The Art of Music was founded in 2009; with a mission to promote the performance and appreciation of art music in Kenya and use it’s transformative power to change lives, particularly of those living in underprivileged areas of the country. We believe art music, with its traditions of structure, discipline and excellence, can offer a great awakening and opportunity to a broad spectrum of Kenyan youth. Our programmes center on mentorship, first-class training and performance opportunities – we see music uniting communities and changing lives.
The foundation focuses on two programmes. First is the Ghetto Classics, the second is a musical and leadership training programme, The Kenya National Youth Orchestra, a music ensemble that brings together talented young musicians from all walks of life in the country. The Art of Music also manages the Safaricom Youth Orchestra. The foundation is also a key stakeholder in the art music scene in Kenya and is often involved in hosting, funding and organizing numerous musical events and trainings throughout the year.
The Ghetto Classics programme is a community programme that involves over 300 children in Korogocho – one of Kenya’s biggest slums, which is home to about 300,000 urban poor and hundreds more in satellite areas around Nairobi, Kiambu and Mombasa through the Link Up Programme.
We use music education to provide the youth with opportunities to better themselves and their community. We do this by instilling in them the life skills that come with the discipline of studying art music. Our programme also provides them with income generating opportunities.
Based in a local primary school and church, we run both a brass band and string ensemble that train weekly, meeting for 3 hours every Sunday afternoon. We also work within the primary school structure, giving 10 – 12 year olds, in an adjacent primary school, weekly music tuition. For all these children, it is the first time in their lives that they are coming across any music education. Over the 7 years that the programme has been running, not only have the children found an alternative and positive hobby that keeps them away from the numerous negative influences usually found in the slum, but we have also seen their school grades improve and their attitude towards life change. This past year, we had 14 students finish high school and more than 50% of them achieved the grades to take them into tertiary education – an amazing accomplishment if you consider their background.
THE NATIONAL YOUTH ORCHESTRA OF KENYA
The National Youth Orchestra of Kenya (KNYO) brings together musically gifted youth from around the country regardless of their socio-economic, ethnic or regional background and is the first truly national orchestra in Kenya. The orchestra encourages, nurtures and showcases their talent. By pursuing and encouraging excellence we believe we are setting a benchmark for the country and giving other youth with talent something to aspire to. Our ultimate aim is link the community based Ghetto Classics programmes with the National Youth Orchestra our vision being that we would have a network of community music programmes that all link up to a national ensemble of the highest standard.
Currently made up of over 170 members ranging from 14 – 23 years of age, the KNYO meets for a week, three times a year, during the school holidays and we also run monthly one-day trainings for those students who can make it. Working with the best instrumental trainers there are in the country and beyond, the students have 5 intensive days of training at a residential programme that not only builds them as musicians, but also trains them to be great Kenyans who will be mentors to their peers. We are extremely proud of the leadership role that many of our KNYO members have taken in the schools and communities.