Stepping out of the airplane on a warm temperate evening in Kigali Rwanda...
I caught myself thinking about this new foreign country. I didn’t have to ponder long for as I left the terminal I had the privilege of meeting Aimable Nsabayesu.
With a big smile and an embrace Aimable immediately made me feel at home in Rwanda. Aimable is the Director of the Oakdale Music School and has been tirelessly working with the music school for over 10 years. Martin, Marie and I knew our time would be very busy. 10 or 11-hour workdays were not uncommon however I was ready for the challenge.
The next morning I awoke to find Martin and Marie had already left our accommodation and were at the embassy helping to arrange Aimable’s upcoming trip to Germany. I began to wonder if I would be able to keep up with their strong work ethic. So I decided to practice in readiness for what may lie ahead.
In the afternoon Aimable conducted a tour of the music school of which I had the privilege of meeting the teachers and students. I immediately fell in love with the school. Although I have attended many music schools in my lifetime, there was something special about this school. What struck me was the joy students had to learn music.
Although the school has worked hard to obtain the best facilities possible, they were very basic by western standards. It was great to see students and teachers making best use of what was possible. For this trip Music Road Rwanda had purchased 4 trumpets and a half size cello for the school and the students immediately began to make use of their new instruments.
Over the next few days I began my series of workshops based on lip vibrating aerophones or brass instruments for short.
The students were incredibly receptive and each of the lectures was well attended. A highlight for me was seeing the fascination students had when they heard and saw a trumpet for the first time. The trumpet unlike the piano requires some time in order to produce a sound.
This can be incredibly disheartening for many students, as the instrument requires a great deal of patience from the beginning. However I saw nothing but a huge amount of enthusiasm for the instrument as demonstrated in the video below.
It was not uncommon to see the trumpet students practicing for a large amount of time after the lesson was over. It was very encouraging as a teacher to see their passion and desire to learn.
As part of the work at Oakdale, the school donates time to a local orphanage. As I was in attendance, we brought the 4 trumpets along with other instruments for the school.
I then demonstrated to the children how to make a sound from the trumpet. After observing for a time the students then attempted to produce a note. There were some incredibly talented students with one particular student holding a note for over 20 seconds! This is even more amazing as Rwanda is located in the mountains and the air is a lot thinner. In many ways I struggled to keep up.
We also had the idea of attempting to build some brass instruments, which was fun. The idea was that like the South African Vuvuzela a brass instrument children could have fun with but at the same time learn the basics of the brass playing if resources were hard to find. Also it was fascinating to see some of the local Rwanda brass instruments of which I bought and took back with me to l
After many exhausting but rewarding days we were given a treat and Aimable took us on a tour to the border of Uganda. It was great to have to see the beauties of this amazing country.
After 7 days it was now coming to the close of my time in Rwanda. As part of my duties I performed a concert with Marie, Martin and some of the students of the music school. It was indeed a memorable night. The concert was a success and in particular I was incredibly proud of the students who performed at the concert. Martin and Marie performed amazingly and it was also a privilege for me to share the stage with this amazing couple. It must also be noted that their commitment to Music Road Rwanda was indeed amazing and as concert artists who are continually travelling around the world with many of the great musicians I had never met more patient and loving teachers.
So finally I had to step back on the plane and come back to Germany. As I stood on the tarmac I caught myself thinking that I had learned more than I had taught.We are looking for musicians willing to travel to Rwanda for periods of one to two weeks, to teach. We ask anyone who is interested in making such a valuable contribution to our project to contact us at info@music-road-rwand