By ear or note, it is all music to Wohlrabe

(04-15-2010)

Juan Francisco, Juana Baltacar, and Marisol Lucas, learn the Guatemalan marimba from Josh Wohlrabe.

The first time Josh Wohlrabe heard a Guatemalan marimba he noticed the difference between it and an English marimba. "The Guatemalan marimba has a buzz sound, yet the musicians, working as a team, are able to make very beautiful music."

An Adams State College freshman music education major, Wohlrabe works alongside Guatemalan musician Andres Pedros at the Alamosa High School teaching marimba to interested student. "Andres is really cool. He knows the folk songs by ear and I know how to read notes, we are both learning and teaching together."

The two are employed through the SLV Immigrant Resource Center. Antonio Sandoval, community coordinator Voces del Valle, said they co-teach students of Guatemalan descent. "We want the children to learn their native instrument. Josh is great with the students."

As a member of the Immigrant Resource Center's educational outreach committee, James Doyle, assistant professor of music, was given the opportunity to mentor a student to co-teach Guatemalan marimba at Alamosa High School. "Knowing the importance of this cultural and educational opportunity, Josh was the first student who came to mind." Wohlrabe meets with Doyle weekly to discuss the progress of the program, as well as his teaching and recruiting strategies. "In addition to gaining valuable teaching experiences, he's also interacting with the immigrant community and learning about the rich musical traditions of Guatemala."

Wohlrabe said it is "cool" to learn the Guatemalan folk music. "It is totally different from what we learn in the classroom." He believes learning a different cultures' music helps foster respect and understanding. "For centuries, the Guatemalan folk songs have been passed down."

He credits Doyle for his reason to attend Adams State. "Professor Doyle is great. He knows so much and is very supportive." From Peyton, Colo., Wohlrabe said he enjoys percussion because of the diversity of instruments and the "expressive" sounds. He participates in the concert band, percussion ensemble, marching band, pep band, and the drum line.

"Josh is one of those students you meet and you know you need to recruit. I was relieved the day he committed to attend ASC," Doyle said.

Wohlrabe is taking 16 credit hours this semester and practices an average of two hours a day. He said he still gets "stage fright" before performing but remembers what a high school band teacher told him. "He said, 'the beautiful thing about live music is it only happens once. It will never be the same again, so make it the best it can be while you are given the chance.'"

"You'd be hard pressed to find a harder working, conscientious, and professional student than Josh," Doyle said. "He has a wonderful demeanor, takes each lesson, class, and rehearsal seriously, and will definitely be a success story."

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By Linda Relyea