HUGE THANKS to the following sponsors who provided significant financial support to the music program at TPC Secondary School, Arusha Chini and Dr. Omary Primary Schools!
The Daraja Ensemble is committed to the future of this music education program and hopes to work with the fine young musicians of lower Moshi, Tanzania in January of 2017!
If you would like to donate an instrument or supplies to the music program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Following an extremely exhausting day at the Mataruni Waterfall park, we were back again in the classroom. Counting from today, we only have four more days of music classes – WHERE DID THE TIME GO?! It seems just yesterday we were meeting the students for the first time. The class was in a bit of disarray after the conservation class with Samweli , so we had the students take twenty minutes to tidy up the classroom and take out the trash. This proved to be valuable reminder about the proper disposal of non-biodegradable items. The kids were extremely excited to help each other with the task and would not rest till every last bit of trash was picked up; quite the opposite reaction than back in the states, where many children would put up a fight to do any chore. All of us were glad that some of the teaching regarding the environment and sustainability was beginning to take hold. Both the beginning and advanced primary classes progressed as normal, with each making strides in their respective topics. On the whole, the amount of information each of the students is digesting is very promising.
The real highlight of the day occurred when we retuned in the afternoon to begin the secondary class. Right when we arrived, we saw all the students, on time, and divided into groups rehearsing “Don’t Stop Believin.” It was a truly inspiring sight to see. In addition, some of the more advanced students in the class were giving lessons to some of the students that were a little further behind. This type of self-direction and teamwork is exactly what is needed for the students to continue developing when we leave this program. The TPC secondary session was highly productive, and the band successfully played through Jingle Bells. Considering just over a week and half ago the band could not make a uniform sound, the results thus far are staggering. It is safe to say, that all of us in Daraja are looking forward to their performance come next Wednesday.
Field trip day to Materuni Waterfalls!
This morning, 5 teachers and 38 students loaded into three dala dalas to make the 90-minute trek to Materuni. The roads, mostly unpaved, were muddy and extremely difficult at times. The dala dala is merely a 12-passenger van, yet the drivers manage them as if they are in safari trucks!
Once we checked in with the forest guides at Materuni and divided the students into small groups, the five guides led the way to a trail that seemed to lead to the garden of eden! The forest was lush with edible fruits and vegetables, mango and avocado trees stood more than 50 feet tall above the passion fruit, bananas, and many varieties of root vegetables. All of which was interspersed with Arabica coffee, harvested by hand, by the Chagga people who live amongst the coffee.
The students were in just as much awe as the teachers to learn about each and every edible plant found along the way to the grand prize – the waterfall! The guides were thorough and patient in answering all of the students’ questions. And the students took copious notes.
Along the way, we saw only a couple animals, but the chameleon was a big hit. The students were excited to learn that this creature can change color and hide from their predators, but they were not thrilled when the guides offered for the students to hold them.
After a three- hour hike, we were met by Luis Karua with delicious lunch boxes prepared by his wife. Rice, beans, greens, with a bit of meat was all we needed to fill us up and have the students singing all the way home.
Even though this is my seventh time in Tanzania, I am still overwhelmed and humbled to see the hard work of planting and harvesting that the people of Tanzanian people participate in. Along our drive to Materuni, women and children lined the sides of the road, carrying more than 20lbs of fruit or vegetables on their heads, making their way to a central location where a truck would arrive at the end of the day to carry their items down to central Moshi for sale in the market the next day. The value of a single banana carries serious weight here.
I am sad to say that this year will be my last time in Tanzania for a bit, but I am thrilled that I will soon welcome my first child into the world. Of the lessons I hope to teach my son, I hope to teach him the value of work, the work that brings food to the table for us at home and for those in far away places, especially Tanzania.
Until next time,
This morning we were quite surprised to see so many monkeys up close. It was very entertaining to watch them climb up, down and all around the TPC club during our breakfast.
Another exciting day awaited!!!
Today was the day we planned to plant trees at the Arushachini and Dr. Omary primary schools. We started later than expected due to our tree expert Samweli experiencing some mechanical difficulties with his truck. As soon as he arrived, he grabbed the students attention with his infectious energy and engaging presentation on the four types of trees – Neem, Teak, Acacia, and Mpingo. These were the four trees we were going to plant during the second half of the class. Immediately after the presentation, the hoeing and shoveling started, and soon enough, we had about thirty trees planted in the backyard of the primary schools. The students were thrilled to have the experience of planting their own trees and we only hope that they continue to take good care of them. The day was more tiring than our usual teaching days, but nonetheless, it was a fun and knowledgeable experience for us all.
It has been another wonderful day of teaching here at TPC. All the children here are still very eager to learn. The primary school kids have an attention span that would be very rare to see in North America. Maybe this is because of the novelty of the subject we are bring to them. However, these kids can sit through an hour and a half of classes from beginning to end, without succumbing to the jitters of boredom or a major loss of attention.
There is one student who is particularly inspiring. Her name is Elizabeth. She is a form four student (which is the equivalent of a senior in high school) who lives forty minutes away from the school by car. We were told that to walk from her home to school would take around 2 hours. She joins us in the afternoons for a private lesson, followed by band class. I am teaching her Saxophone. (Mind you, the last time I played the sax was around eighth grade, so I had to do some brushing up prior to the start of this program.) Needless to say, this was Elizabeth’s first time having any kind of music instruction. (There is much this young Padawan can learn). On the first day, she could not make a sound on the Saxaphone, so we had start at square one, which meant having her try to make a sound solely on the mouthpiece. There was some difficulty. Once she could make some sound, it was very clear that she did not have any idea of how to read notation; whole notes, half notes, notes on the staff etc… You could tell initially that there was a lot of frustration on her end, even with the language barrier. The first few days proved to be a very steep learning curve for her - To say the least.
Today brought along a beautiful surprise. She came into her lesson with the ability to play through the exercises that were assigned on the previous day. Her sound was surprisingly beautiful as well. Clearly she has put in a great deal of time, because she played exercise #13 (Jingle Bells) with extremely good time and confidence. She also did a great job on playing it solo in front of the band! We are all very proud of her.
We still need to work on the idea of counting rests properly, but it will come in due time!
After a restful Sunday all of us were excited to return to the classrooms and delve into more music with our students. Today in both recorder classes our students passed playing tests (“It’s Raining” for the advanced, and “Merrily We Go Along” aka “Mary Had a Little Lamb” for the beginner students). In the afternoon we taught the secondary students their private lessons and moved into band where we are beginning to learn the song “Don’t Stop Believing” which we will be playing with other students in Moshi for our final concert. It was fun to get back with the students who continue to be as eager as they were when we began this journey together (pun intended). After long days we still find the energy to get together as an ensemble and work through new music together. Tonight’s choice was the first movement of Elliot Carter’s Woodwind Quintet, which is quite a fun challenge. We are also were happy to meet our new housemate, Wilfred who is from Mombasa, Kenya and is here training the security team at TPC. He is such a kind and gentle person, which we are glad to welcome here. Until tomorrow…
For the last day of classes in the week, we decided to break with routine and have a special music theory day with both levels of students. This class will allow us to delve deeper into the grammar of musical language and give students ample practice in solidifying musical notation away from their instrument. In the morning, Sam and Michele led the primary students in a series of fun exercises centered on rhythmic dictation and the beginnings of musical composition.