Ghetto Classics is the flagship programme of the Art of Music Foundation. It is acommunity programme that involves over 500 children in Korogocho - one of Kenya’sbiggest slums that is home to about 300,000 urban poor and over 1000 more children in 9 satellite areas around Nairobi, 1 in Kiambu and 4 in Mombasa, through the Orchestra for Schools Initiative.
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.
The main objectives of the programme are:
• To support St John primary school and Korogocho community as a whole with music knowledge and skills.
• To create oneness and harmony between students, school systems/administration and the community by using music as a merging tool for larger social transformation.
• To engage young people in sustainable projects and promote a fair and just society, where they are equitably engaged in social-economic development programmes.
• To bring people from all races, communities together to form a formidable foundation with the aim of making music a part of culture in the Korogocho community and the other under privillaged areas in which we operate.
• To expand the programme through the Link Up project teaching the Carnegie Hall Orchestra moves curriculum aross Kenya.
• To replicate the Ghetto Classics model across different underprivillaged communites across Kenya
• Some of the students who have actively participated in music programme managed to secure places in Safaricom Youth Orchestra, which also supports them with basic needs like food, shelter, school fees and clothes.
• Discovered hidden talents, of many students, who have also received recognition in the school for their achievements in music.
• Overall there has been an encouraging change in the behavior of the students with increased confidence and a positive outlook on life.
• Our students have made an impact in the classical music world both in Kenya, with many of our older students teaching music in the top private schools in Nairobi and across the world, for example Teddy Otieno and Stephen Kamau have attended the International Music Sessions summer camp in the USA for the last 2 years. Brian Kepher was selected to participate in the African University Leader Exchange Programme in North Carolina and also conducted the youth orchestra at the Verbier Festival while Celine and Joseph travelled to Australia as part of a music and cultural exchange.
• We have seen a majority of our students improve their academic grades - this year 15 completed their KCPE this year with above average grades. 10 students finished high school and we are positive they will get grades that will enable them to proceed on with tertiary education. 6 students are currently in University while also giving back as tutors to Ghetto Classics. 100 students attended the PURES programme at State House Nairobi and beyond this many of our students now hold leadership positions in their schools.
• More eight Ghetto Classics alums have completed various advanced educational programmes—from diplomas to certificates and undergraduate degrees—that have included arts management, journalism and music.
• There has been increased Tutor morale to continue with their music careers as they have seen the opportunity of being able to earn and income from their musical skills.
• It has also created a sense of responsibility and leadership by giving back to their own society hence creating brighter future.
• In the beginning the tutors taught at St. John's School during the week and on weekends, they were able to obtain sponsorship from the Kenya Conservatoire and the Art Of Music Foundation to take ABRSM exams.
•With the help of Ghetto Classic, tutors have managed to access and own their own personal instruments. They have gone on to create their own bands and perform at events in the community.
• Twenty (20) tutors teach across the various Art of Music programmes and in a variety of primary and secondary schools including some of the top private schools in Kenya.
Music is one of the activities that promotes community peace because youth spend their free time learning and teaching music, but there are other benefits to society as well:
• St John’s Centre began using music to advertise their school and recruit students, with the number of pupils rising from 700 to approximately 780. The mean score of the school has increased compared to the previous years (2014 mean score was 274, 2017 mean score was 287). St John’s school band came first during the Kenya music festivals in August 2015 and managed to bring back home Six Trophies. Despite its location the reputation and image of the school and community has improved greatly.
• The Art of Music Foundation currently employs 10 people from within the Korogocho community who help to keep Ghetto Classics running.
• Ghetto Classics has opened and attracted more stakeholders to support the programme both locally and international e.g. Australia Music Society, Carnegie Hall Link Up, The Concordia Foundation, The Opus 1 Foundation, Safaricom and many more.
• Through the Orchestra for Schools Initiative - Link Up programme Ghetto Classics has managed to expand its operation to other schools within our community and further afield. We have begun teaching the recorder to 600 new students, from 9 different primary schools in Nairobi, 1 in Kiambu and 4 in Mombasa, using the Carnegie Hall methodology and technical assistance. For the last 2 years we held Link Up concerts in both Nairobi and Mombasa in conjunction with the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya.
• As a result of the success of the Orchestra for Schools Initiative in 2018 Ghetto Classics began another orchestra at Mukuru Kwa Reuben at the Ruben Centre. Teaching happens over the weekends and during the school holidays.