“It has been my experience that music opens doors,” says Rosalba, founder and artistic director of LaPiñata, a non-profit youth arts organization in Jamaica Plain. With La Piñata, “children learn a variety of authentic Latin American music and art forms,” she says, “and develop knowledge and pride in their heritage.” She believes that “teaching pre-Hispanic, folkloric, and contemporary Latin American dances transmits culture.” Her ultimate objective, though, is to get kids to understand and appreciate cultural diversity.
Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Rosalba is passionate about music, art, dance, politics, and history. As a veteran teaching artist, 30 years strong in both public and private schools, she integrates music with all academic subjects. “It makes for a more engaging learning process,” she says. An expert musician as well as teacher, she is particularly enamored of the woodwind family, and plays saxophone, clarinet, and flute.
Currently, she teaches underserved inner-city students at a bilingual elementary school. Early in her teaching career, Rosalba learned to deal with the fact that many times there were no instruments, and no money to buy them. Creative, inventive, and flexible, she “used recycled pizza boxes to make drums and shakers.”
Rosalba also organizes field trips to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Brazil. “I want to give youth the chance to intimately experience the cultural diaspora of Latin America.”
“My ancestors, my roots, keeping alive the rituals and ceremonies. Nature.”
Rosalba is Reading:
Short articles on Native American people, including Hopi, Maya, and Inca. “The articles find me! I’ll be web surfing, and I’ll come upon something relevant. The web is more current and has more variety than books.”
Rosalba is Listening to:
World beat and Latin music
Rosalba is Watching:
Nature, especially near the Arboretum. “I notice the wind, the clouds. I follow the moon every month. Nature affects and informs my art. I pay attention to equinoxes and solstices, greeting and appreciating other cultures and what they do at specific times.”