MUSIC FOR EAST AFRICA
In 2011 I went to Tanzania for the very first time to assist a friend with her Fulbright project. I came upon a magnificent little music school, Makumira University, the only University in East Africa that awards an internationally recognized bachelor of music degree. Amazed at the level of enthusiasm these students displayed, I was shocked to find out they had only a few textbooks for the whole school. They didn't have enough instruments, certainly not enough for each person to have their own, and the idea of an individual OWNING one was simply out of the question! The teachers there were marvelous and did the absolute best with what they had. I couldn't stop thinking that the future of music in Tanzania was in these folks' hands, and they were empty hands. I, myself, had been so fortunate in my musical education, receiving scholarships and going to the best schools and having the best instruments.
I know from years of teaching that so many times a student will play for a couple of years and the instrument will go into the attic and the music stored under the bed, never to be touched again. Why not donate that trombone to someone who will make use of it as part of their everyday life? Thus, the Music For Tanzania Project was born.
In 2014, I met with some very dedicated students from Kenya and spent some time at the Conservatoire the following year. They also had no musical instruments of their own. I took them under our wing, expanded the scope of our organization and changed our name to Music For East Africa.
The purpose of this organization is to provide each music student with the necessary tools to enable them to teach music in their native country. By providing textbooks, musical instruments, and sheet music, they learn to read, write, and preserve their own cultural musical heritage, while simultaneously being exposed to other genres of music.
However, the challenge of education is great. Without our help, one note at a time, their fabulous musical culture will eventually be lost.
Elizabeth Tomorsky Knott
Music For East Africa