LEARN LOCAL

 ENGAGE GLOBAL

Our School

Academia de Bachata is the only music program in the world to focus on teaching...

 

Our Values

We emphasize collaborative learning through band practice, performances, and group exercises...

Our Teachers

Academia de Bachata has some of the best talent in the local and international music scenes...

Our school

Academia de Bachata is the only music program in the world to focus on teaching bachata and merengue. A music education focused on local traditions motivates children, empowers communities, and preserves diversity. Based in Cabarete, the Academia is a collaborative venture between iASO Records and The DREAM Project, an educational NGO that provides holistic education to more than 15,000 at-risk youth in the Dominican Republic.

The Academia opened its doors in 2013 and has more than 300 K-12 children enrolled in free, intensive daily instrument and voice classes. The Academia's faculty of celebrated musicians endeavors to transmit bachata’s traditions to future generations, while encouraging children to develop their own musical expression. Our touring student ensemble performs dozens of concerts and workshops per year for thousands of US children and adults.

 
 

Our Values

COLLABORATIVE LEARNING

We emphasize collaborative learning through band practice, performances, and group exercises.

 

QUALITY AND INTENSITY OF MUSIC EDUCATION

The intensity and quality of musical immersion are critical to a student's progress. We offer frequent classes with accomplished musician teachers who develop enthusiasm among students.

 

TEACHING LOCAL

Our Suzuki for folk music approach engages children by teaching through local traditions. Children are enthusiastic and better prepared to learn a musical tradition that is popular in their community.

 

CAPACITY BUILDING

We are preparing the next generation of teachers. Our advanced students train as teaching assistants. TAs play an important role in expanding access to our curriculum.

 

CULTURAL PRESERVATION

We seek to empower communities to preserve and develop their musical culture. A community that takes pride in its culture is strong and has much to offer to humanity.

INCLUSION OF ALL PEOPLE

Academia de Bachata welcomes children of all backgrounds and genders. We seek to empower underrepresented voices through music.

Our Teachers

Academia de Bachata is fortunate to count some of the country's leading musicians on our faculty. Our teachers combine formal training with deep empirical knowledge of local musical cultures. Through their mentorship we aim to help student develop innovating careers in traditional and popular music.

abel-girl.jpg
Abel Mendez ‘Abelito’ 

Percussion

Abelito is Dominican Republic’s leading bachata percussionist. In a career spanning from the 1970s until today, Abel played a leading role in developing the rythmic structures that define modern bachata. Abelito was a founding member of  Monchy y Alexandra, a Grammy nominated group. He has recorded with almost every well-known bachata artist including Romeo Santos and Antony Santos.

eduardo.jpg
Eduardo Abi Harb

Deputy Director

Eduardo studied and taught for more than 30 years in Venezuela's El Sistema, where he was charged with establishing new nucleus schools under the Sistema franchise. As a violinist and orchestral leader, he has toured the world. More recently, he was founder and musical director of  Fiesta Clasica, a music school in Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial. Now he leads our choral program, and supervises operations.

wilsonsax.jpg
Wilson Salomon

Saxophone

Wilson has more than 30 years experience as a leading saxophonist of the Dominican North Coast, heartland of Merengue Típico. He has worked over the years as a vocalist, saxophonist, band director, and a teacher. He studied music theory and saxophone at Escuela de Música Luis Lopez. The saxophone is a principle melodic instrument of both orchestral and traditional Merengue. Wilson shares with his students a profound knowledge of this Dominican tradition.

DG.jpg
Demmanuel González

Piano / Voice / Music theory 

Demmanuel is American-Dominican and hails from Clifton, NJ. He graduated from Washington & Lee University in Virginia where he was a music major and baritone vocalist. He is an accomplished musician, composer, and rising star in music education and psychology. In college he was active in Wind Ensemble, Glee Club and University Singers, and took on many leadership roles in choral conducting.
Currently Demmanuel is working on establishing a stable singing program which involves private voice lessons as well as a Bachata Choir and a Children's Choir. 

yakelim_edited.jpg
Yakelim Yazbek

Logistics Coordinator

Before becoming a coordinator of the El Sistema music program in 2013, Yakelim's background was in small business management. She left Venezuela's Sistema in 2017, and has played a key role since joining us in 2018 as logistics coordinator. From enrollment, to attendance, to scheduling; from parent conferences to concert planning; Yakelim's attention to logistics and intuition for human relations helps to insure the success of the Academia's endeavors big and small. 

martires teaching.jpg
Martires de León

Musical Supervisor

As bachata’s top session guitarist and the arranger for megastar Romeo Santos, guitar maestro Martires de León has toured the world and performed in iconic venues such as Madison Square Garden. Widely traveled and formally trained, his mission is to broaden his students’ horizons, fostering in them the skills and discipline necessary for a professional musician.

kelvin.jpg
Kelvin de Leon

Guitar

Kelvin is one of the Dominican Republic's finest guitarists, with a deep expertise in traditional Latin American music. He has arranged and served as lead guitarist for Frank Reyes, Yoskar Sarante, Andy Andy, and Monchy y Alexandra among others. Since 2018, he has studied music theory and pedagogy at Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. Kelvin is the son of Dominican maestro Martires de Leon.

JRC.jpg
Juan Rafael Castellanos

Percussion

A multi-talented percussionist, composer, lecturer, and educator, Juan Rafael joined the Bachata Academy after more than 25 years of work experience in countries such as Ireland, Spain, United States, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Juan Rafael holds a degree in music Education and Performance from the Instituto Superior de Arte (Havana, Cuba) and First-Class teaching certificate as a professor at the same institute. He has performed at prestigious Music Festivals in the United States and abroad. 
In the U.S he has appeared with world class artists at Carnegie Hall (NY), Kimmel Center (Philadelphia), and more.

kedley.jpg
Kedley Lamande

Kompa

Kedley heads our Kompa music program. He plays piano and is experienced as a band and choral leader. Kompa is the national music of Haiti, which shares the island of Hispanola with the Dominican Republic. As many of our students are of Haitian origin, we have launched an initiative to teach Kompa to all of our students, and so to encourage their exchange of musical cultures. Kedley studied music at Ecole Notre Dame de la Victoire de Balan and Lycée National Jacques Roumain de Balan.

27058009064_4aae6b067d_o_edited.jpg
Benjamin de Menil

Founder/Director

Benjamin de Menil is the founder of Academia de Bachata and iASO Records. For two decades, he has produced recordings, performances, and educational programs that foster Dominican musical traditions. Benjamin’s productions, which feature pioneers of bachata, have been critically acclaimed and have topped music charts. His traditional bachata music and dance videos are viewed by tens of millions. In 2013, inspired by the success of the Dominican Republic’s baseball academies, Benjamin established Academia de Bachata to incubate the next generation of professional bachateros.