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NOTAS DE PAZ


Notas de Paz’s mission is to build a peaceful environment through education and musical training.

 

 

The Transformative Power of Music

By Ana B. Remos


 

After a long gestation process, on March 1, 2007, the non-profit Notas de Paz (Notes of Peace) was founded in the Colombian city of Cali. On that day Lilly Scarpetta de Pumarejo, a mathematician from Cali, realized a dream she had harbored for 25 years. 

Notas de Paz
Notas de Paz Headquarters.

During a trip to the Salzburg Music Festival in Austria, Scarpetta overheard a Venezuelan couple, Harold and Matilde Chumaceiro, talking about the incredible work carried out by the Venezuelan maestro Jose Abreu with children in their native country. Maestro Abreu was seeing excellent results with his famous “system”: the creation of children’s orchestras designed to improve the social and intellectual skills of children in underserved communities. Gustavo Dudamel, director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar is a product of Abreu’s system and the best example of its transformative power.

Notas de Paz
Notas de Paz Children's Orchestra.

Deeply impressed by that conversation, Lilly would spend years studying, searching and talking with experts about the possibility of implementing a similar program in Colombia. The project came to fruition when she founded Notas de Paz in Bellavista, one of the poorest neighborhoods in her native Cali, a city affected by extreme poverty, where gangs and violence are the normal solution to everyday problems. 

Notas de Paz’s mission is to build a peaceful environment through education and musical training. It is a Children and Youth Orchestra, which uses music as an integral training for life, taking the children into a world of harmony and beauty, where they can find themselves as respectable human beings who are able to produce something as beautiful as a symphony. 

In the five years since its inception, and thanks to the love and passion of its founder, the organization has nearly 150 musical instruments (most purchased by Lilly herself), 140 students and 19 teachers. It is housed in a wonderful building in the outskirts of Bellavista, and the children come every day to study, rehearse, do their homework and receive a comprehensive education.

Notas de Paz
Ana B. Remos, Lilly Scarpetta de Pumarejo.

The place has become the heart of the neighborhood. The parents take care of the gardens, cleaning and maintenance, and participate in the events organized here. Notas de Paz has become a second home for the kids. They come everyday after school or whenever they have free time with the attitude of the child who comes home for safety, support and guidance. They rehearse, play, study, talk or eat with the teachers and counselors and to go to the dentist or the doctor when needed, since the organization is responsible for their general development. During their vacations, the children come to the center to clean their instruments, enjoy picnics and join their friends in a wholesome environment. 

Notas de Paz
Notas de Paz Children.

Every Christmas Lilly enjoys taking all of them to her beautiful country house in Cali, where they swim in the pool, enjoy a barbecue, games, clowns, and receive gifts. The shared passion for music has served not only to rescue them from high risk, it has created a great family: that of Notas de Paz. 

Every quarter, the organization performs an academic, musical and psychological assessment of the students, noting the transformative power of music in their accomplishments, both socially and culturally. After they finish high school, the children are offered additional grants to continue their professional music studies at any university if that is their wish. The positive energy of Notas de Paz has transformed the lives of the inhabitants of this mountain neighborhood. As Lilly Scarpetta says: "Every child who learns to play an instrument, discovers a universal language, learns discipline and dedication, and is less likely to wield a weapon or end up in the streets". ■



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