Making music at Plum Canyon

Students in Liz Hand's second grade class at Plum Canyon Elementary play flutes created by Martin Espino during a performance on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Using traditional flutes they constructed and decorated themselves, second grade students at Plum Canyon Elementary School shared their knowledge of Native American music during a special performance Wednesday.

The performance was the culmination of eight weeks of lessons from Martin Espino, a musician, instrument maker, artist and teacher who partners with schools through College of the Canyon’s Performing Arts Center’s PAC K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program.

“We learned about breathing and practiced techniques,” Espino said. “We also learned how to make up our own music and melodies based on sentence structures, which helps the kids with their language skills.”

Students also spent time learning about the history of flutes, singing in Mayan and understanding the culture of indigenous groups from North, Central and South America.

“He’s knowledgeable and knows what he’s talking about,” said Linda Candib, an arts education specialist at the Santa Clarita PAC. “Schools love him, children are totally engaged by him and love the work that he does. They appreciate his sense of humor and he knows how to connect with kids.”

Students in Liz Hand’s second grade glass at Plum Canyon Elementary use drums to recreate the sound of thunder during a performance on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

During Wednesday’s performance, students in Liz Hand’s second grade class performed a collective melody with their flutes as well as Native songs from California, Arizona, Brazil and the Mayans.

With drums, rain sticks, clappers, seashells, turtle shells, flutes and voices, the students shared their new knowledge of rhythms, melodies, articulation and control while singing and sharing their music.

A large lesson they learned was how to control their breath while playing their flutes using long and short breaths.

“The breathing that they’re doing is enough to power the flute,” Espino said to the crowd of parents. “Short breaths are used to articulate and pronounce the notes.”

Through the education program, Espino hopes the students remember to respect other cultures and music.

“I hope they learn an appreciation for other cultures and learn to look into their own and appreciate their own,” Espino said.

In addition to the program at Plum Canyon, Espino presented similar flute making educational workshops at Charles Helmers Elementary and Northpark Elementary during the past eight weeks.

Martin Espino uses an instrument to sneak up on a student by making the sound of a large cat during a performance at Plum Canyon Elementary on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

He also presents additional programs in classes that include Ancient California classes, Native American music classes, afterschool programs and school residencies.

“One of the things that is so impressive about Martin is impact,” Candib said.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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