A flourishing music academy in Lusaka:

a Zambian Success Story

 

Small beginnings

When Moses Kalommo was a boy, there were few opportunities for aspiring musicians in Lusaka, let alone the rest of Zambia. Desperate to take violin lessons , Moses would sleep in a bus shelter overnight so that he could catch the bus from Lusaka to Harare, Zimbabwe (a journey of 500 miles). It was as a result of being resolved to undertake such an arduous journey on a weekly basis that Moses was eventually able to train to become a music teacher. He was soon appointed as the Zambian representative for the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) and also took up a post at Lusaka International Community School in 2006. It was here that he was inundated with requests for private music lessons. Something needed to change.

 

Together with Paul Kelly a British physician with a passion for music, Moses founded the Ngoma Dolce Music Academy in Lusaka in 2010, starting out with just two teachers and some donated instruments. Since then, the Academy has gone from strength-to-strength. There are currently over 100 students, learning violin, cello, trombone, clarinet, guitar, drums, piano and voice. Alongside practical tuition, the Academy encourages all pupils to take theory lessons to develop their musical knowledge.

Learning Music at the Academy

 

The Academy also runs a series of other projects to support music learning and general music making for all ages in Lusaka.

 

Inspired By Music

This is a series of seminars for older and younger students and music aficionados who wish to develop their musical understanding in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere more like a club.

 

Music For Fun

Music for fun is a 30-minute lesson for groups of 3-5 year olds. Lessons encompass singing, piano and rhythm, with exploration of different instruments, each part of the lesson lasting not more than about 5 minutes to keep interest.  This format aims to serve as an introduction to music which will allow children to focus on an instrument they like when they're ready, and all in a very happy fun atmosphere to give them a positive feel for music.

 

Progressing to ABRSM exams

After around one year of Music for Fun the Academy assesses each child individually using the ABRSM Prep Test format. Further testing then takes place every 3 months. This allows the Academy to determine when the child is ready to move to formal instrumental and theory lessons. 

 
There is no pass or fail, but each child receives a certificate from the Academy with positive constructive comments on their achievements and how they might progress. 

Reaching out

 

With funding from Rose Charities the  Academy has recently established an outreach programme for the pupils of Kalamunga High School. Pupils come to the Academy once a week for lessons. This helps the children develop a musical life which would otherwise not be possible. 

 

It is the hope of  the Academy to expand such projects and run a more extensive programme of workshops as well as provide scholarships for underprivileged children to pursue music lessons.

Going Forward

 

There is a growing demand for music tuition in Zambia which desperately needs substantial financial support.

 

The take-up of instrumental and music theory lessons has been so great at the Academy that it recently outgrew its rented facilities, with some lessons having to be taken outdoors. With the support of The Muze Trust and other charitable foundations, purpose-built premises are now being constructed in the Kabulonga area of Lusaka. However, funding is still required to finish some of the teaching rooms.

 

The Academy is also limited in the tuition it can give, both due to a lack of instruments and due to a lack of expertise. Currently, the academy particularly needs donations to help buy working upright pianos.

 

A key priority at the Academy is to provide teacher training both to develop the teaching provision already offered and to ensure that higher-end music lessons can be provided.