Startup debuts OPM music album as teaching tool

By Tom Noda

Seeking to help children learn life skills and concepts through songs, a local social enterprise group released a “techie” teaching tool using a collection of educational Original Pilipino Music (OPM).

The startup company, Ritmo Learning Lab, tagged the project as JoomaJam, a kid-tested, teacher-approved fun manual and OPM music album currently available through iBooks for iPad and iPhone apps, and soon for Mac desktops, mobile, and Android.

Photo shows Filipino rock artist Vince Dancel (third from left) and Rivermaya drummer Mark Escueta and pop singer Jolina Magdangal (seated, right)

Ritmo is one of the startup organizations being supported by Kickstart Ventures, an accelerator-incubator firm wholly-owned by Globe Telecom.

JoomaJam plays OPM songs in bilingual format which is accompanied by a lesson plan with recommended activities and resources.

The album contains lessons sung by local artists such as “Colors” by Barbie Almabis-Honasan and Julianne Tarroja, “Saving Money” by The Dawn, and “Making friends” by Itchy Worms, including nine songs that can be played in English and Filipino for a total of 18 tracks.

Minette Navarette, Kickstart Ventures president, described education in the Philippines as stratified and fragmented, typically formulaic, and dependent upon physical channels for creation and distribution.

“Teachers and parents need to collaborate in supporting children through education process, but the lack of engaging, appropriate materials is a constraint,” Navarette said.

Navarette added Kickstart’s investment in Ritmo provides parents and teachers with a contemporary learning content and channels for kids ages 3 to 7, and even referred to it as an investment in educating the next generation of Filipinos.

According to Ritmo co-founder and CEO Vince Dancel, who is also a rock music artist and a lawyer, the songs in JoomaJam are meant for everyone to play around.

“Being silly and a lot of laughter is the mark of a healthy childhood and music can help make that happen,” Dancel said. He said JoomaJam can serve as a soundtrack of a child’s growing-up years.

“JoomaJam’s music is sure to have a child singing, tapping and jumping along while learning about themselves and the world at large,” Dancel said. “We believe that education should be fun and this is crucial in developing lifelong learners, kids who’ll grow up to change the world.”

The other OPM artists that have lent their talents to Ritmo are Gary Valenciano, Jolina Magdangal, and alternative band Rivermaya. JoomaJam features music such as pop, rock, electronica, reggae, ska, among others.

Ritmo announced they plan to work on two more albums soon for preschoolers and for the rest of the K-12 students.

Besides Dancel, other founders of Ritmo are preschool teacher Carisse Escueta, media missionary Rory Morales-Gutierez, corporate lawyer Reggie Nolido, nation-builder Coco Cruz, and teacher Mikka Hipol.

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