Research@Schulich: Francisco Luis Reyes

Originally from Puerto Rico, Francisco Luis Reyes is a Ph.D. candidate in Music Education, and a recent winner of an OAS Academic Scholarship.

Francisco Luis Reyes is a Ph.D. candidate in the Music Education area. He holds a B.Mus. in Jazz and Caribbean Music from the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico and an M.A. in Music Education from the Universidad de Granada in Spain. His research interests include community music, Caribbean music teacher education, democratic music education, and traditional music in formal music education settings.

In his fourth year in the program, he will be presenting some of his Ph.D. research at the 2018 Community Music Student Research Symposium at York University in the United Kingdom this November, as well as the Schulich School of Music's Doctoral Colloquium series. His writing can also be found in the Canadian Music Educator Journal (Vol. 59 No. 1) with his article "A Community Music Approach to Popular Music Teaching in Formal Music Education." 

What made you choose McGill for your studies?

There were several factors. Firstly, the research carried out by my supervisor Dr. Lisa Lorenzino around Caribbean and Latin American music education. Secondly, I found the prospect of studying in a renowned university with a vibrant research environment incredibly stimulating. Thirdly, because of the way the Schulich School of Music fosters music students through the organization of research conferences, the many visits by renowned lecturers and scholars, as well as having one of the best music libraries in the world.

How has being a McGill student influenced you and your research?

Coming to McGill has exposed me to different vantage points that have informed my research and my scholarly development. I have been exposed to great lectures and consequently been inspired to present my work at local and international conferences, as well as publish articles in scientific journals. During my coursework at McGill, I developed the necessary skills that will allow me to conduct research for the rest of my career as a scholar. Aside from honing the required technical skills researchers need, my dissertation about community music in Puerto Rico would probably had not been developed had I not come in contact with the theorists that have inspired me to undertake my research. They have allowed me to develop a new outlook on the sociology of music education, and consequently inspired me to conduct my research as well as other side projects.

Explain your research in three sentences or less:

Through the study of La Junta, Taller Tambuyé, and Decimanía I will analyse the pedagogical approach and sustainability efforts of community music initiatives that foster Puerto Rican traditional music. La Plena, Música Campesina, and Bomba - the country’s indigenous musics - have been marginalized from the formal music education framework of Puerto Rico, and this research intends to suggest how these musical genres can be included in the local music teacher education programs and in K-12 music education.

What led you to this particular topic?

After completing my master’s research, I became intrigued about the dearth of Puerto Rican music in music teacher education programs. After coming to McGill and being exposed to the work of philosophers such as Webber, Arendt, Foucault, Maxine Green, Césaire, Fannon, Bourdieu, and Quijano, I came to see the colonial structures that condition music education in Puerto Rico—and in Latin America in general. Consequently, I came to see why indigenous musical forms came to be excluded from the music education framework of the country. I decided to analyse the manner in which traditional music in Puerto Rico is imparted for the creation of a pre-service educator curriculum and to highlight the benefits such musics offer participants.

How does your research add to what was already known?

The field of community music today one of the most discussed and researched in the field of music education. However, no research has been conducted on community music initiatives in the Caribbean and Latin America. Consequently - aside from a few dissertations being carried out germane to community music - this is the first research that undertakes Caribbean and Latin American community music. This research brings nuance to a field that has largely discussed the community music initiatives of Europe, anglophone North America, and Australia. Additionally, my research contributes to the knowledge around sustainability of traditional musics and the role community music can have on supporting marginalized musical genres. My study also serves as a basis for other research that can be carried out in the Caribbean - a richly musical setting whose music education outside of formal institutions has seldom been studied.

Were there any findings that you found particularly surprising?

After the passing of Hurricane María over Puerto Rico a little over a year ago, I discovered that Puerto Rican traditional music can have a profound effect on the mental well being of people that are involved in community music settings. People attend these settings looking to escape the hardships of living in a colonial state in the midst of suffering from vertiginous austerity measures and a natural disaster. Also, I have learned how women today are redefining traditions that had excluded them for decades, and how community musics in Puerto Rico go beyond music-making and intend to better the lives of their communities as well as make alliances with initiatives that will improve the lives of the country in general. An important aspect of my research is looking at the sustainability efforts of these community music initiatives. My research illustrates how the particular initiatives I am studying are part of a current popular movement to bring Puerto Rican music into settings where it was previously ostracized.

Why is this research important, and who is going to benefit most from your research?

Beneficiaries from my research include the traditional music community of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean music education community, community music scholars, and the general music education as well as the Puerto Rican education field. This research has the potential to contribute to a new approach to education and music education; a more culturally responsive method. Education in Puerto Rico lacks responsiveness to both the current social and political climate of the country as well as the culture. These musics, which are embedded in the current events of the country, can help Puerto Rican students have a more holistic education during their primary socialization. Also, community music research has not been done in the Caribbean and I expect this study could serve as an example for other interested scholars in the region.

What are your next steps?

I expect to graduate by the Fall of 2019. I have already published four articles, and I expect to publish more articles directly related to my doctoral research before I graduate. I am glad to be presenting part of my research at the International Centre for Community Music in the United Kingdom this November, and at the Schulich School of Music Graduate Symposium. After concluding my research I intend to focus on projects related to the sociology of music education, specifically the reason for parents to enrol their students in conservatory music lessons, and expand knowledge on how the bureaucratic structures of higher learning music institutions condition the music teacher profession.

What advice would you give to new students in your program?

Take advantage of all the tools the university has to offer you.

Where is your favourite place to study?

The teaching assistant offices at the Schulich School of Music.

Where in Montreal can you be found on a day off? 

I enjoy taking a walk around Montreal and discovering new neighbourhoods around the city. I also like taking photos of these places, and winding down in a coffee house.

What is your earliest musical memory?

Attending Juan Luis Guerra’s concert when I was about three years old. I don’t remember much but I do remember walking into the arena.

If you hadn’t ended up in music, what would your alternate career path have been?

Probably civil engineering or I’d be an economist.

What was the last book you read?

Politics by Aristotle.

If you were offered a return plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go/why?

It depends, if it was to a new place I would pick Petra in Jordan. I am fascinated by pre-middle ages culture and civilizations. If it were a place I’ve already been, then I would pick Paris, Florence, or a beach in Puerto Rico. You can’t go wrong with any of those choices.

If you could invite any four notable figures from history (or alive today) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Well, I would love to invite numerous people to a dinner party, so narrowing it down to four people has been tough. At least this is how I feel at the moment:
Hannah Arendt – German philosopher
Berta Cáceres Flores - Honduran environmental activist and co founder of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras
Paulo Freire – Brazilian pedagogue and promoter of critical pedagogy
Eugenio María de Hostos y Bonilla – Puerto Rican polymath.

Back to top