Luis Ruelas: An Overview of Taller Comp

Taller Comp started as a project to help promote and expand the contemporary music scene in Mexico, especially in my hometown of León. Thought as a composition workshop for beginner students of any age, of any social background that would serve those interested in writing music and learning more on how to develop their skills.

Planning it was in and of itself a quite challenging task, but little did I know it would only be half the battle. I printed out a lot of posters, mailed them to Mexico to start promoting Taller Comp; created a website for the workshop; created a Facebook page; got the school were this workshop took place to start promoting it with their own sources. It all seemed to be going well. I thought the marketing side of things was being taken care of.

Nevertheless when I finally arrived to Leon everything I thought had gone well had gone completely the other way around. From the posters I had sent a month before to distribute all around Leon only 30% had actually been sent to music schools, cultural institutions or universities. I was stuck with 70% of those posters. This meant I had to move fast so enough people would know about this workshop before it started. This actually delayed the beginning of the workshop one whole week.

To promote Taller Comp I went to a lot of places in Leon and in the surrounding towns putting up posters. I went to music academies, cultural institutions both private and public, universities, libraries, and cafes, anyplace where people interested in such a workshop would go. Although putting up posters in such short time added a lot of pressure, in the end it resulted in a very positive thing, because I was able to introduce myself in person to important music schools in the area so they would know about my project and about myself as a musician.

The best most unexpected experience that I had while distributing posters was to meet the “Imagina” Orchestra. This is an El Sistema-based orchestra located in a poor neighborhood in the outskirts of Leon, which works with kids and teens in the area to improve their quality of life. It was a very moving experience for me to see these 80 or more kids who have nothing in the world but their instrument and music, and who showed so much passion and dedication towards music. I felt very very privileged to be studying in a prestigious school such as NEC and felt a strong commitment to help these kids some way. The director of the orchestra was so impressed with Taller Comp that he told me he wanted me to present this kind of workshop to the kids for at least the next 3 years, every summer that I go back to Mexico.

On the other hand there was interest in me presenting Taller Comp next year from other schools as well. One of them was “Praga” Music Academy. I was able to meet the director and she was very interested in me presenting this workshop next year in this school. She encouraged me to tailor the workshop to the different levels they have in the school and take into account as well the age difference between the students. Hopefully next year I will be able to present Taller Comp to the students in “Praga” next summer, and it will be adapted to their specific needs.

The overall learning I had from this pilot project is that Leon has a much wider music field than I originally accredited it for. In fact it is so vast that it was really hard for Taller Comp to try fitting all the specific needs from all the people interested in one session. Therefore in order for Taller Comp to be more successful in the future, I need to present the workshop tailored to the particular requirements from the schools that are interested, and teach Taller Comp directly in those schools. This not only saves me the money and time to do all the marketing, since the schools directly will take care of that, but also it allows me to focus on each particular need that a school might have that maybe another school might not. In addition to this the more locations Taller Comp can take place in, the more people that will learn and benefit from this project. Hopefully in the future this workshop will keep helping promote and develop the music field in Leon and its surrounding areas.