Latino Musician Educates Through Entertainment

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Jose-Luis Orozco has been educating children through musical entertainment for the past 42 years. Now 65-years-old, Orozco is affecting yet another generation through music, NPR reported.
His system is simple: he encourages children to participate in his songs by repetition. Not only are the children singing along, but they’re widening their imaginations, dancing and laughing. The songs’ topics focus on everyday things like the ABCs and the months of the year.
“These are very important tools for children to help them with oral language development, literacy, body movement and coordination,” Orozco told NPR.
Orozco has been singing since he was a little boy. Growing up in Mexico City, he joined the Mexico City Boys Choir were he was given an opportunity to sing religious and folk songs while traveling the world.
“We were the little Mexican ambassadors,” Orozco said. “I got to see the world. We sang before five different presidents. And we sang a the palace of Monaco to Princess Grace Kelly.”
After singing with popular Mexican musicians of the time like Lola Beltran and Pedro Vargas, Orozco moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. A new era of education was brewing during the 1970s, and people were starting to understand the importance of a bilingual education. Orozco was hired as a music teacher at Berkeley.
“It’s been controversial, but now not as much,” he said. “I’m so happy to visit dual-language schools because there is an open heart. Kids appreciate this diversity, understanding of other cultures and respect.”
Upon receiving his degree from UC Berkeley, Orozco began publishing both his music and literature for children through a company he created. Noting the importance of healthy eating and exercise, Caramba Kids was formed.
Orozco performed outside of L.A., at an elementary school in Montello where he interacted with the students by asking them what the want to be when they grow up and telling stories about Mexican history.
Natalie Cortez, a 9-year-old watching the performance, said that Orozco was nothing short of amazing.
“I would be annoyed by the Spanish music my mom and dad would play every time there’s a celebration,” she said. “But this made me not annoyed. So I loved it.”
(Photo by The Sun Valley Center for the Arts via NPR)

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