Conquering children’s hearts with music

Photos: Regula Bearth © ZHdK

Student Portrait José Sifontes

José Sifontes’ vision is to teach people music to create a joy of life and emotions — working with children is central to his music and movement studies.


Christina Wallat: You want to change the world through music. What exactly does that mean?
José Sifontes: I just want to change those people’s world whom I teach music. This means that they learn to use music to cope better with life and to enjoy it through music.

What does working with children mean to you? And why is music particularly suitable in this respect?
Childhood is a perfect time for awakening the joy of music. Children learn quickly, playfully and unstressed. It’s fun to see how much music can open up the emotional side of children.

You come from Venezuela: How important are music and movement in your home country?
Music and movement are part of us Venezuelans. In Switzerland, I have experienced that people drink, eat and talk a lot at birthday parties, for example. In Venezuela, besides eating a lot, dancing is also part of things. Music and movement/dance are part of every party. It’s how we express our emotions.

What make you choose to study at ZHdK? Has your programme so far met your expectations?
I knew that I wanted to bring music closer to children. In Venezuela, the situation is difficult in this respect. That’s why I was looking for another place to achieve my goals. I was very lucky and met many good people who helped me to study in Switzerland. The programme has so far exceeded all my expectations. The Toni campus is a wonderful building to study in, the subjects are very interesting and challenging and the lecturers are simply great.

What are your plans after your graduate? Will you return to Venezuela?
Ever since I was young, my plan has been to teach music. In Venezuela, I learned everything I know about music and am grateful for this. One day, I would like to be able to give something back with a music project. At the moment, though, I will not return to Venezuela because my wife is expecting a a baby.

What inspires you?
Hard-working people. They make me ask myself, “How can you achieve so much? Can I do that too?”

Who is your greatest role model and how have they influenced you?
I have met many great people and learned from them. So it’s difficult to choose only one person as my greatest role model. But if I had to choose, I would say my parents have been most influential. They are hard-working, honest and kind, and have helped me to make good decisions in life.

What are the greatest challenges you have faced during the corona crisis?
The greatest challenge has been to stay productive. At home, I become “too relaxed.”

Who or what doesn’t suit you at all?
Negative people. I don’t like to be with people who keep complaining or are sad, who only talk about problems or doubt themselves all the time and think they can’t achieve their goals.


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