because it gives us access to different types of information., in this case in language. You can know and hear new words, but if they don’t have a clear context or connotation they won’t make sense to the child and he will learn and repeat them like a tape recorder,” the teacher points out.

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