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Fallbrook woman coordinates music camp for Nicaraguan children

FALLBROOK – The rambling 49 square mile rural community of Chacraseca, Nicaragua, doesn’t have much. The average family’s dollar a day income barely covers rice and beans, leaving many without clean water, electricity, schoolbooks, accessible roads, and all but the most basic of material possessions.

However, the people have big hearts and dreams, with one of their biggest dreams being to have music in their schools. Happily, that dream is a reality thanks to the mission project of a Fallbrook woman and the United Church of the Valley in Murrieta.

Lynne Bradley, a Fallbrook resident who is music director for the church, coordinated with teachers Myrna Jones and Corina Wolfe to bring the first music camp to the town in June.

A group from the church spent a week in Chacraseca, which is approximately seven miles from the city of Leon.

While a team of builders, including Rev. Joe Zarro, constructed a simple house for a family, nearly 75 9 to 15-year-old students and their teachers gave up their vacation week to participate in the music camp. Students learned several new songs, perfected others already in their repertoire and managed to harmonize by the end of the week.

The students were divided into groups to learn to play recorders, percussion (on plastic buckets) and hand chimes.

“The camp was an amazing success. The kids improved so much. After the first morning, we had to change many of our plans because they were responding so well,” said Bradley, who helped with the hand chimes and led the singing. “Matching pitch and keeping a steady beat are concepts that need to be taught; they don’t come naturally to most children.”

Allison Wolfe, this year’s valedictorian from Temecula Valley High School, did a great job working with the recorder group. At the concert at the end of the week, the group successfully played several songs.

The kids loved playing games with David Ruby, a high school senior from Fullerton who worked with teen boys to help them find their “hombre voz.”

Reflecting on his experience at the end of the week, 14-year old Ricardo said “This week I’ve discovered that I can sing!”

Ben Perrault, a recent high school graduate from Tulsa, Okla., and a very talented percussionist, worked with the “bucket brigade” and brought them from banging away the first day to actually playing rhythms together.

Teaching conditions were challenging in Chacraseca. With no air-conditioning, frequent power failures, storms, meager supplies and, for some, hunger, it’s hard for both students and teachers to concentrate. But, the kids were resilient and eager to participate.

The music lessons will continue in Chacraseca; the church has paid the salary of a local music teacher who teaches full-time in four of the schools.

“I return home more committed than ever that the music program we are enabling is worthy of our continued support,” said Bradley.

Individuals interested in insuring that music continues in Chacraseca can make a donation to cover one month’s salary of $145 online at


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