To close off the year we have a special post from one of our Ghetto Classics Music Tutors based at Rueben Centre.
My name is Lisa Ndegwa, I am sixteen years old and a student at St Austin’s Academy. I got to learn about the art of music foundation from my aunt Judy Ogana, she told me about the contribution Ghetto Classics is making to our society. I immediately fell in love with the idea that music is being used as a platform to not only bring up music education, but to also enable and provide the youth with opportunities to better themselves.
I started learning to play musical instruments when I was about 5 years old and later on the theory of music. By playing and performing on stage at school, my music skills got better and better and I found that I was gaining self-confidence and being acknowledged as a leader. Soon I was appointed as a school prefect and was performing confidently at every event in school. I love music because it expresses what cannot always be easily expressed; whether happiness, sadness, love or loss. I have recently completed ABRSM Grade 7 Piano stage ready to commence my Grade 8. When I got to learn about Ghetto Classics I thought I could use my talent and formal grade training to spread the love of music to other passionate kids.
With the opening of this amazing opportunity, I started volunteering at the Mukuru Kwa Ruben tutor center. On my first day at Mukuru Kwa Ruben, I was welcomed warmly by the other tutors and the students too. I was pleasantly surprised to see a big, beautiful, inspiring community that encourages students to be their best selves. I loved the order with which the students followed to prepare for their music instrument classes. Each one quietly picked an instrument and headed off to class where they started practicing even before their tutors got into class. On the first day, I got to teach some amazing students on the piano and recorder. I was happy to teach exactly what I had learnt years back in my Recorder class. The recorder class was quite large, with boys and girls varying in age between 7- 14 years and because I knew I wasn’t a familiar face to the kids, we got to play ice-breakers so that I could get to know more about my students and they could get to know a little about me.
They were all very energetic and enthusiastic to learn which really encouraged and reassured me. With the help of my Mentor Tutor Muhindi, we got to teach the basics of playing
recorder and two songs by the end of the class. As the session went on, some students left to learn a different instrument, leaving Tutor Muhindi and I with 8 continuing students. The four boys and girls that remained learnt three notes and five types of beats and were able to incorporate it in various songs, including the national anthem, in astonishing speeds! These eight students, I must add have grown such great lengths in their music performance.
After tea break we begun piano classes at around 10:30am until 12:00 noon. In the beginning there were two beautiful girls who I had the pleasure of teaching and watching grow in piano performance skills. They attend the same class at their school, therefore having similar challenges and goals. Although they had never quite played piano before, their passion was evident and I believe it was what drove them to learn a song in thirty minutes that I barely learnt in two days myself!
In the next piano class, I had more students, 7 girls and 1 boy. We did an ice breaker game that helped me learn all their names before we started the class. Some of them once again had to leave for lessons on other instruments that they were learning, leaving me with three students. These three got to learn the basics of finger placing on the keyboard and the scale of C.
More students have shown an interest in learning piano, we are however finding it challenging to find a schedule that accommodates learning of more than one instrument. I am only two years older than the oldest student in my class and no matter how many times I have tried to stop them, my students insist on calling me ‘teacher Lisa.’ Throughout the classes I have had two continuous students. Together we have been able to grow musically and got to know each other better. Since this is my first try at teaching music, my students and I have been able to learn from each other and they have even helped improve my Kiswahili and some cool sheng.
I am a candidate of year 11 this year and managing both school and volunteer work has been challenging because I often have so much homework and studying to do. It’s been two months now and so far I’ve managed to go to Mukuru Kwa Ruben center at least three times a month during the Saturday classes. I am still really enjoying the overall experience. I have noticed how all the children are so excited and driven to learn music, this has inspired and encouraged me to become a better musician and person. I’m grateful for this amazing opportunity that has exposed me to a different social community setting, and taught me more about life then my school ever has. I love music, and I know it has, and is continuing to shape me into the confident person I am meant to be; I know, and believe it is going to do the same to all the passionate students in the Art of music foundation.