The historic colonial city of Cuzco, Peru, is located high in the Andes Mountains, almost 10,000 feet above sea level. The surrounding mountains hide indigenous villages with small community schools. In an effort to encourage Quechua children to attend school, we have been installing playground equipment. Early efforts concentrated on physical exercise and social interaction. Equipment installed included: swing sets, monkey bars, teeter totters, and climbing towers.
On a recent trip to the Cuzco area, my grandson Rees and I decided to try something new. With financial assistance from instrument manufacturer Freenotes Harmony Park of Durango CO, two small outdoor musical instruments were purchased and transported in our checked luggage to Peru. The actual installations, including the construction of stands, were accomplish with an assist from a local welder and his family.
The first musical instrument was installed at a preschool located above Cuzco. We had already installed a small swing set at the school. To diversify the outdoor activities, we decided to install a Rhythm, a small xylophone-type instrument. The kids were extremely excited by the opportunities to make melodic sounds and music.
To get to the second site, it took 3 hours and we had to cross a pass that is almost 14,000 fsl. Our destination, the village of Ccalcco, is beautifully sited beneath snow-capped Andean Mountains. Many in the village showed up (many in traditional garb) to either help with the installation, or to check out the visiting Americans. At this site, a Melody instrument was installed. It was an instant hit with the children.
While it’s too early to tell, it appears that musical instruments are an excellent addition to developing country playgrounds. Financing is obviously an issue.