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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and Staff
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 Mendez ‘Abelito’
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.
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.
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.
Jildania grew up in Cabarete and received a degree in accounting from Universidad Tegnologica De Santiago.
She has previously worked in customer service at Banco Popular, and at other organizations in areas such as HR, administration, and accounting.
With her experience in operations and knowledge of Cabarete, the Bachata Academy is fortunate to have her as a member of the team.
Martires de León
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 de Leon
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.
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.
Operational asistent / dance program
Originally from Russia and France, Alla is passionated about the bachata music and dance. She has broad experience in financial controlling, auditing, and project management.
At the Academy, she works on IT systems, manages social media, and helps with operational management.
In collaboration with dance teacher Yan Luis Query, Alla launched the dance program that includes free bachata classes for children from Cabarete and classes of stage dancing for the members of the Academy's musical bands.
Benjamin de Menil
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.
Some advanced students are enrolled in teacher training, which builds capacity for future education.
Miguel Ángel Encarnación
Juan Claus Previl
Raylin Cuevas Jimenez
Bass / Guitar
Wilietha Pierre Richard
Voice / Piano
Luzmery Fernandez Gonzalez
Jhon Marcos Robles
Daisy Novas Martínez
Antony Martínez Guzman
Angel Yadiel Hernandez Nolazco
Miguel Rivas Brito
Darlin Castillo Guzman