Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Six Building Blocks of Musical Progression

During my maternity leave and the Grand Tour of the Grandparents, I am beginning to design my own music curriculum - if I had an infinite amount of time, teaching power and resources, what would my dream music curriculum look like? Ideally it would be intensive, holistic, creative, unrestricted by style, genre and tradition, and encouraging students to use their music to serve others in their community. This curriculum will have six strands of music learning:

Aural & practical musicianship
Music literacy
Instrument & ensemble skills
Composition & improvisation
Performance skills

This is hugely ambitious and it is unlikely that many schools will have the time to provide all the time required for their students to engage with each strand, but I wish to imagine what my ideal program would look like and cut down from there.

Whilst I was starting this I came across the 'Musical Routes' report about equality of access to music education recently published by the Royal Philharmonic Society (September 2015). It summarises really well the ghastly truth about music education opportunities being restricted to the elite, rich and lucky in the UK which makes my blood boil. The author, Sarah Derbyshire, recommends a unified concept of six strands of music learning, the Six Building Blocks of Progression.

1. Singing
2. Reading music
3. Access to instrumental tuition – formal and informal – with feedback on progress
4. Introduction of relevant digital technology (iPads leading children to taking up instruments, digital technology supporting distance learning etc.)
5. Attending live performance
6. Creative involvement – composition, improvisation, performance of their own work
I prefer to see digital technology as a means of enhancing learning in my six strands noted above rather than as a discreet building block.

Those of us who grew up following exams syllabi (ABRSM, etc) feel confident in instrument and performance skills, and if we were lucky enough to have musical ensembles at our schools or run by our county council musical service, we might have got proficient in singing and ensemble skills. Aural and practical musicianship would have been a by-product of this musical activities. So even those of us with access to music education received restricted opportunities for musical leaning and development.

Derbyshire shies away from any recommendation on pedagogy or curriculum, but we need to get some idea of what this would look like when implemented. Class music teachers have to start from scratch, there is no Hamilton Trust resources and schemes of work integrating all of these elements. I'll be blogging about how I get on... 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Home Assignment in Cape Town

Kirstein speaks at Bellville Uitsig NG Kerk, Cape Town
The Combrink trio are now safely in Cape Town as we look forward to Christmas and New Year with Kirstein's family. We will have a great two months or so of quality family time, meeting with supporters and MAFSA, and reflecting on the last four years of Kirstein's time with MAF Tanzania.

We would love to see you at the following services:

13th December - Bellville Uitsig NG Kerk, Cape Town for Johann's Dedication
10th January - Table View NG Kerk, Cape Town
17th January - Neos Gemeente, Centurion Pretoria

Click here to view Kirstein's presentation slideshow so that you won't miss out on our latest news if we are unable to see you. As a family we would like to thank all our supporters for their prayers and for partnering with us financially for these first four years and for 2015 in particular.

May God bless you all with a peaceful and joyful Christmas time and New Year!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

So this happened...

Introducing my latest project - I have a feeling this will be a long-term, full-time endeavour...

Johann Peter Combrink 22.7.15

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Inauguration of the Cultural Arts Centre


Randy Stubbs presenting the new Cultural Arts Centre
I was so pleased to be able to attend the inauguration of the Cultural Arts Centre at Makumira University last Friday. What an inspiring event and they have only just begun! Randy Stubbs has worked tirelessly against multiple substantial challenges to get this project off the ground, and the presentations reflected the impact this centre has and will have. It was great to see the finished extension of the university assembly hall complete with new lighting and sound systems, as well as the nearby site where the new arts centre building will be constructed. These facilities are among the best you will find in East Africa. 

The project has been funded by the European Union Development Fund, and has two partners; Alliance Franco-Tanzanienne and the Kilimanjaro Film Institute. AFT are helping out with training in project management and entrepreneurship, and KFI are assisting in documenting field research in traditional music. In attendance at the ceremony were various university and church leaders, a representative for the EU ambassador, and the Executive Secretary of BASATA (the National Arts Council I mentioned in my last post). The centre will primarily be an archive of the cultural heritage of Northern Tanzania, as well as a performing space for cultural performances for tourists.

The performers who will be undertaking regular cultural performances as well as outreach workshops are in the middle of a month's intensive training before they are reduced from 30 to a team of 15. The amazing versatility of the musician-dancers was a treat to watch - they performed snapshots of traditional dances from various people groups of Northern Tanzania, as well as more contemporary Tanzanian music. The interaction of traditional rural and contemporary urban styles was fascinating and inspiring for me as I try to imagine a music curriculum for students, in the same context, that allows them to be cultural ambassadors and global citizens. Looking forward to the future of culture in Arusha!



Swahili Jazz

Masaai rap!

New lighting system in the assembly hall

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Music Policy Landscape of Kenya and Tanzania

I have just discovered the new National Music Policy of Kenya that was published at the beginning of this year and it got me thinking about music at a policy level in Tanzania also. The policy is immensely broad and encompasses all aspects of the music industry and education in Kenya. It highlights the many gaps and challenges existing and calls for the beginnings of many new, substantial initiatives and institutions such as the National Music Board and Tribunal. 

Whilst the Kenyan Constitution mentions the protection and promotion of music, there is little other legislation relating to music or organisations supporting musicians such as trade unions or professional associations. Yet it is estimated that over 100,000 people are employed in some way in the music industry.

The two policy objectives I am particularly interested in are:
iii) To spearhead the preservation and development of indigenous music as well as other music genres;
iv) To support the process of music education and training at all levels;

The use of music to express national identity and for tourism features as one way to preserve Kenyan traditional music, and it is interesting how the strategies they wish to adopt are similar to what the Cultural Arts Centre is following with music from Northern Tanzania. 

Music Education features in other education policy documents but it is great that a distinct National Music Education policy has been called for. Also it will be fascinating to see what "an academy for the teaching and learning of music in its diverse cultures" looks like in a Kenyan context if it materialises! Again they will only need to look to the Makumira Music Department for ample inspiration...

They intend to fund this all through the new Music Industry Development Fund - good luck to them!

As far as I can find out, Tanzania has an Education Policy and a Cultural Policy but no specific Music policy. Music is no longer seen as distinct in policymaking - in 1974 a National Music Council was formed, and ten years later this became the National Arts Council (BASATA) to include dramatic arts. I couldn't get on to their website (does it still exist?!) but I found this YouTube video of the Executive Secretary saying nothing much.

Tanzania seems to be ahead of Kenya in having already established important institutions within the music sector. There was a musicians union (CHAMADUTA) that was started in the 80s, and this may have been continued by the Tanzania Musicians Network with an English site found here. A group of artists went to Dodoma to call for the recognition of artists and Intellectual Property Rights in the new Tanzanian Constitution (Katiba) which will be voted on this year. Tanzania already has a Cultural Fund (Mfuko wa Utamaduni) developed in 1998 alongside the Swedish government to promote and strengthen the cultural sector in Tanzania. Between 1999 and 2005 it provided grants for 302 cultural projects, but the website has not been updated since... The Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) was set up in 1999 and seems to be pretty active.

Interestingly, since the end of colonial rule in 1961, musical genres influenced by Tanzanian traditional music such as 'modernised ngoma' and 'Swahili jazz' has had more media coverage than its counterparts in Kenya. Due to the government policy of encouraging a national music, the main broadcaster for the 1960s through to the millenium, Radio Tanzania, either had a 100% Tanzanian or a 50% Tanzanian, 45% African music policy. Kenya has had much more influence from Western classical music with organisations such as the Nairobi Music Society and the Kenya Conservatoire.This may explain why Tanzania established institutions relating to musicians in the 70s and 80s but unfortunately it seems that momentum wasn't sustained.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

One month to go at the Pastoral Women's Council

Sponsored girls at Emanyata School, managed by PWC
Time has gone super fast since I wrote on my first month's experience at PWC. The pace hasn't really let up at all but I'm grateful for the experience in so many areas of programme management; establishing HR systems, recruiting, creating a fundraising strategy, writing proposals, donor reports, the Annual Narrative Report, organisational strategy and generally trying to get the PWC documents I inherited into a more workable system.

We moved the office at the end of February from town to a much quieter, more pleasant area near to the airport. We now have a mama who makes delicious lunches (beans and rice, pilau) and the caretaker Lucas makes the morning chai and is generally fabulous. He and his family live next door and they are also Masaai but from Monduli district which is closer to Arusha (PWC mostly works in Loliondo and Longido districts).

A highlight for me has been the recruitment of a new sponsorship officer. Lucia is from the village where Emanyata school is based, and was herself sponsored to go to MaaSae Girls secondary school in Monduli. This school was established by the father of some friends from church and has just celebrated 20 years. She later went on to complete her sixth form studies at another school in Arusha and then  an undergraduate degree in Community Development. She is passionate about girls receiving the same opportunities she did, and I'm confident the sponsorship programme will flourish under her direction. PWC is receiving more sponsorships from individual donors, and a challenge for the future will be more personalised communications between sponsor and student.  Lucia and I also enjoyed a visit to AfricAid who work with sponsored girls but in a different way: The Kisa Project Director was also a sponsored girl who went to school with Lucia - another wonderful result of girls sponsorship!

A definite lowlight these past few months was discovering that there was no editable copy of the constitution for the process of amendment to add an important new article. This involved typing all 18 pages out from scratch. I'm pretty familiar with the organisation now..

Now I'm at the final countdown to handing over to the new Programme Manager, after which I'm free to head home to the UK! It will be sad to say goodbye to my colleagues and to not be directly involved in such a great grassroots organisation, but looking forward to the next challenge!