Fernando Tarango wants to make music education accessible to local students and beyond, through pilot webisodes of his children's music education show, “The Perpetual Music Machine.”
Tarango, a longtime artist and Fort Wayne native, is able to pursue such a project because he is the local recipient of a $2,000 individual artist program grant from the Indiana Arts Commission. The program provides support to artists around the state in all disciplines for career development projects. Applicants may request a maximum of $2,000. Tarango was the only artist from Fort Wayne selected. He finds this fact exciting yet surprising at the same time, since there are many talented artists here. More than anything Tarango said the grant helps legitimize his work.
Accessibility is a key theme in his creative process. The webisode format is no coincidence, because it allows for him to meet students where they are, literally and figuratively. Anyone with an Internet connection can access the programs, even those who are home-schooled, he said. His target audience is students in grades 3-5.
The bite-sized length of the webisodes is by design, too. Tarango said the programs are 10 minutes in length, so that it’s “noncommittal” and episodes can be strung together and viewed in any order. There will be some sort of a “narrative arc,” yet children don’t need to watch the programs in any particular order. His intention is that the episodes can prompt in-classroom conversation and further engagement and “serve as a calling card for educational programming.” Beyond that, he said, “there really aren’t any rules. I just want to keep kids on their toes.”
Speaking of engagement, Tarango knows how maximize every teaching opportunity that teachers and students will enjoy, from personal experience in and outside the classroom. He’s a former educator at the Grammy-winning Pacific Boychoir Academy in California. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Michigan School of Music.
His outreach experience lends credibility as well. In his past work with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and other organizations, Tarango has found that an interactive approach, as opposed to traditional concerts, is the most effective. In his words, “Kids are really interested in instruments and how to create sounds,” he said.
To that end, Tarango plans to incorporate elements of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) in the 10-minute episodes. He said although it’s gotten a lot of attention in recent years, STEAM is nothing new when it comes to music education. “Music involves STEAM,” he said. “Every instrument is a technological advancement.”
It is his goal that these educational webisodes will help educators meet curriculum goals while exposing students to artists in their own community. In his words, “I want to show the diverse nature of Fort Wayne music,” he said. That means combining genres like classical music with hip-hop — and everything in between.
Tarango said he plans to hire local musicians and vendors to collaborate on the webisodes and put Fort Wayne on the map artistically.
“A big part of it for me is really showing what we can do in Fort Wayne,” he said.
The funding will allow for the production of three initial pilot episodes, but Tarango hopes to keep the momentum going by securing additional funding. He plans to record his first webisode in January, so that he has an example to show prospective funders. Right now, he’s looking to make connections with music educators and business people and corporations. Those interested in getting involved are welcome to contact him via his website, www.fernandotarango.com.