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Ep. 9 Sonia De Los Santos and the Joy of Musical Voice

Sonia de los Santos

Sonia De Los Santos (photo by Mikel Melcon)

Play is a rich site for cultivating creativity, empathy, voice, and finding out who we are. Sonia De Los Santos is an award-winning Children's music artist who models the essence of play, creativity, joy, and voice through her music. In this episode, we explore her music, listening to sounds of Cumbia and Son Jarocho, while simultaneously exploring her lyrics and her empowering outreach to children. 

Keywords: playfulness, son jarocho, cumbia, children's music, creativity, voice, imagination

Sonia de los Santos was born and raised in Monterray Mexico. In 2015 she released her first solo family music album titled, Mi Viaje: De Nuevo Leon to the New York Island. a collection of songs that reflect her experiences growing up in Mexico, moving to another country, learning about other cultures, and in the process, feeling closer to her own heritage. Sonia has been hailed by Billboard as "one of the Latin Children's music artists you should know." Her album Allegria was recently nominated for a Latin Grammy within the category of Best Latin Children's Album.

Listen on Apple Podcasts


Sonia De Los Santos Website

Ellas Podcast Interview with Sonia De Los Santos

Feldman, D. (2019). Children’s play in the shadow of war. American Journal of Play, 11(3), 288-307.

Haynes, J., & Murris, K. (2013). The realm of meaning: Imagination, narrative and playfulness in philosophical exploration with young children. Early Child Development and Care, 183(8), 1084-1100. doi: 10.1080/03004430.2013.792256

Kohm, K. E., Holmes, R. M., Romeo, L., & Koolidge, L. (2016). The connection between shared storybook readings, children’s imagination, social interactions, affect, prosocial behavior, and social play. International Journal of Play, 5(2), 128-140. doi: 10.1080/21594937.2016.1203895

Oatley, K., Dunbar, R., & Budelmann, F. (2018). Imagining possible worlds. Review of General Psychology, 22(2), 121-124. doi: 10.1037/gpr0000149

Ramsbotham, O., Woodhouse, T., & Miall, H. (2011). Contemporary conflict resolution (3rd ed.) Malden, MA: Polity Press.

Russ, S. W., & Fiorelli, J. A. (2010). Developmental approaches to creativity. In The Cambridge handbook of creativity (pp. 233-249). New York, NY : Cambridge University Press.

Severson, R. L., & Woodard, S. R. (2018). Imagining others’ minds: The positive relation between children’s role play and anthropomorphism. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1-16. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02140

Tsai, K. C. (2012). Play, imagination, and creativity: A brief literature review. Journal of Education and Learning, 1(2), 15-20. doi: 10.5539/jel.v1n2p15 


Discussion Questions

Anchor 1

1) Not all play seems to stimulate empathy, imagination, compassion, and creativity. Screentime for example, seems to have negative consequences in areas of connection and as related to the cultivation of the Default Mode within Neurobiology. What makes storybook reading and music a special kind of play?

2) How do we cultivate a sense of wonder and discovery in our teaching and musicking?

3) How might we adopt a spirit of playfulness in resolving and transforming conflicts?

4) What seems to be the interrelationship between joy, voice, and imagination?


Sonia:              00:00          Child to find their voice. Isn't that like the best thing that could happen to kids? You know, in the time where, I don't know. You know, I just want people to, to find happiness in who they are and to feel empowered, to be proud of who they are and to be able to talk about it without feeling scared or feeling, um, less than anyone else.

Shorner-Johnson:    00:22          You were listening to the music and peacebuilding podcast, a professional development network at music peacebuilding dot com exploring intersections of peacebuilding, sacredness, community, creativity and imagination through research and story. Sonia de Los Santos was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. In 2015 she released her first solo family music album titled Mi Viaje, De Nuevo Leon to the New York Island, a collection of songs that reflect her experiences growing up in Mexico, moving to another country, learning about other cultures and in the process feeling closer to her own heritage. Sonia has been hailed by. Billboard is one of the Latin children's music artists you should know. And her album, Allegría was recently nominated for a Latin Grammy within the category of best Latin children's album because so many of Sonia songs are gifts of playfulness, voice and joy. This episode we'll explore the peacebuilding implications of musical playfulness, joy, and voice. As I prepared for this interview, my children, Joel and Leah told me that there was no way I was going to interview their childhood hero, Sonia de Los Santos without them present. So, we start with their questions.

Child:              01:46          How did you learn music?

Sonia:              01:51          Well, I grew up in a very musical house because my, uh, my mom loves to sing. So since I was very young, around your age, maybe even younger, I remember listening to my mother sing in the house all the time. Um, you know, while we could, well, we cleaned, we would sing on our way to school in the car. Car rides were always about listening to the radio or a tape, back in the day and singing along. Um, I think I learned to too, to sing in harmony with the radio at some point. I figured out how to sing over, over something else. Also, um, just listening to music, I didn't have any formal musical training. Um, only, uh, singing technique, uh, when I started when I was in high school. And, um, and that's everything else I've kind of learned through the people that I've collaborated with. Uh, I've taken, I took some guitar classes and then I just kind of, uh, try to learn on my own. Uh, and then I picked up the jarana, I think I'm extended enough my response, but it's been very organic in a way that I didn't go to school for music. I've just really taken my experiences and then learning from other people.

Shorner-Johnson:    03:18          Well, Leah do you want to ask your question?

Child:              03:20          How did you decide that you wanted to make music for kids?

Sonia:              03:25          Great question. I didn't know I wanted to make music for kids, but then when I got to New York, um, I was doing different things. I actually wanted to do musical theater. That's something you, you might not know. But I love musical theater and it's like when I first came to New York, I did a workshop at a musical theater school and I was just auditioning for different, different things. And then I got a call from Dan Zanes office. Uh, they were looking for someone to join their band, uh, and uh, specifically for someone who had Spanish as their first language. So I knew I had that and that I could play a little bit of guitar and sing in English too. So, um, so I, uh, after I joined the band and I traveled with Dan and saw what it meant to, uh, to sing for children and families, I just fell in love with the idea and I really liked it. And then, um, years after that I started to put together my project, which was, you know, which is family music, but you know, with the Latin American background, which is what, what I thought I could offer.

Child:              04:38          What was it like to grow up in Mexico?

Sonia:              04:43          Ooh, it's really fun. I, I had a really nice childhood. I could, I had neighbors who live nearby. I grew up in a, in a big city too. So sometimes when we hear a Mexico we're thinking, you know, of somewhere really remote and I grew up in the city in a big city, big industrial city. Um, and I grew up in a house with a backyard. That's something I don't have here. And, uh, and, and you know, I was very close to my family and I had neighbors nearby. The food is great. I grew up in a city called Monterrey and it's very close to the border with the United States. So even though I grew up speaking Spanish, I also grew up learning English. So that was really helpful because when I moved here, everything I had learned, I think I put into it, played a role into surviving here as a musician. And as a newcomer to the city.

Shorner-Johnson:    05:43          You had your own question you wanted to ask her.

Child:              05:45          So are you inspired by Celia Cruz?

Sonia:              05:50          I am inspired by Celia Cruz. Of course. Actually on my first album, Mi Viaje, I have a song called Burundanga. And, uh, and I learned, uh, Celia didn't write that song, but she kind of made it famous. I heard a recording of her singing that song and I just loved it. And so it's in my album and it has a message of peace really. And, um, it's, it's, you know, an acceptance song and it's a song that says love, you know, love one another and sort of respect one another. And so yeah, of course. And she's, you know, beautiful singer. She's a woman, just powerful. So I feel like we're all just very inspired with her work.

Speaker 4:          06:37          Do want to say anything else?

Speaker 3:          06:40          Yeah, we're huge fans of the music, right? Thanks for listening to my song. Like every time we go into the car, Joel's like, let's listen to Sonia de los Santos!

Sonia:              06:52          Oh My Gosh, that's so cool, thank you!

Speaker 5:          06:57          Music --

Shorner-Johnson:    07:22          I love that so many of your songs seem to be about birds and so I thought I might start there, uh, from reading your, from reading your lyrics, I hear that birds for you seem to capture a sense of wonder, maybe freedom journey exploration and also a sense of home. And I, I'm particularly interested in La Golondrina, which, which you, write I am a traveling bird looking for a place to nest. That's how I came to foreign lands. But I must never forget that family comes first and I should take care of them. And so I was wondering if you might tell us about kind of the memories of journey and your grandmother that seemed to be embedded in the song.

Sonia:              07:58          Yeah. you make me cry. Um, yes. you know that song is very special to me because it's actually the first song that I wrote thinking about this project. Um, and sort of where I wanted to start telling my story and you know, I had no idea where it was going to go. Um, but the, it's kind of the beginning and it comes from a, from an actual memory of sitting in my grandmother's porch. She lived, not in my city. She lived in a city called, Piedras Negras. It's a border town in Mexico, a border with Eagle pass, Texas. And, and she had a porch and on her porch there was this nest with birds. Uh, and, and I, every summer I would go, or like every few months I would, I would go and visit her and, you know, she, you know, as I usually say in the concerts, um, you know, one day I went back and there were no birds there.

Sonia:              08:58          And I asked her, just said, Oh, they are Golondrinas, that's what they do. They are migrant birds. And I was like, what? What does that mean? And she told me all about it. Um, and, and something that I never mentioned, but since you're interested, so her house was in a corner. And so the line to go to the United States, there's cars, they're going by. Like I can see the cars that are going all the time. So now looking back, I feel like I, I see all the symbolism in that conversation and how I kind of forgot about it. And then many years later I was like, Whoa, I that maybe I'm a Golondrina. That's a nice way to explain to children you know, what a migrant bird is and, and, and, you know, they, you know, just people as birds can, can travel anywhere. And, and so I thought that was, you know, it's a very personal story, but I feel like a lot of people can, can connect to that, you know, no matter what age they are. So yeah, there's a common thing about birds and also there's the Mariposa, the second album people Montuna you know, the uh, you know, dedicated to the Monarch butterflies. I've make also that, that, you know, travel that journey. So I feel very connected to that and, and then, and it feels very, very organic to talk about migration in the, you know using this, this, uh, metaphors and, and using birds.

Speaker 4:          10:35          It's a metaphor to me that has a sense of wonder to it, which is a, it's a really nice addition to the idea of migration.

Shorner-Johnson:    10:42          Sonia de Los Santos, his lyrics express journey through the wonder of birds and butterflies when children enter intimate relationships with animals real and imaginary. These acts Severenson and Woodard, right, are spaces where children playfully explore imaginations of empathy in many of her songs. Sonia imagines into relationship with birds and butterflies, building empathy, wonder and a possibility that the story of migration can be a beautiful journey of discovery.

Speaker 4:          11:19          Ah, in a different song about a hummingbird you write of joy and gratitude. Looking at so much green in looking at your city and then it, and then I love how it moves to a beautiful closure where it says yellow hummingbird you carry love from flower to flower. That's how you lighten up my heart filled with so much inspiration. Um, I want to talk about the style of Son Jarocho in a second, but first, can you tell us about the inspiration of that song?

Sonia:              11:45          Yeah. Actually that song, uh, I was on top of a mountain in, uh, in Bogotá in Columbia actually not in, uh, and I was with Martin who's my co-producer and co-writer of all the songs for the drummer in our band. And we had had our, Jarana over there. We went to top of the mountain. And just this hummingbird came like straight straight in front of us and was like flying really fast, you know, and we could see the city, it's a huge city and you know, green, green all around us and trees and you know, these beautiful, beautiful, uh, landscape. And so we started writing the song, there Cuanto verde tengo para mi velar, Cuanto verde tengo..

Sonia:              12:32          how much green I can enjoy and you know, I look at and I enjoy and then just, you know, the, the hummingbird, so beautiful how, you know, they have their anatomy is perfect for, to go from flower to flower and you know, it's just the sense of wonder and curiosity too. And I went and researched about hummingbirds and because I was like, this is a yellow hummingbird. I've never seen one like that in Mexico. We have some that are like, uh, like blue and green. And They're like a little shiny, but there's different kinds of hummingbirds. And apparently the one we saw is very special in that Colombian region. So that's where that song came to be.

Speaker 6:          13:17          So you use cafe con pan? Yeah. Repeatedly in the closing of that song, which I've also used to teach code students about kind of the African influenced backbone of that genre of music Son Jarocho. Um, but for music teachers out there who don't have maybe an extensive training in Son Jarocho, can you introduce us about what this genre is and how you introduce it to children?

Sonia:              13:41          Yes. So Son Jarocho is a genre that, um, that is from the Southern coast of Mexico, Southeast of Mexico, primarily the States of the States, just state, uh, uh, Veracruz. Uh, there's, it happens also in other States around there, but its primarily from there. And, uh, it's a mix of three different cultures. Our indigenous roots, uh, the African influence and the Spanish influence. Um, so, so we have this guitars, the guitar, I, um, I play at shows. It's, uh, I play a regular six string guitar, but I also play the jarana. [inaudible] which is a traditional Mexican guitar, that its kind of like a Baroque instrument when the first guitars came from Spain. And then, uh, the natives, uh, in Mexico also transport them a little bit. That's like where jaranas were made. And so this genre has those instruments. It's, you know, the percussion in it. It's very influenced by the African rhythms and the Spanish rhythms too and from Southern Spain primarily like [], Santa Lucia. And so we, we use the café con pan which means coffee with bread too, to teach their rhythm of the dancing. It's a very, Son Jarocho's very percussive. And so we, we play that rhythm with the jarana, but we also play that rhythm with our feet on top of a wooden platform that, the tarima and we do a dance called the zapateado.

Sonia:              15:19          Zapato means shoe, so zapateado is the dance on top of that wooden platform and so the rhythm is cafe con pan, I actually have a study guide in my website that, that has a little workshop for that, I don't know if you...

Speaker 4:          15:33          Yeah, I saw that.

Sonia:              15:34          Yeah. So it just breaks it down of like left, left, right, left, right, right. Left. Right. So, you know, in a way, but there's, there's many different videos in YouTube and different places where, you know, educators can look that up. For example, that La Bamba is one of the main songs that came to the United States that was made famous here, but it's originally in that Son Jarocho genre. Yeah. And I, and that, you know, I from Mexican music, that's something that really speaks to my heart, like that instrumentation. And so, uh, we've written some songs that use that particular style. Um, and I, I love it, cause I love it because I can introduce the instruments and I also can introduce the genre and, and you know, the, when you, when you hear all those instruments and the dance and everything, it *really* brings you somewhere else. Um, and so that's what I'm hoping kids can be exposed to with the music.

Shorner-Johnson:    16:34          Let's listen to a segment of Colibri Amarillo

Speaker 7:          16:36          [music]

Speaker 5:          16:44          [music]

Shorner-Johnson:    17:24          so in a very similar manner, you use La Maraca to tell us about the style of Columbian Cumbia. What makes Cumbia, Cumbia? And what advice do you have to teachers who might want to introduce students to this style and heritage? So,

Sonia:              17:38          Cumbia, Cumbia is all over the American continent. Really, it's a, it's the backbone they say of, you know, Latin music. Uh, it became so popular, but a, it's originally from the country of Columbia. Uh, and in the same way, you know, there's Cumbia roots that are played with the gaita and the flutes, uh, which I feature in the other song Mariposa Montuna in, um, from, from the CD Allegria. Yeah. But Cumbia, Cumbia, you know, in a way, the way it's presented in LA Maraca, it's all about, you know, making the instrument the Maraca, the Maraca is very crucial to the, to the Cumbia roots in combos. Um, and like I said, the genre has evolved in so many ways. You know, people, people in Argentina, with uh, you know, in a different way. Or in Mexico, even where I grew up in Monterrey, I listened to Cumbia when I was growing up. It was more that Cumbia de accordion, that diatonic accordion, which we also have, uh, in our, in our band to bring that, that sound, uh, too, yeah, it's mainly from Columbia and it's so danceable and it's easier to dance than son Jarocho too, for sure. I feel like people can move to it a little bit easier. If you were to follow, a and its an instant crowd pleaser.

Speaker 5:          19:01          [music of La Maraca]

Shorner-Johnson:    19:36          I encourage you to watch the new video of La Maraca on YouTube because Sonia de Los Santos' videos are a theater of joy and playfulness play as a critical part of solving impossible conflicts and disagreements Ramsbotham Woodhouse and Mial, write that instead of seeking to control outcomes, successful conflict resolution and transformation adopts playfulness as a way of exploring possibilities and opening minds toward peace. Maybe our children and children's music have much to teach us about the wisdom of playfulness.

Shorner-Johnson:    20:16          So let's turn to Alegria. Among the foundations of our approach to peacebuilding is the idea of empowering voices and inspiring imaginations. And from that background of peacebuilding, I can't tell you about how much I love Allegria because it talks about a light that's within children. It talks about using voices to make an impact and the crowing of gratitude in the sunrise. I was wondering about how you went about deciding to associate joy with empowering voice in the same song.

Sonia:              20:47          Well, it came from, from, uh, from that memory that I, you know, that I exclusively say in the well, in the song specifically Allegria. Um, and it's, it's a true story. My mom says that I, uh, that I, I was born with a smile on my face and Sonia, you, you had a smile from the moment you, you were out in the world. And I, you know, I'm always a little skeptical and I'm like, mom, all, all babies are crying when they're born. We're, we're brought into this world crying. What are you talking about? She says, yeah, well, you know, you cried a little bit, but from the moment like you opened your eyes and you saw the world around you, you were happy to be in the world, in the very beginning. And, and it's something that has stayed with me. And so, you know, we all have sad times and not only adults, kids have bad days of school.

Sonia:              21:38          And I'm totally aware of that. And I thought, well, how about this idea if I know I was born with a smile on my face, who says that I don't have the power to bring that smile, any day? Anytime, when I think about about being born with a smile, you know, that makes me happy, that makes me think I'm capable of pursuing my happiness. Right. And, and I don't think it's an elevated concept, you know, I think kids can totally get behind that so that the power is, is, you know, it's in here, you know, I have that light. And whenever, when I was growing up, whenever my mom would see me sad for any reason, she would suggest that I sing, which is something that that gets me so emotional because she knew that that made me happy. Uh, you know, kids can, you know, can maybe ride their bikes or read a book or, you know, do anything else. But, but trying to find the things that bring us joy in our lives so we can, you know, stay positive even in hard times.

Shorner-Johnson:    22:37          So what does it mean for you, for a child to find their voice?

Sonia:              22:42          child to find their voice? Isn't that like the best thing that could happen to kids, you know, in a time where, where, um, I don't know. You know, I just want people to, to find happiness in who they are and to feel empowered to be proud of who they are and to be able to talk about it without feeling, without feeling scared or feeling less than anyone else, you know. And that, you know, we can translate that into speaking another language for example. Um, that's why I encourage kids do to speak Spanish and to, to sing in Spanish. Because I know a lot of children in my audience are learning Spanish as a second language. But I also know that there's kids who are, um, who children from, from immigrants in this country that are trying to hold onto their roots and trying to, you know, parents are trying to encourage them, keep the language at home at least because in school maybe they, uh, you know, they're, they're learning English, which they should, that's great, but like not to lose their roots and to be proud of who they are.

Sonia:              23:49          You know, I hope that they get things duration in the songs too, you know, to find that space to say, Hey, you know, I, it's my favorite thing when after a show, you know, a girl comes and says my, my grandmother is from Mexico or you know, they feel empowered to share that. Uh, and so my, wow, that's great. And the mom's like, she's never said that before. She, you know, she knows, but she's never told that to anyone and they run up to me and say, I'm from Mexico too. My grandmother was born in Oacaxa or wherever. So, it makes me so happy just to see them being proud of who they are. Doesn't matter which background they are, but, but just so that they feel comfortable sharing something like that.

Shorner-Johnson:    24:34          Play is a rich site for voice and finding out who we are. In the Cambridge handbook of creativity. Russ and Fiorelli write that in children's play objects and persons can become new through pretending and imagination. It is a world where a dinner plate might become a steering wheel. Play like this opens doors to possibilities where an object, like a plate, may mean many things. This is the imaginative, symbolic space of leaning in to new perspectives. We find our creative voice as we reinterpret symbols. I read to you the translation of the ending of Sonia's song Alegria because I love her imagination of the interconnected beauty of joy and voice. allegria ends. My mom told me that life is beautiful, and to use my voice to make an impact in the world, and that's how I know that on this road my heart has finally found its destiny. Allegria joy

Speaker 7:          25:40          [music]

Speaker 4:          26:42          I love Instagram video that you posted at one point of the children in the recording Studio, recording the tracks for Allegria. And how they're moving and how and how that really opens up their personhood. I feel like it's beautiful.

Sonia:              26:55          They're beautiful children and it was such a blast to, to work with them. They are, uh, they are two, uh, two pairs, one brother and sisters and two sisters and they're all cousins. So they're family. They get along really well, you know, they, they, you know, so inspiring to work with.

Shorner-Johnson:    27:14          A recent research study found that when adult reads a storybook that stimulates children's imaginations, preschool children are more likely to creatively play with toys and engage with each other. Using eye contact, smiles and helping behaviors. Our shared journeys into stories and play are at the heart of drawing out our childlike humanness. Maybe our journeys into imaginative children's songs with our children build a capacity for play, smiles and connection.

Speaker 4:          27:52          Your music seems to balance the adventure of journey with the warm comfort of home and family. In some ways, family is kind of knowing who we are, whether your grandfather was a cowboy, um, or not. So in your work with children, what have you learned about music as comfort, home and love? And then I'll ask you about what have you learned about music as journey and adventure.

Sonia:              28:14          I think music you know, as a universal language, it doesn't matter which language it is in, you know, it is sung in, it brings a sense of comfort in a way. I try to bring a sense of um, yes, of comfort but also of curiosity, you know, and, and I find that, uh, children are especially interesting, interested in new sounds, right? Like, uh, I've gotten questions about what's that? What's that sound that you have in the song? Daisy May for example,

Speaker 9:          28:50          which is a musical saw, it kind of sounds like a ghost. Uh, but um, but children have asked me About that for example. So I always, or, or even Am polita, which is a song that it's more like a rhino from Peru. We have this like thunder drum and we have the water drum. And, you know, we have more things that are ancestral instruments. And, um, I'm, I'm really happy about that because I, you know, a lot of, a lot of the music that I hear from in children's world, a lot of it, it's great and a lot of it to me sounds exactly the same and I can't, you know, I'm like, they all have the same kind of instrumentation like in the whole album. And I try to make my albums as diverse as possible. Also in the instrumentation, in the background of the songs, you know, try to have something for everyone.

Sonia:              29:44          You know, there's a song for, um, you know, having, for example, if I had a hammer and El Martillo in the first album, uh, it's, you know, people from the 60s. I appreciate that so much, you know, and we do that. Grandparents are like, yes, you know, we love that. And, um, so they're, they're still a little bit, uh, in the songs for, I hope. There's a little bit for, for everyone to connect to, uh, either if it's in, you know, a rhythm that speaks about home, uh, and comforts them in that way or if it's like a sense of curiosity and it awakens that, um, Hmm. And an open sense of possibility too. It's hard to translate into music, but at least that's what I'm thinking about. That's what I want to do.

Speaker 4:          30:35          So you mentioned if I had a hammer and I know that you were at the Smithsonian Folkways festival to honor the late Pete Seeger and I was wondering about your relationship with Pete Seeger and his impact on your music making.

Sonia:              30:46          Uh, I did not grow up, uh, listening to Pete Seeger. That is something that's, you know, that I don't share it with, you know, people from my generation here or like Dan Zanes and Liz Mitchell and you know, who are like my folk heroes here. I came to know about Pete Seeger in the last year, is that I've been here, I would say the last like 12 years maybe. I've gotten more familiar about, you know, Pete and Woody and, and, but, but it is that, that really strikes me and I've been reading a lot about them and, you know, time to research and, and, and, you know, learn about their songwriting and their performance style too, is that they were very, very aware of the, of the immigrant community and they, and you know, the workers community and they and they gave enormous support to, you know, to people to feel welcome in this country.

Sonia:              31:41          And that's something that speaks to me at a very personal level. So that's why I opened my first album with this land is your land in Spanish. And then I decided to make a bilingual version of, um, of El Martillo, uh, if I had a hammer a song with Dan Zanes in the album. Um, so yeah, my experience is like finding those songs and those songwriters here in the U S uh, in the middle of a political climate that seems a little hostile, not, no not a little but very hostile, to immigrants such as myself. So, so having that music um, around and even if it's like from, you know, 50 years ago or whatever, it's, it's incredible. And so I'm working to, you know, to honor that and make, you know, make versions of those, uh, in a way that, you know, I can share them in Spanish or in a bilingual way. And that festival was such an honor, be a part of it because they're all Folkways artists. I'm not a Folkways artist. Uh, but, but I do, they know I admire them so much and I've done their songs and I, I'm behind them 100%. So it was really great to be a part of it.

Shorner-Johnson:    32:57          Oh, that's so wonderful. Pete Seeger is quoted as saying that when a crowd joins in on a chorus as though to raise a ceiling a few feet higher then they also know that there is hope for the world.

Shorner-Johnson:    33:14          Yeah. As we live, as we live and kind of these bruised and battered times of child detentions and mass shootings, it's easy for me to find a sense of despair. But I wanted to ask you about what to you offers the greatest sense of hope right now in your work as a musician and working with children?

Sonia:              33:32          Uh, you know, what gives me hope is that I think people are listening. You know, I, I feel such as yourself that are interested in the story. I have to, I want to say, I want to convey that actually sit down and listen to songs and say, Hey, I appreciate your message, or I appreciate you doing this. It's important, you know, to have you too, in a personal, you know, personal level as a musician. That gives me some fuel to keep going and keep thinking about ways to, um, to share, you know, to continue to share those messages that I feel are, are important. That's something that I consider all the time. You know, when, when, you know, in the last election, I, not to get super political, but I'll tell you about it, I, it was really hard for me. I kind of felt like I chose a country to build my life in that more than half of the country did not want me here.

Sonia:              34:27          That's all I could think about. And I could think, what am I doing? You know, am I doing any good trying to do this? And, and, and, and, you know, being who I am here and sharing my stories, anybody appreciating this. And I know it's a very selfish way to say, Oh, it's about me, but it's kind of how it struck me. And, and, and, you know, I'll be honest, I, I cried a lot, uh, just, you know, going over that thought. And, um, so that's always in the back of my head and I feel like, you know, I'm very lucky I'm here, I get to do what I want. Uh, I can speak both languages. I have people who love me around me, you know, my mentors support me, my [inaudible], you know, I look up to them and they have given, you know, all their support to me. And so that gives me hope too. Like I, you know, if they think I'm okay and they say Sonia, you know, keep going, you know, keep fighting the good fight, then then they say, okay, you know, I, I'm, I'm, I'm on my way and this is what I want to continue to do. So,

Shorner-Johnson:    35:34          yeah. For, for me, I feel like music has been my way to grieve and it's, it's also been my way to try and move into a more humanizing space. I feel like. Right, Yeah.

Sonia:              35:47          It gives, gives different space and brings hope in, in different ways.

Shorner-Johnson:    35:54          For more on Sonia's story of migration, I invite you to listen to a beautiful podcast interview with Sonia de Los Santos on Ellas podcast that will be linked into our website for this podcast. Our contexts of violence, hate and war rob children have the opportunity for play and leisure, something the United nations defended in article 31 of the rights of the child. Writing of the losses of Syrian children in the American journal of play. Daniel Felman writes that children often feel devalued and voiceless within brutal contexts. A child's play offers the revitalizing possibility of dignity, comprehension, and recovery, an integration of fantasy and reality that awakens human voice. As we seek to reclaim space for connection and care may we free children from the literal and metaphorical cages of violence, freeing space for play. In the spirit of Colibri Amarillo. May we find the green to look at the beauty of a sunrise and tell each hummingbird of the healing power of gratitude and joy.

Speaker 7:          37:28          [inaudible]

Speaker 5:          37:50          [inaudible]

Speaker 6:          37:51          Lisa Koops and Cynthia Taggart encourage music teachers to move into a sense of play in our work, most importantly, play can give teachers a sense of joy and satisfaction. I asked Sonia of any message she would have for music teachers.

Sonia:              38:08          Thanks for what you do. I mean, it's, uh, I'm not a teacher and I try to do my best, you know, making, um, songs and concerts that are didactic. Is that a word? No. didcatico in Espanol, um that are, that are right for children and that are, uh, that are presented in a way that is easy to, to learn a concept, uh, that also doesn't talk down to them. Um, that's something very important to me. So, um, thanks for what you do and thanks for sending all the messages, you know, asking for songs and lyrics and I try to answer everything. I, I, you know, I receive, uh, it makes me very happy to, to see that you're using some of our songs for like talent shows in schools. Yeah, it's really wonderful. I've, I've uh, gotten some videos from Chicago, from Spanish immersion schools that are using La Colibri Amarillo for example, and dancing son jarocho, that makes me so happy, you know. Uh, and this, this the da Lana lady and Allegria, I know a lot of you are, are using our songs, so we'll try to continue to create more music you can enjoy with your students and uh, keep doing the great work you do.

Shorner-Johnson:    39:27          Oh, Thank you so much. Special thanks to Sonia de Los Santos and her band for permission to use the recordings in this podcast. And thank you Sonia for caring for our children, for including those who may feel excluded because of language, status, or exceptionality and for your work and joining sounds of joy, voice, love, beauty. And hope with our children. References to research articles and literature on the power of playfulness can be found on our website. We offer a blessing to you. Listeners, inspired by the lines from Sonia songs,

Speaker 10:         40:14          [inaudible]

Shorner-Johnson:    40:14          may our adventurous spirits find the lush green Hills of Monterey. May our journeys, our migrations be wings of discovery, on the wind of hope, and warm breezes of home and family, and joy. May we find the light of our inner child that crows our hearts to the sunrise, our dreams to the wind, our love over rivers of playfulness. May we fly on the voice of song.

Shorner-Johnson:    40:52          for more on the music of Sonia de Los Santos. You can find or on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Thank you so much listeners for all the comments and feedback you have left - reviews, drive listenership on iTunes and we seek your help in leaving a review on iTunes or any other method of listening. After you leave a review, go to music so we can send you a laptop sticker and a classroom peacebuilding poster. And while there we also invite you to discover and share our groundbreaking masters program in music education and peacebuilding that is now accepting applications for classes beginning in may of 2020.

Shorner-Johnson:    41:40          This is the music and peacebuilding podcast hosted by Kevin Shorner-Johnson at Elizabethtown college. We host a master of music education with an emphasis in peacebuilding, thinking deeply. We reclaim space for connection and care. Join us at music peace-building dot com.

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