Students wowed by top performers

HARLINGEN — It’s the substance of things imagined, the reality of impassioned dreams.

A thought, words dancing through the mind born on a butterfly’s wing, a fragment of music on the wind seeking its refuge in a soul yearning.

Capture that melody at once on your phone or other recording device, and it’s yours to follow wherever it takes you, says Rodney Alejandro, a musician, songwriter and producer.

He was one of many music professionals who’d converged yesterday on Harlingen for the Grand Outreach Event presented by the Grammy Foundation at HCISD Performing Arts Center.

About 180 students from the Harlingen school district spent the day in workshops in the categories of technology, business, creative and production.

Professionals giving the workshops included such big names as famed Tejano star Roberto Pulido. Gabriel Alvarez, a singer/songwriter from Monterrey, also talked about his music career, which includes a Grammy nomination. Carlos Alvarez and Abby Chavarrilla talked about the business end of music.

Students were visibly taken by the experience.

“It’s going really good so far,” said Ethan Gonzalez, who’d just finished lunch from Jason’s Deli.

Ethan, 16, wants to be a music teacher some day, so he was a perfect fit for the Grammy event.

“I appreciate all the feedback I’ve been given by these well-known people from all over the country,” he said. “It’s been a great pleasure getting all this information and retaining it.”

Ethan was especially impressed with Pulido.

“He told us it’s nice to be important but it’s also important to be nice,” he said. “That really hit me.”

Pulido said that and so much more, and he appreciated the students’ responses to his presentation.

“It’s nice to come out here and speak to the students interested in pursuing a career as a musician in the music business,” he said. “I’ve been a musician going on 55 years, and we’ve already been through the ropes.”

He encouraged students to first earn a college degree because most musicians don’t achieve their dreams of musical stardom.

“It’s something to fall back on,” said Pulido, who himself has a college education and actually taught music for a couple of years.

“The questions they asked, it’s been very good, very positive,” he said.

Harlingen educators also were pleased.

“This was one of the greatest exhibitions of teaching and learning that I have ever seen,” said Ronnie Rios, director of music for the Harlingen school district.

“They provided information to kids that had their eyes and ears wide open,” he said.

Aspiring singer Ariana Castillo, 17, took several key points to ponder.

“I learned how to really step out of my comfort zone and make sure that I produce music that I want to produce,” said Ariana, a senior at Harlingen High School.

She expanded on this by explaining the importance of being original and not following whatever musical trends are in fashion at any given moment.

“The second thing was like the whole business aspect of it,” she said. “Because it’s not just about making music, it’s about profits and like, make sure somebody doesn’t rip you off.”

This is one of the points Lisa Morales, a singer/songwriter and producer, emphasized to the students.

“On the business part of it, make sure you take care of your rights,” she said. “Make sure you sign up with a performance rights organization so they can collect your money for you. Make sure you do the business part.”

She also spoke about the artistic plan and the importance of creating a work that makes people feel something.

And that ties in perfectly with Alejandro’s message that musicians must take possession of the music flowing through their minds.

“You say, ‘I’ve never heard that before, that kind of feels fresh,’” Alejandro said. “That’s the seed of a song. What I like to say is, there are songs out there in the ether. That means that there are things out there in the world that come into our heads.”

Certainly waves of knowledge swept through the students’ minds where they created a sort of kaleidoscopic rearranging of the shapes and patterns in their musical existence.

Perhaps that change would send their creative lives on a sort of metamorphic journey to approach their own dreams; their own unique artistry.