On a Mission to Preserve the Music of Ecuador



Lebanon, Ill. — Dr. Phil Wilhelm, McKendree University assistant professor of music education, is returning to Ecuador on an ongoing mission to preserve the indigenous music of the Quichua culture.

You can follow his journey, which begins May 5, from his blog on the university’s Web site, mckendree.edu.

Wilhelm first visited Ecuador in 2004 on a mission trip organized by the O’Fallon United Church of Christ, as part of the UCC’s People to People project and has returned every year. As a volunteer, he worked with the Quichua people to help build a sustainable model farm. As a musician and educator, he became fascinated with their folk music and passionate about saving it for future generations.

“This trip is a continuation of my research, where we are going to document as much indigenous music as we can,” Wilhelm said. “We will then archive it at McKendree, making it available on the Internet so that it can one day be incorporated back into the school curriculum. Right now the music is dying quickly, so it needs to be preserved.” 

Wilhelm and four McKendree students will spend two weeks living and working in the schools of Tena, in the Amazon rain forest. Assisting Wilhelm with his research are music education majors Zach Rhines of Swansea; Genni Strathman of Florissant, Mo.; Justin Titsworth of Breese; and Emily Thoman of Edwardsville, who is returning to Ecuador for a second time. The group will also spend several days working at the National Conservatory of music in Quito, the capital city.