In a workshop located in the courtyard of a house on the outskirts of Havana, among dogs and the scent of mango trees, the luthiers of the Guayabo socio-cultural project create traditional Cuban instruments.In Cuba private luthiers are unable to purchase wood suitable for making instruments. So the only way the Guayabo can do its job is to recycle raw materials, pieces of antique furniture found in remodeled churches in demolitions or in the trash.“In our country specialized wood for musical instruments like rosewood, pink wood and ivory are not sold. So with this wood we have here we can make up to 5 or 6 instruments.”With no school teaching the preparation or restoration of musical instruments, the skill has been passed on from family to family and from generation to generation.The artisans of Guayabo mainly construct three string trace guitars and Cuban lutes known as Louds, typical instruments of traditional Cuban music.
Classes with these instruments were recently introduced at music elementary schools.In 2014 when then President Raul Castro introduced new measures allowing more private enterprise,the Guayabo project signed a contract with the state-owned national center of art schools to provide instruments to some 37 centers throughout the country.“There are usually good quality instruments. They’re helping the kids with their training here at our Center.” They say that since then they’ve made about 550 instruments enough for every school in the country.“The first dream we had was for our instruments to be part of a music school,That is, for the children to walk past a music school and see a child playing. Look, one of our instruments. That’s the greatest joy we can have.”And their instruments are bringing that joy to students across Cuba.
Faith Lapidus VOA news