Andrea Neuenschwander specialises in teaching music to children. She teaches piano, guitar, singing, music therapy and musical awareness for children at the Shine School of Music in Barcelona. Andrea is a music therapist, and graduated from the University of Barcelona. She studied music in Lima-Peru with a focus on Song Composition. Andrea has 8 years of experience working in music schools, foundations and centres and since 2017 she has been teaching early musical stimulation courses for babies and parents.
What was the first thing that got you interested in music?
When I was little, I would go to my grandmother’s house every weekend, with my father and brothers. Upon entering her house, we noticed the strangeness in her gestures, she did not recognize us. My grandmother had a disease called Alzheimer’s. This disease is characterized by memory loss, drastic mood swings, and orientation problems. My grandmother had a very small keyboard at home, she would drink mates and then she would sit in front of it. I, in the amazement of listening to her and seeing how her fingers moved and interpreted entire pieces, began to wonder what music did for her. Enabling her to play songs on the piano, by heart, without reading sheet music, having Alzheimer’s? That’s where my interest in music began.
Who inspires you to make music
In my case, I was inspired by a sequence of events that motivated me to treasure music, the excitement of seeing live concerts, discovering artists, their energy on stage and one thing in particular. Several years ago my sister won a guitar in a tombola (prize raffle), she brought it home and left it in her room for a year, without anyone allowed to touch it. I, in desperation, hating to see it there, so silent, saved money and eventually bought it for a modest sum. That is where my first direct contact with a musical instrument began.
How would you describe the music you normally make?
I was born and raised in a city called Arequipa, in the highlands of Peru, the radio constantly played cumbia and Andean music. Years later, stations with international music arrived. I started singing and playing folk music on the guitar and then unconsciously over the years, I leaned towards melodies and lyrics with characteristics of the folk music of my country. I would define the music I make today as Latin American folkloric.
What is your creative process?
I have a notebook where I write ideas, phrases or thoughts. Then when I get home, I try to delve into the concept through word brainstorming. This braingstorming becomes a bank of words that I try to put in order, writing sentences, then verses. I observe the structure of the verses, and try to find a certain rhythmic effect in them, through rhyme. Once the structure is ready, I imagine the melody that that letter asks of me. I take the guitar or the piano and I spend hours improvising and trying to find the music that best suits the message I want to give. Although sometimes the opposite happens to me, a melody comes to mind, I recognize it with my voice or the piano and I begin to think about the lyrics and the message I want to give it. On many occasions I get stuck and pause several songs to mature in silence, then pick them up again.
If you could choose to collaborate with any musician, who would it be?
I would choose La Lá, a Peruvian singer and songwriter, one of my favourites.
If you could choose to open any musician’s show, whose would it be?
That of Natalia Lafourcade, I think she is an artist with a wonderful musical journey, a sample of the constant search for her own sound, the beauty of her vocal technique and her compositions.
Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
Yes, normally the song that I was listening to before going into the shower, the melodies stick with me.
Of your concerts, which one have you enjoyed the most and why?
Several months ago, before the pandemic, I started playing in a band “El Ingrediente”, with a group of Cuban musicians. When one of them could not participate in events, I was invited to sing backup and play the “Güiro”. There was one concert in particular, in the Tres Chimneas, during the PobleSec bloc party that stood out for me, it was a giant stage and more than 200 people in the audience. I enjoyed it very much because it put me to the test on my stage presence, management and musical development.
Where would you like to do a concert?
In the main square of my city, Arequipa.
What famous musicians do you admire?
Billie Holiday, Caetano Veloso, Celeste Mendoza, Devendra Banhart, Chabuca Granda, Joao Gilberto, Norah Jones, Leonard Cohen, Natalia Lafourcade and more …
What has been the best advice you have been given?
How fast you go is irrelevant, forward is forward.
How do you think the internet has impacted the music industry?
I think the internet has changed the landscape and the perception of music in general. On the one hand, it has helped to promote and disseminate emerging musical projects, especially independent ones, increasing their listeners. Something that did not happen in such a shocking way years ago, since the music scene was controlled by large labels that in turn controlled the broadcast content of many stations and concerts and therefore a large part of the listeners. This has changed, in my perception in a positive way, today there is a range of possibilities to discover and listen to artists that were previously out of our reach. On the other hand, as an artist, I consider it a very powerful tool for the development of projects and their dissemination.
If you could change one thing in the industry, what would it be?
I believe that in the current crisis compounded by confinement, both artists and musical educators are showing a deeper awareness about the positive benefits that a discipline such as music has in different areas and above all in people. Currently it is very difficult to monetize and make money with live concerts, these are very difficult times for artists in general, but we constantly reinvent ourselves, we survive.
What would you be doing right now if we weren’t in a pandemic?
Projects, concerts, I would be traveling or visiting family and friends more often.