Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Much has happened to Tanzania's only music school, Makumira University, in the last few years since the local nonprofit Music For Tanzania has taken it under its wing.
In 2011, when Elizabeth Tomorsky Knott first visited as a guest lecturer, Makumira had no bookshelves. There was no need; they didn't have any books. She turned to use a chalkboard in her lecture. There was no chalk. There were two music theory books for all of the 29 students in her class to share. Five students shared one trombone.
After she came back to the United States, she realized she couldn't leave these talented students behind. Thus Music For Tanzania was born with one donated trombone and a burning desire to help.
Because of donations from Music For Tanzania, Makumira now has the only creditable music library in all of East Africa. They have a better ratio of students to instruments, sheet music and textbooks, and their graduates go on to pursue graduate degrees at prestigious music universities all over the world.
One talented graduate, Emmanuel Kaghondi, is presenting his original composition, “From the Top of Kilimanjaro,” during the Piccolo Spoleto Spotlight Chamber Series. Music For Tanzania commissioned this original piece to be performed during “A Journey of African Music: From Africa to the Americas” which is a musical journey of both African music and American music that has been influenced by Africa. Kilimanjaro is an ever present image to these students. The top of this majestic mountain is visible to them while they are rehearsing and studying.
Music For Tanzania's mission is to bring musical instruments, sheet music and music accessories to these gifted students piece by piece, student by student, one note at a time.
Music For Tanzania credits the overwhelming generosity of the Charleston community in being able to achieve its many successes. But the students still need much help.
Many talented musicians are unable to attend school or graduate due to lack of funds, which is exceptionally frustrating since there is a 100-percent employment rate for music teachers in Tanzania.
Opportunities for helping are many and varied. Executive Director Tomorsky Knott says, “Volunteers are heartily welcomed and donations are gratefully accepted.”
The Charleston community is invited to show their support for the music and musicians of Africa during Kaghondi's world premiere concert at 6 p.m. on May 30 at Mount Zion's AME Church on Glebe Street.
The tangible effects of helping and caring about these students can be seen in watching one special student achieve his dream during one special night, one note at a time.
For more information on Music For Tanzania, visit www.musicfortanzania.org.