May 2017 marked the end of the first trimester of the Travel Songs Foundation's Sabino Luthier School in Cusco, Peru. Since January, the two students enrolled in the school have met weekly with Master Luthier Sabino Huaman and progressed from novice, yet eager, learners to intermediate wood workers -- hand-making traditional Andean instruments called charangos.
In order to get to the school each Saturday, students must drive between 8 - 9 hours from the town of Q'eros to Cusco. Aside from funding the tools, materials, and salaries for the school, The Travel Songs Foundation has provided the students with the transportation, gas, and lodging required to make the trip -- which crosses through diverse and difficult Andean terrain. Though the trip to class each week is daunting, the students have maintained an impressive 92% attendance rate and shown true enthusiasm in learning the art of instrument making. The video below was sent from one student named Hecton, 18, as he traveled to class during a snow storm in the Andes.
Prior to the school's launch, a curriculum with clear learning objectives and timelines was designed. Students have been working with lower-grade wood as they become acquainted with their tools and the principles involved in shaping the wood. They have learned to trace, cut, hollow, and shave the outside shell of the charango -- and in doing so, have met all the goals of the first trimester. Starting in June, the students will begin working with the finer woods (Orange and Cedar) and prepare to create their first professional-grade charangos.
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