CMC leads free summer arts programs for San Francisco youth

July 19, 2021
It’s a musical summer for San Francisco youth with CMC leading arts programs at the Mission District Branch and in public school in San Francisco. 

Walking past the Mission District Branch on Capp Street in July, you’ll hear the grooves of Campamento CMC / Camp CMC. “It’s been really heartwarming to watch the campers light up around the music and open up to one another,” said Chantel Hernandez, Program Coordinator and MDYMP Coordinator. Campamento CMC is happening in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District serving students entering the sixth through twelfth grades. The SFUSD Mariachi program, which CMC has had a hand in teaching, and SFUSD music teachers nominated students for this tuition-free camp. Faculty members Tregar Otton (MDYMP and violin faculty) and Macro Diaz (MDYMP faculty) are teaching the camp with Cuban and Mariachi music and popular repertoire like El Manisero, Almendra, and Las Mañanitas. Diaz composed a special jam called Descarga CMC for the students to learn and write vocal parts (coros) as well, providing a compositional element to the camp curriculum. 

The campers have been enjoying the many opportunities at the camp to play music together again after a very long hiatus of in-person music classes. “This was the first in-person class experience for all of the students since the pandemic,” said Hernandez about the campers. “There was a bit of hesitancy at first. By the end of the first week the older students were explaining the music charts to the younger students, students were standing up confidently for their solos, and during break times the students would group up and practice together on their own! I can’t wait to see what they all accomplish by the end of the third week.” 

“I’ve learned so much in the last five days of camp,” said Gian Velasquez, age 16 and MDYMP student. “I’m not not only getting to practice as a timbalero, but I have the opportunity to learn piano. My favorite part of the camp so far is getting to play with people again.”

Gian’s younger brother Luca is also in the camp with him and following in his brother’s footsteps as a Latin percussionist. Gian gives Luca tips and practices with him.

CMC has teaching artists in three public schools in a six-week Summer Together program in partnership with the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) and Jamestown Community Center as well. Vincent de Jesus is teaching Afro-Caribbean percussion at Longfellow Elementary, Beth Wilmurt is teaching singing at Cesar Chavez Elementary, and Andrea Rodriguez is teaching dance and healing arts at Buena Vista Horace Mann.

After the many long months of music being conducted remotely, the sounds of youth playing in classes and ensembles again is lighting up the courtyard of the Mission District Branch. It’s been wonderful for CMC faculty and the students to connect musically in real-time. CMC thanks its partners for their collaboration and support.

Descarga CMC by Marco Diaz, a jam for Campamento CMC students.