Gustavo Adrián Páez (“el indio”) and Gustavo Adrián Neira (“el motoneta”) created “Copa y Vida” that is based on “four handed guitar” – two people playing one guitar. Both artists come from a vulnerable, violent and dangerous zone (Chimbas) of San Juan, Argentina. Playing guitar has been their way to having a healthier life. Now they would like to share their history and create a school to teach young students from vulnerable populations. They teach different groups in neighbourhoods surrounding the capital of San Juan: Carpintería (50 kilometers away), Valle Grande (20 kilometers away) and in downtown San Juan. Currently they teach about 40% girls and 60% boys. They travel to the towns, borrow spaces for classrooms, and raise occasional funds with parties and community generosity.
Gustavo, Adrián are deeply rooted in their communities. Their approach is made from place. They play and teach the music that speaks to the people around them. They are engaged with, supported by, and give back to their community.
Agustin Ibanez is a professor of neuroscience in the Universidad Adolfo Ibanez (BrainLat, Chile) and Trinity college Dublin. Dominic Campbell a Cultural Producer based in Ireland (and project lead of artsandbrain.com). Both are part of the Global Brain Health Institute (www.gbhi.org) and Atlantic Fellowship (www.atlanticfellowship.org).
Together Gustavo, Adrián, Agustin and Dominic have been exploring how brain health positive education, which can reduce the potential for brain disease in later life and help communities support people with brain diseases, be brought to young people through music education in Chimbas.
At the same time, they identify and articulate the many already existing community assets: “brain health positive” activities and behaviour are already inherent in the work of Copa Y Vida and their community. This includes approaches based on empathy, the mobilisation of social capital, and collaboration vis safe environments for the young people.
The resilience of challenged communities is often dependent on creativity rooted in these behaviours and values. Some people create to express themselves, others create to live. Communities already have much to teach. There are countless initiatives that fight inequity in isolation at the community level that need help to make them known. With informed and open approaches, it is possible to promote and generate feedback between them.
Music has multiple benefits for brain health. It activates multiple brain processes. The brain gains different benefits from listening, playing, composing, and playing together. Notes, rhythms and frequencies, familiar tunes or learning new music animate and exercise the brain in ways science only partially understands. Music relaxes or animates us. People living with Alzheimer’s disease often respond to music when other senses fade. Learning guitar can nurture self-discipline, encourage focused attention, even promote self-care. Teaching music recognises sensation and emotion is a key element of growth in human development. It encourages rather than discourages self-directed learning, curiosity, imagination and empathy.
Accelerating the eradication of inequities is the work of authentic collaboration. It requires local activity and the best information available from around the world to be in harmony. Copa Y Vida are only just getting started.