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Old 09-01-2006, 02:48 PM
Richie_Rumbero Richie_Rumbero is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York City
Posts: 11
Hi Victoria!

I'll have to respond to your questions spearately as it won't allow me to do so in one single post....

Originally Posted by vm2110
What was going on in the 70s when johnny colon's school *and* the Harbor were both formed? Were these the first attempts to institutionalize latin music?

The various musical elements that encompass what is referred to as "Latin Music" have been institutionalized in the past in countries such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, etc. The USA, however, has been another matter. Prior to Johnny Colón's East Harlem Music School and Boys & Girls Harbor Music Conservatory, there were classes being offered that were strictly revolved around percussion within certain Community Centers and Youth Centers. One example was an African-American percussionist who went by the name of Montego Joe, who developed a drumming class at a place called the Harlem Youth Center. So pleased with his students was Joe, that he brought them into the recording studio and recorded an entire LP. The ensemble was baptized as the HAR-YOU PERCUSSION GROUP (With the HAR-YOU being short for "Harlem Youth"). You also had individuals independently teaching the rudiments of afro-cuban percussion. Folks like Humberto Morales, Ubaldo Nieto, Frankie Malabe, amongst many others, would provide instruction that wasn't being provided in prominent musical conservatories or university music programs. This independent instruction also included the areas of Guitar, Brass, Woodwind and Piano. In fact, the very first instructor of Latin-oriented music in New York City was a Puertorican woman, who also went by the name of Victoria (Hernandez), whom taught her students how to play the piano. Among her first students were two pre-teens named Ernest Anthony "Tito" Puente and Joe "Loco" Estevez. There were also books that specifically dealt with instruction in latin percussion. One of the foremost was one authored by Henry Adler, whose students were among the many who would emerge within the latin music pantheon such as Manny Oquendo and Mike Collazo Sr.

Johnny Colón created the first educational and instructional institution (or at least that I'm aware of) in the United States that was squarely revolved around Latin Music. Not just "Salsa," but the music from Brazil, Puerto Rico, Colombia, etc. And the instructors were the very same musicians who were in the trenches within the Latin Music New York scene at the time. I'm not sure if this was Johnny's original intent, but aside from creating an educational platform for the music, he also managed to provide a secondary income stream for working musicians as teachers.

It's important to note that the Boys Harbor facility in East Harlem and the Music department headed by Ramon Rodriguez were two separate entities at one point. Ramon Rodriguez was leader of an ensemble known as Orquesta Yambu. He then abandoned the latin music playing circuit and devoted himself to music education. He developed a similiar curriculum as Johnny Colón in the late 1970s, and also included working musicians in the "Salsa" scene to provide instruction to prospective students. Although his particular "school" was located, at the time, on the Lower East Side. In the 1980s, he relocated his school and moved it into the building it currently is found in on 104th & 5th Avenue and integrated his program into the Boys Harbor Not-For-Profit Performing Arts School. So the Ramon Rodriguez Music School is now officially known as The Boys & Girls Harbor Music Conservatory. Which is one wing or department of the much larger Boys & Girls Harbor School of the Performing Arts, which includes instruction and development in both Theater and Dance.

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