BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Students in grades 2 through 5 at Mountain Park Elementary School were treated to a cultural and musical experience on Wednesday, April 23 as part of the Mountain Park PTO’s cultural arts program in conjunction with the elementary Spanish program.
Andes Manta, a group of four brothers who are professional musicians from Quito, Ecuador, performed the vibrant music of the Andes Mountains in the Inca tradition on more than 35 instruments. The instruments, made by hand, range from wind instruments known as ocarinas, antara, rondador and palla pipes, to strings such as the guitar, bandolin and charango, and percussion, including a variety of drums, chajchas, seeds and bells.
Students were mesmerized by the music of the Lopez brothers with its strong beat, haunting tunes, and powerful rhythms that often imitated such sounds as the wind, rain, thunder, and birds of the Amazon rain forest. Seeking to preserve the traditions of their ancestors using music to convey their ancestors' stories and wisdom, Andes Manta also hopes to promote cultural understanding between the people of their South American homeland and the people of modern North America through their music.
After the assembly, all fourth graders received kits and participated in a workshop to make their own pallas, or panpipes, thanks to a grant from the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation awarded to “Señora” Mariann Tierney, Spanish teacher at Mountain Park.
Under the direction of the musicians, students were taught to assemble the panpipes and then perform a traditional Andean song together. The Andes Manta experience was especially meaningful to Mountain Park Spanish students since they are learning about the people, animals, plants, and especially the importance of the rain forest in Mrs. Tierney’s classes as part of a rain forest unit she has developed and integrated into the elementary Spanish curriculum. Students are greatly concerned about rainforest destruction and are working to raise money to help protect it by selling handmade rainforest animal rock creations and unique spinning tops made from recycled CDs and plastic bottle caps which they have been collecting.
The Mountain Park Student Council is also participating by hanging posters, selling bookmarks, and collecting donations in classrooms. All money raised will be donated to The Rainforest Trust – Kids 4 Rainforests Organization to save real rain forest acreage: For every $100 raised, an acre is saved forever! (https://www.rainforesttrust.org/kids-4-rainforests/)