The Importance of Music in Education and Why I joined Villa Musica’s Board of Directors - Café with Mario
Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Importance of Music in Education and Why I joined Villa Musica’s Board of Directors

Several years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the annual Guitar Festival and National Competition for Classical Guitar Performers in Paracho, Mexico.  Paracho is well known throughout both Mexico and elsewhere in the world as a hub of lutherie.  The entire town is almost exclusively devoted to making guitars and vihuelas.

During the weeklong event I was introduced to the Center for Guitar Research and Development (CIDEG) which, considering the importance of the guitar to the livelihood of the residents of Paracho, was conceived as a logical and necessary extension to promote the artistic culture that revolves around the guitar.  Having been built only a few years earlier in 1994, the building seemed to offer all the amenities one would expect of an educational research center, including a finely appointed and acoustically correct concert hall.

But what captured my attention above all was the guitar school which was founded just one year after the center opened with a mission to provide professional and free support to children with musical inclination in the guitar realm, offering comprehensive training consisting of classes in music theory, interpretation, assemblies, and rounded out by lectures and concerts by some of the best classical guitarists in the world.  After only three months of study students are already reading and performing guitar music scores.  I personally witnessed the school’s achievement when I was treated to an amazing performance by the CIDEG’s guitar orchestra.  Further I could see the impact this musical educational was having on these young children through their daily interaction with the faculty – I saw respect, dedication, and passion - and that experience was something I took with me when I left Paracho.  I would later go on to found GuitarAficionado together with one of the CIDEG faculty members and luthier, and although focused on an older age group, the emphasis of GuitarAficionado was always in education and advancement of the joy of guitar playing for “everyone, everywhere”, the original company tagline.

While my observations at the CIDEG guitar school may be anecdotal, scientific studies have shown that “learning to play an instrument or sing leads to changes in a child’s brain that make it more likely they will reach their full cognitive and academic potential” as is exposed in the poster from the Royal Conservatory of Music.  Albert Einstein once said “I often think in Music…I live my daydreams in music…The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition.” 

As a classical guitarist I can appreciate the impact music education has had on my academic life and beyond, and there is no doubt in my mind of the importance of music education.  It is with great angst that I see our local schools desperately reach out every year to parents and the community seeking out donations to enable offering music instruction to their students during the academic year.

Recently I was introduced to a local San Diego organization called Villa Musica ( and upon learning of the great strides the organization is making in providing music education in under-served communities it was only natural for me to accept the invitation to join their Board of Directors.

Founded in 2005 by Dr. Fiona Chatwin, Villa Musica is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to becoming San Diego County’s premiere music community.  With neighborhood sites located in under-served communities Villa Musica enables students to partake in music and who otherwise would not have that opportunity.  By creating a nurturing environment that educates and inspires, Villa Musica becomes a focal point for community music education where students and teachers can meet to exchange ideas and experience the joy of making music.   Villa Musica has over 30 faculty members providing both individual and group classes in more than 12 instruments plus voice to over 450 students of all ages and experience levels across various music genres.  Through supporting donations and community partnerships Villa Musica provides needs-based financial aid scholarships to students, instruments to participants, and supports local schools and senior living centers with classes and musical performances.

This year Villa Musica is marking its 10th anniversary and as part of the celebration has launched a special fundraising event which ends June 30th, 2015.  It is an honor to serve on the Board of Directors of Villa Musica and I look forward to lending my support as the organization embarks on the journey to another successful 10 years in bringing quality musical education, and spawning the many derived benefits thereof, to our local communities.

For more information on class programs and registration or to inquire on making a tax-deductible charitable contribution that may qualify for your company’s gift-matching program contact Villa Musica’s Executive Director, Dr. Fiona Chatwin by email at or by phone at 858.550.8100.  Donations can also be make online by visiting Villa Musica's website at

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Item Reviewed: The Importance of Music in Education and Why I joined Villa Musica’s Board of Directors Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Mario Larach