York School News

Student Reflection: Havana Music Trip

Ella F. & Jadon L.
Grade 9 student Ella and Grade 10 student Jadon share and reflect on their experiences from the music trip to Havana this past February.
On February 18th, all 52 students plus Ms. Drysdale, Mr. Biagiarelli, Mr. MacFarlane, Mr. Pittman, Mr. Hamilton, and Ms. Pielsticker boarded the plane and headed to Cuba. We got to Cuba pretty late so we got our rooms and a little bag with food, and went straight to bed so we would be rested for the long jam-packed day ahead.

On the first day, we got to tour the city with our wonderful tour guides. First, we stopped by the Parque Histórico del Morro, where a historic park is located across the harbour channel from Old Havana.
Then, after a bus tour around the city, we stopped for a walking tour in Old Town Havana, where we roamed the streets surrounded by citizens and tourists alike.  After stopping by a local restaurant for lunch, we then got our tour of Modern Havana, which included stopping at Revolution Square. Finally, in the evening, we set out to a nearby hotel and performed for the guests in the lobby. Overall, a great start to this trip. 

On our second day, we got the great opportunity to be involved in a percussion and latin rhythms workshop by Novel Voz. We learned the different types of rhythms involved in Latin music and got the chance to try them out for ourselves using congas, claves, guiro, maracas, shekere, and our very own hands. Novel Voz performed for us and then we ate lunch with them. We then went to Amadeo Roldan Arts High School which was probably one of the biggest highlights of the trip. We got the pleasure to see these students perform and then they got to watch us.  Finally we headed back to the hotel before we left for our late-night Latin Rhythms and Band Choreography Workshop with Daia, a professional band director. We worked with her for countless hours which paid off in perfecting the piece which we will be performing today. 

On the third day, we had the pleasure of participating in an Afro-Cuban song and dance workshop, where we were invited to watch various performances by the people there and then learn a bit about how to dance. After stopping by a local restaurant for lunch, we got a chance to go to an Artisan’s market where a collection of boutiques were housed in a restored 18th-century colonial palace. Afterward, we had the opportunity to perform for people at the Casa de la Cultura, and then watch other performances with a little dance at the end too. That evening we had a delicious dinner at the hotel and then had some time to ourselves to enjoy the night breeze.

On our last full day, we got straight to work when we went to visit the A.G. Caturla Arts High School. 
We got to perform for them and then we got up and danced while they performed for us. The students were so friendly and kind and even gave some of us little tokens of their love like drawings, bracelets, and more.  After we boarded the bus, we headed to our second favourite stop of the trip, the Community Centre, where tons of kids sang for us. We were greeted by them right as we hopped off the bus and held their hands to walk to where they performed. After they performed, we did tons of dancing and just had a great time as a group.  Later that night we left the hotel to attend our farewell dinner but what we didn't know was that a few of the kids from the Community Centre would be there to surprise us. We sat with the kids and ate until the one and only Frank got up to get us started on dancing. We danced for the rest of the night. There wasn't a person in sight who didn't have a smile on their face. As the night came to an end we were all so sad to be leaving what had been our home for the past 4 days.

On the 23rd we woke up bright and early for our flight home. We were all really sad to be leaving, but will never forget this wonderful trip. We learned many wonderful things, from dancing and playing to Cuban rhythm and music, and got to experience and try tons of things we wouldn't otherwise get to do here in the classroom. From the food to the performances, we had a blast.  We will never forget Mr. MacFarlane’s handstand at the farewell dinner. And definitely not little Frank and his killer moves. We wanna give a huge thanks to all the teachers and parents who made this trip possible.
If you want to come get a taste of Cuba, join us at Arts Night on April 19th as we feature guest vocalist Yani Borrell and percussionist Roberto Linares Brown!

Visit The York School Facebook Page for more photos. 

About the York School

Canada's first gender-inclusive independent IB World School
The York School is a gender-inclusive JK to Grade 12 independent school located in the heart of Toronto. The York School was founded in 1965 and is the first school in Canada accredited to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) from junior kindergarten (JK) to university entrance. As an IB World School, The York School's motto is Experientia Docet or Experience Teaches.

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