By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4) – Music is in Nora Barpal’s blood. At 24-years-old, it’s something she’s been passionate about her entire life.

Nora Barpal

(credit: Nora Barpal)

“My whole family has been in education and activism,” she told CBS4’s Mekialaya White. As she’s studied classical arts she’s noticed a trend, however: a lack of inclusion and diversity for students working toward becoming professional musicians.

“Music programs are very expensive. A lot of training is necessary and it’s been a problem,” she said.

Barpal set out to change that. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, she saw a prime opportunity to help BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) students gain more access to resources virtually. She teamed up with fellow University of Colorado Boulder graduate Josh Wilson to start the Music Inclusion Coalition.

“We started to see how hard it is and just how much inequity exists in the world,” said Barpal. “There’s a huge difference in the students that are participating in high school, then collegiate programs. By moving this to a virtual setting where students can audition as well as show intent and have interaction with staff and faculty and recruiters, there can be a higher success rate.”

Nora Barpal

(credit: Nora Barpal)

Barpal says bills can add up quickly in the audition process, including travel fees, applications and transporting the instruments themselves. MIC is working to help fill this gap, and promote more multiculturalism in academia.

“We’re sending students into the world that don’t actually have a world view of music. I think it’s disheartening to see that and to see these students that are so young and excited and right feeling like they don’t matter and like their music doesn’t matter. It’s such a deep, human thing and when you tell someone that their art doesn’t matter, you’re telling them that their voice doesn’t matter. And it really instills that at a young age.”

Barpal says she’s experienced this herself.

“I never learned about any music really that was my culture. We learned pretty much entirely about European music, Bach and Beethoven. I didn’t get a lot of non-Western education. My grandfather is from Argentina, my family is from Mexico and I never learned about mariachi music. I don’t know what kind of music they listen to in Argentina. None of that was explored and I didn’t have any resources for that I felt like.”

She hopes to change this, one student at a time.

“Life imitates art. And if we’re silencing BIPOC voices in the arts, then we’re silencing them in society,” she added.

MIC is seeking students for the fall semester. To contact the coalition, click here.

Mekialaya White


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