“At some point, my brain was burned because I was trying to learn Farsi from an English [speaking] teacher, living in an Italian house, I was speaking Spanish and my roommate was from China. It was crazy, but you learn something from each one.”
As a professional percussionist and conductor, Camilo Jauregui’s craft has taken him all across the globe. During his travels, his understanding of music changed. No longer is it just a form of entertainment to him. Music is a tool for anyone to learn, to grow.
“This is a very interesting moment in the world. We have different points of view, very strong different ones,” Jauregui said. “For us, music is like a universal language. So, we take this universal language to do something. It doesn’t matter if you are from Boston or Pittsburgh or Columbia or Mexico, we can play all together making Latin-American Music or making Bach or making Mozart.”
Camilo Jauregui grew up in the capital of Columbia, Bogotá. He received his bachelor degree in percussion performance and a minor in conducting from Corpas University, based in Bogotá. A few years after his graduation, he founded the Metropolitan Symphonic Band, a community band based in the capital city. Then, in 2014, Jauregui received an opportunity from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. That was the beginning of a journey for him.
“A friend of mine from the cultural ministry of Columbia saw something on Facebook and [it said] we are looking for some guy who knows how to teach percussion, who knows how to conduct and has the experience to teach young and old people,” Jauregui said. “I said, ‘ok, I can try. Why not?’”
Jauregui and some members of the institute met for a Skype session, and seven months later he flew to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and became a percussion and conductor instructor in the turbulent Middle East.
“I didn’t know anything about [Cabul]. It was an interesting experience for me because teaching in a war zone is totally different than a normal school. This part of my life changed everything because I already did a business and music [course] back in Columbia. It’s interesting how you can implant, how you can teach that in Afghanistan, and even in America.”
In 2016, Jauregui gained another opportunity: an instructor for the Music Project in Sri Lanka. Jauregui and other instructors traveled once a week to multiple villages to give people their first opportunity to learn an instrument.
“We traveled three our four hours from the city one time a week. They try to learn everything they can because they are very poor [and] so far away. So we started early in the morning and finished late. We tried to do that everywhere.”
Though Jauregui taught, he realized he learned from the Sri Lankans as well.
“I really wanted to learn from them, because you come with the idea to teach something, to teach this, but the moment you arrive you are learning from them. How they play, how they say something, how they learn from you. So everyone’s different, but in one moment, everyone’s the same.”
Jauregui eventually moved yet again, this time to Pittsburgh. His family had vacationed to the steel city and “fell in love,” said Jauregui. Embracing his family’s decision, he moved to the city last year and is now a performer for the North Pittsburgh Symphonic Band, Camerata 33 and Gavas Beat, along with teaching part-time at Waynesburg University and David’s Music House.
“It’s like a movie,” Jauregui said about western Pennsylvania. “I love it. It looks like everything is clean. Full of farms, full of rain, full of cows… I like the people here. Everybody shows respect. I am really glad of that because everyone says ‘please,’ ‘hello,’ ‘good morning’ and good afternoon.’ Back in maybe New York or Chicago, they are big cities. No one cares about anything and everyone’s rushing because, obviously, it’s a big city.”
Jauregui’s travels have reinforced one fact: music is a powerful tool. Along with taking him all over the world, he now knows music is a language of sorts that can unify anyone. The more who learn this language, the more of an understanding can be met. At least, that’s what Jauregui hopes he can do wherever else he goes.
“If they are playing Beethoven back there [in Argentina] it sounds totally different than the Beethoven here, [different] than the Beethoven in Columbia,” Jauregui said. “So, I really want to learn from everyone, and everyone, as I’ve said before, has something to say, has something teach, something to learn.”