Friday, July 12, 2013

The Sounds of Hope

Thought for the day:  Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.  [Plato]

You're never too old ... or too young... to enjoy music.

The enjoyment of music respects no boundaries; it's pretty much universal. No age limit, either. Even newborn infants respond to music, and most of us continue to respond to it until we draw our very last breath.


Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.  [Confucius]

It can be uplifting, rousing, soothing, sublime, or profane, and has the uncanny ability to reach inside our hearts to touch us on a primal level.  As Leo Tolstoy said, Music is the shorthand of emotion.

Remember the song My Way? Written by Paul Anka, and originally performed by Frank Sinatra, it was an okay song. Not the best, not the worst, but in the hands of violinist Andre Rieu, this ordinary tune becomes sublime:


No doubt, Mr. Rieu is a talented musician who makes magnificent sounds come out of that priceless instrument of his. My guess is he came from a comfortable background and benefited from a good education. Maybe a private tutor and top-notch music teachers. Perhaps not, but that's my guess.

The question is: How can a child who's mired in abject poverty make music? Time for a little story...


Just outside Ascuncion, Paraguay's capital city, lies one of the largest landfills in Latin America. That's also where 25,000 people live in the slum city of Cateura. Day after day, tons of garbage get added to the landfill, and day after day, the men, women, and children of Cateura traverse mountains of garbage, and sift through it for whatever they can salvage. For that is the story of their survival: they eke out a living by recycling garbage from that landfill.

And yet... and yet... orchestral music is alive and well in the slum of Cateura. In the midst of crippling poverty, there are instruments for the children to play... instruments fashioned from salvaged garbage. Empty oil drums become cellos and violins; water pipes and spoons become flutes; packing crates become guitars; and bottle caps, buttons, and spoons turn a pipe into a clarinet. Garbage becomes instruments of hope.

                                        Play the music, not the instrument. [unknown origin]

                                                        Care to witness a musical miracle?



Pretty amazing, huh? Favio Chavez, director of Cateura's Landfill Harmonic Orchestra, said, The world sends us garbage. We send back music. And tell ya what, when those youngsters play My Way, the song gains new meaning. Their way, indeed...

                                                                           
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. [Berthold Auerbach]

Music is moonlight in the gloomy side of life.  [Jean Paul Richter]

Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. [Lao Tzu]

The whole universe may not hear their music, but thanks to donations from all over the world, these children of hope will be the subject of a documentary next year. They'll also be touring the United States... and playing their unique instruments that were built with garbage, hope, and a lot of love.



Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.  [Martin Luther]

                                   Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

                                                  [Images courtesy of morguefile]

103 comments:

  1. "Music is my food in life,
    Don't take it away"


    -Peter Frampton

    "If music be the food of love, play on"

    -William Shakespeare

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  2. Andre Rieu started studying the violin when he was five. His father was a conductor (some musicians have smooth sailing.....). I've seen Rieu conduct several times and his performances are very enjoyable.

    I'm not certain if music is the "food of love" but it has saved my sanity on countless occasions. Music and reading have always been the greatest joys of my life. Without them, I would have perished.

    The Landfill Harmonic is not only amazing but also extremely inspiring. Tangible proof that priceless treasures can be found among trash and good things can emerge from bad situations. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. I think music certainly has the capacity to nourish love, but it's more of a food for life. Without it... heck, I don't even want to consider a world devoid of music.

      I'm glad you found their story inspirational, too. It really got to me.

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  3. I love good music in any form... I especially adore it when the words or music itself are inspiring and uplifting:)

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    1. Me, too. I love music that feels like it swells inside me and makes my heart sing.

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  4. "The world sends us garbage. We send back music" Beautiful.

    I could not imagine a world without music. That would be tragic. It is a universal language that is understood by all.

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    1. Isn't it? I'm glad you found their story beautiful, too.

      And yes, though in theory, music isn't required for basic survival, it certainly adds to the pleasure of living.

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  5. Wow. What a truly amazing testament to the human creative spirit. I love it!

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  6. Music really does touch us in so many ways doesn't it? I love how music takes each individual listener to his or her own place...it's beautifully subjective.

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    1. It does. Music touches us on the deepest levels of our emotions. It kinds makes me wonder... I wonder if anyone reacts negatively to all music. Like a sociopath or something...

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  7. Oh God Susan. I cried like a baby. I played in an orchestra (violin) my whole growing up life. Seeing and hearing this beauty coming from trash just made me so humbled by the strength and power of the human spirit. All those kids playing Vivaldi!
    Beautiful!
    ~Just Jill

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    1. Sorry to make you cry, but I'm glad their story touched you on such a personal level. Those kids are amazing. And you're right; their story is very humbling.

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  8. Thanks for sharing this with us...very inspirational.

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  9. People are amazing sometimes and it's nice to hear about it (instead of the not so amazing stuff we do). Thanks :)

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    1. Yeah, we see enough of the bad stuff on the nightly news. It's nice to concentrate on some of the inspirational, too.

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  10. Music has soothed my soul since I could walk and talk.

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    1. And you, in turn, have used music to bring comfort and joy to other people...

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  11. A baby reacts right away to music and when he/she starts moving around, will try to make noise, sound, music to make he/she happy. We would not have music unless it was ingrained in our DNA. I think I could do without most things in life, except music. (Well maybe a chocolate chip cookie also)

    Who could not be inspired and touched by those children. Finding joy is so hard to find in such horrible circumstances, but if we seek, we can find.

    Very moving post Susan. Excuse me now while I get a tissue to wipe my ugly cry face.

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    1. Yes, man cannot live by bread alone; he must have music and chocolate chip cookies.

      Glad you liked the post, Arleen, but I ain't buying the "ugly" part.

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  12. I used to really enjoy listening to music... now, I love the peace and quiet more. Must be getting old.

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    1. I love music, but also enjoy the sounds of silence. (Both the song and the real thing!) But nah, that couldn't possibly have anything to do with age. Nah. Couldn't be. (Hush!)

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  13. Thanks for sharing this amazing post. It seems that in this ever-more-divided world, music is one of the few things that still offers us common ground. Cookies do, too :-)

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Music... and cookies... certainly have the potential to unite us, but some of us like nuts in our chocolate chips, and some of us don't.

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  14. Sorry I'm late dropping by. That video of the trash made instruments and orchestra is uplifting. Music does soothe the soul and enlighten our hearts. What some can do with what others consider nothing is also heartening.

    Thanks for sharing this, Susan.

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    1. You're not late! Whenever you get here is just the right time.

      I'm glad you found the story and video uplifting. We sometimes joke about how "one man's trash is another man's treasure", but this story proves how true that can be.

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  15. 'My Way' was pivotal at my granddad's funeral in July of 2011. People had been listening to it, one of my cousins organized a digital slide show to it, it was 'in the air.'

    I was asked to give the eulogy and I ended it with, 'He did it ...' then I pointed the mike to everyone sitting in the audience ... 'his way.'

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    1. Wow, that was a unique addition to your grandfather's funeral.

      ("Mike" was absolutely fine.)

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    2. Neat of you to say. I kinda thought so, too.

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  16. Oh my, what an amazing story! Thanks for sharing it, gave me chills.

    Happy weekend, Susan.

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    1. In this heat, we could all use a chill or two. I'm glad you liked it.

      And a very happy weekend to you, too.

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  17. Neat story. Music is truly the soundtrack of life.

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    1. Isn't it? I'm glad you liked it. Yes, music is the hot fudge sauce and whipped cream atop our mound of vanilla ice cream.

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  18. What a touching story, Susan. It put things in perspective.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    Have a beautiful weekend.

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, Julia. You have a beautiful weekend, too.

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  19. There is just in the human spirit that wanted to rise above the savage animal evolution and ignorance wanted to force on us.

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    1. Music can definitely elevate us above savage animal stage... or perhaps, it can turn us into animals... depending on the music and how loudly it's played.

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  20. It's amazing what genius and talent can do to an ordinary song. Music must make like a little kinder for the trash heap people.

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    1. I believe music has made their lives better, but I hope things improve a lot more for them.

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  21. Human consciousness seeks ever-expanding areas of organization, so do music and the cosmos. Pretty important connection.

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    1. Aye, 'tis true, dude. So does my waistline.

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  22. Touching and inspirational. From so little, comes so very much.

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  23. Truly amazing! Thanks so much for sharing it.

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  24. The human spirit is amazing, that's for sure.

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    1. It sure is. Those people are making the most of what little they have.

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  25. Loved this post! I knew about the Landfill Harmonic, and I support them. It's a wonderful project for those kids.

    I also enjoyed listening to Anre Rieu.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Super! I'm glad you enjoyed the post, and even more glad that you already knew about and support these kids. What they're able to do with those handmade instruments blows me away.

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  26. Respond away we do
    Each and everyone at their zoo
    Some is hate
    Some one can relate

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Respond, "That's right!"
      Or call it wrong;
      It doesn't really matter,
      If we get along.

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  27. Definitely amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

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  28. I had seen a video of the landfillharmonic (what a clever name!) on Facebook a while ago, but it still gave me goosebumps. Great story, and thanks for posting about it.

    I'll go have a chocolate chip cookie now.

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    1. Yeah, I really like that clever name, too. Good deal on the goosebumps. In Florida, they're probably a refreshing change.

      Yum. Me, too.

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  29. The human spirit never ceases to amaze me - nor shock me, but that's for another day.

    Truly wonderful post. There is, after all, always a silver lining if we care to dig deep.

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    1. Better to be amazed than shocked. Yes, I'm a big fan of the "silver lining" outlook on life, too.

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  30. Tears in my eyes...I play violin too, but my tone is not as good as some of these kids with recycled instruments. So glad they've found music. What an inspiration!

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    1. I'm glad their story touched you. It's amazing that they can get such tones out of garbage-based violins. Can you imagine what they could do with a Stradivarius?

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  31. I had a friend once who was dead broke in Panama City, FL. One day he picked up a beer can off the beach and turned it into a beautiful flower. Soon, he became a super-successful sculptor, selling his art in the most ritzy galleries.
    Music is mankind's greatest endeavor and musical instruments our most beautiful creation.

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    1. They say necessity is the mother of invention; in your friend's case, I'd say that's true. Aided and abetted by the desire to put some money in his pocket, of course. I'm glad it worked out so well for him. Talent and motivation tops adversity.

      Why, Mr. C, that is downright poetic. Clearly, you have music in your bloodstream.

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  32. Ha! I saw the first part of your post and thought "I've got to tell her about the Landfilharmonic!" I might have known you'd tie them up together beautifully. Goosebumps, smiling, thank you VERY much!

    Diana at About Myself By Myself

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    1. Thanks! (I'll take that as a compliment.) I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Those kids are truly inspiring.

      Happy weekend!

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  33. what a remarkable story of hope.

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    1. It's truly heartening when people lift themselves above difficult circumstances and find joy and hope.

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  34. I love inspiring music. I have also seen some of the South American slums and landfills. Mixing the two is quite a mind blower. Great post!

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    1. I'm glad the post blew your mind. I have a feeling that isn't easy to do.

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  35. This post reminds me of the show Stomp, which is either still around after many years or making a comeback. Have you seen it, Susan? I think you'd be impressed. It's hard to imagine the world without music.

    xoRobyn

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    1. Good correlation! I hadn't even thought of the similarities between the two groups of kids. I suppose music and rhythm is embedded in the human spirit and its release, in whatever form, can be an expression of hope and joy.

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  36. How wonderful that they've now been given a bigger voice (from media attention). I hope it remains positive.

    This is really heartwarming.

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    1. Yes, as more people around the world hear about and are inspired by their story, hopefully that will translate into a better life for all of those children.

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  37. We discovered when my grandma began to lose her ability to communicate that music was the last thing to go. She didn't talk well, but she could still sing. My mom's friend has Parkinson's and recently had several strokes. Her speech was impaired (on top of all her other issues). One of the things that the speech therapy folks figured out was that even if she couldn't say it, she could sing it. Our brains work in amazing ways.

    As for your video from Paraguay... we all live, but life without music is sad. All cultures have found ways to bring music into their lives. It might be beating the drum and chanting, but our lives demand music. We crave it.

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    1. It's fascinating how our brains process music. People who stutter or have other speech impediments can sing beautifully.

      When my grandmother was in the hospital dying, we got permission to bring a record player to the hospital to play her favorite hymns for her. She was in a coma, but she seemed to relax when we started playing that music.

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  38. Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. [Martin Luther]

    I certainly agree with that statement.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Me, too. Music is (or at least, can be) a beautiful expression of the human spirit... and a paean to its Creator.

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  39. What a truly remarkable story! This music really does come from the heart!

    Julie

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, Julie. "From the heart" stuff will get me every time.

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  40. You found some pretty neat vids. I like them all but I'm especially impressed with the kids from Paraguay. You are so right, music will find it's way into lives and when it does, it's as if the window had opened and rays of sunshine come streaming in.

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    1. Those kids are very impressive, as well as the men who make their instruments. What a wonderful way to put it! Music really is like sunshine.

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  41. Susan, you find and write about the most interesting things! Where there is a will there is a way, and it is amazing how people have designed these instruments and the kids have excelled in playing them.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to see me, and I hope that you have a wonderful week.

    Kathy M.

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you find this stuff interesting, too. Soooo many neat things in the world to write about...

      My pleasure. Always nice to stop by and say howdy. You have a super week, too.

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  42. What a wonderful story! The human spirit is truly amazing.

    That Auerbach quote is so true.

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    1. I'm glad you liked their story. I reckon music gives their spirits a huge boost.

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  43. Love the music. Thanks for sharing the story.

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    1. I'm glad you liked it. My pleasure, Nas. Take care.

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  44. Hi Susan,

    Stirringly and profoundly captured in your posting. Music, the songs of hope, of realisation that music can bring a sense of comfort in the most extreme of circumstances.

    Music transports you. Takes you on journeys to moments in time. Memories of good times, bad times, happy times and poignant times. Music captures and freezes the thoughts of the past. Etched forever in your mind. You hear a song and you are there. The remembrance of childhood dreams, of first love, of love lost and learning to love again. The storybook of your life are written in the feelings of the music.

    Thank you for such a thoughtful posting, Susan.

    Gary

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    1. Wow, thank you for such a thoughtful comment, Gary. Beautiful. And oh so true.

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  45. Those landfills are horrible. What an amazing story.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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    1. Yeah, landfills stink, but all that garbage the people of the world produce has to go somewhere. I'm glad you liked the story.

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  46. I often despair at the state of the world so it is nicer to see some hope and beauty amidst the darkness..

    Thanks for posting this.

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    1. Some despair is inevitable, but there's a lot more in the world to rejoice about. You might have to dig through a lot of garbage to find them, but they're always there.

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  47. What a fascinating, absorbing post. Beauty amid the ruins of civilization's toss-off's. Thanks for the positive message, Roland

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, Roland. Positive is my middle name. Okay, so it isn't, but it should be... it has a much nicer ring to it than Katherine.

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  48. you know, one of these days you and i will have to go to a music fest!

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    1. Sounds like a plan. Think we can find one that features opera, hard rock, ballads, and Bach?

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  49. Hi Susan .. quite extraordinary .. and how wonderful that musicians have been able to help them so much.

    Amazing .. I've heard of the 'scratched' orchestra from South America - which I think toured and visited London .. they were extraordinary ... but this is just wonderful to read about ... and the hope they've been given - as they'll give so much back.

    Makes me look at rubbish in a different light .. but at people too and what can be achieved ...

    Loved it - thanks for posting .. cheers Hilary

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, Hilary. The story really does put things into perspective. Most of us are so wasteful in the things we discard... while others survive by recycling what others deem worthless. But the story of the children, and the new hope they've found through music... that message soars above all.

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