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US students spread musical message in Kenya

[ 2011-08-24 13:49]     字号 [] [] []  
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US students spread musical message in Kenya

A group of students and alumni from Berklee College of Music in Boston has returned to the United States after three weeks in Kenya. They were part of a cultural exchange program which aims to transform lives through music.

They taught music, performed, donated instruments to a local community center and learned about traditional Kenyan music.

Music is an integral part of life in Kenya.

"Growing up, I sang a lot in school. And we had competitions and choir and music every year." Sam Lutomia is on the staff at Berklee College of Music. He was born and raised in Kenya. "When I moved to the States, I got exposed to a higher level of music and I was like, 'Is there something I can do now that I'm in the States?'"

He co-founded Global Youth Groove; its goal is to expose Kenyan young people to Western music and encourage them to pursue music as a career.

"I started talking with students at Berklee College of Music and faculty members and they all responded positively." says Lutomia. "And we started collecting instruments. After that, we traveled to Kenya last month to start a community center.”

Thirteen Americans made the trip, including four high school students from the Boston area. Among them was 17-year-old Marina Miller.

"We started out in Nairobi," she says. "and we got a chance to meet with local musicians and listen to them play."

In Kakamega, in western Kenya, the Americans presented a gift, says project coordinator Aaron Colverson.

"We've gathered like 20 instruments. They include acoustic guitar, electric guitar, acoustic violin, flute, clarinet, saxophone, also a trumpet and a trombone. We had some recorders and also an entire drum kit, lap tops and recording software."

Dozens of young Kenyans, between the ages of 15 and 30, took the workshops offered by the group.

Berklee student David Chapman says, for some of the Kenyans, it was their first time seeing and touching such instruments. "Their music classes would just be them reading books about western instruments."

Chapman says the Berklee approach was hands-on.

"We would lecture for a while and teach, everything would be very interactive." Chapman says. "If anyone had any questions or wanted to play with instruments, we would always welcome that."

Project coordinator Aaron Colverson says that music can be enpowering.

"When you put music in front of kids, it seems that their minds open up." says project coordinator Aaron Colverson. "Music gives them a chance to express themselves through songs and writing the songs."

The group also held workshops in orphanages and performed at a national music festival.

Throughout the trip, Colverson says they met with local musicians and listened to them play. They also learned about traditional Kenyan instruments, dances and songs.


"They sing pretty much something like 'nice to meet you', and 'there are no worries'."

Although the trip is over, its impact continues, says Nairobi native Wambura Mitaru, who studies at Berklee.

"Up until today, kids are talking to one another," she says. "There is one young man, his name is Scott from Kenya, and he plays violin. He met with Aaron Colverson from Berklee. They really got to jam with each other and play the violin and Scott got to learn about different things. He now plays everywhere, when he can."

Trip leader Sam Lutomia says he is happy with the enthusiasm generated by the exchange program. He hopes the trip becomes an annual event and expand to neighboring countries.

clarinet: a woodwind instrument having a straight cylindrical tube with a flaring bell and a single-reed mouthpiece, played by means of finger holes and keys 单簧管

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(来源:VOA 编辑:崔旭燕)