Julio Argelis, born in Puerto Rico, developed a love for music at an early age. He started off as a singer, studied cello and classical guitar in college, and learned several instruments along the way.
Argelis moved to the western Mass. area more than two years ago and brought his passion for music with him, opening the Draglio Music Academia in Holyoke.
At Draglio, Argelis teaches music to kids and adults in both English and Spanish. After teaching in Puerto Rico for over a decade, he’s bringing culture and music to the community of Holyoke.
Producer Dave Fraser brings us his story.
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Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Music has been a part of Julio Argelis life since he was a child. Starting off as a singer, he learned to play several instruments, studying cello and classical guitar in college.
A native of Puerto Rico, he moved to the area more than two years ago and has opened up the Draglio Music Academia in Holyoke, where he teaches music to kids and adults in both English and Spanish.
Producer Dave Fraser brings us his story.
Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: It’s five o’clock on a Wednesday night in Holyoke as most people head home from work, Julio Argelis is just getting started teaching music at his newly formed Draglio Music Academy.
Julio Argelis, Draglio Music Academia: Dun dun dun dun dun dun.
This name I got it, like, in my mind a long time ago because “drag” means pushing somebody, and “lio” is the last three letters of my name, Julio.
So, it’s like I’m pushing people to doing something. So, and this something is music.
One, two, three, four. Da, da da. Shh!
Dave Fraser: Argelis taught music for more than a decade in Puerto Rico before moving here with his family after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Once here, he discovered that there were not many options for people in his community to learn music.
Julio Argelis: Nobody teaching me is singing in Spanish in here. You can find it, but in English.
And I say, “Well, I was in Puerto Rico 12 years giving classes and — and in a — in a music academy in there. So, I can start it here, maybe.”
Dave Fraser: The school is on the second floor above CML Inglesia. The space has several rooms for people to learn music. His students run the gamut from age 5 to 50, and beyond.
Peter Hernandez is learning to play the cello.
Peter Hernandez, Draglio Music Academia Student: When I was a kid, I learned how to play the guitar on my own. And years pass, and when I was about 50, 51 or 52 years old, I said to myself, “I want to learn a new instrument.”
And I said to myself, “This is the one.”
Dave Fraser: Marielys Negron is a pastor, along with her husband, at CML Inglesia. She finds the piano very spiritual and hopes to incorporate the music she is learning into their church services.
Marielys Negron, CML Inglesia: When the academy is open, my husband said, “You need to go. You need to go. You need to learn.”
That’s pushing me, you know? It’s positive.
“You need to use singing. You need to prepare yourself on all the steps.”
Dave Fraser: During the children’s classes, Argelis’ energy and love of music is infectious. Bouncing between rooms, teaching new concepts, and building up to more difficult variations of the same songs.
Dasha, Draglio Music Academia: We’re learning how to do the notes with the guitar by looking at it first. And then after, we’re just going to practice not looking at it.
Jarielys, Draglio Music Academia: I’m here taking music classes because it’s entertaining to play music and it’s something really fun in life.
Julio Argelis: Two.Three, four. Dat, dat, dat. Dat, dah, dat.
Dave Fraser: So far, Argelis is the only teacher at the school, giving lessons on a wide variety of instruments.
He said he was nervous to open his own business but says the love he has found connecting with people and introducing them to the music of his culture has been priceless.
Julio Argelis: Sometimes, you talk with kids and kids doesn’t know a lot of music. Old people know music from the seventies, from eighties, from nineties, but kids only know the music that is right now.
So, I try to guide the next generation to — to feel the music like we feel. I want every student that love music in general, not only one kind of music.