Having had a relatively relaxed start yesterday, and not too many pupils due to the fact that all the local schools had just ‘opened’, as the locals say, today was a stark contrast. Starting at 9 in the morning, both Max and I were teaching up until about 6, which proved more tiring than we were expecting. Due to the increased number of pupils today, we also ended up working individually in almost every lesson, so were both doing very different things throughout he day. Having arrived early, however, we both had the opportunity to fit in some more much needed recorder practise.
The first lesson that I took was with a 16 year old girl, who was preparing for her grade 6 piano. The pupils here have a determination to learn that is not found to the same extent in England, and was very refreshing to see. The next pupil was extremely different; it was her first ever singing lesson, and although very shy at the beginning, after singing a song she was familiar with, we found that in fact she had a strong jazz voice that was really lovely to listen to. Recording to follow! By this point, we had reached lunchtime; despite the offer of a repeat of yesterday’s lunch menu, we decided to explore the area around the academy, Kabulonga. Having walked for 20 minutes after being told that there was a restaurant ‘somewhere up Sable road’ (possibly one of the longest roads we have ever seen), we were just losing hope when at last we saw a sign for Miki’s Grill. Here, we experienced possibly the best burgers that we have ever had, ever. No exaggerations. And yes, that may not qualify as traditional Zambian cuisine, but it tasted amazing. When we got
back to the academy, there was a gap in the lesson schedule, so we took the opportunity to do some string ensemble playing with the string teacher, O’brian.
This was extremely fun, if slightly tricky for several reasons. Number 1, was the fact that neither Max nor I had touched a violin for several years (let alone the 3/4 size that Max was playing). Number 2, arranging at sight a piece intended for flute and piano, for 2 violins and cello, can cause some problems. Number 3, as often happens we had all somehow lost the ability to count to three, so frequently interrupted the music with fits of laughter. However, it was a great way to get to know the teacher, and try and gain back what little violin skills we could remember. Following this, I taught possibly my most challenging lesson of the day; a 6 year old boy called Luca, who was extremely shy, and took about 5 minutes walking around the room before he would either talk or touch the violin. However, the progress made in the lesson made it worthwhile.
This was followed by one last violin lesson, with a 15 year old girl preparing for her grade 3. Her standard of sight-reading was incredible; she sightread the first grade 3 piece immediately, and just needed advice on small matters of phrasing. Despite our day technically ending at 5, O’brian and I took the opportunity after this lesson to play some violin duets until long after dark. He is an extremely talented player, able to play violin, viola, cello, and double bass to a pretty high standard. Having mentioned that I loved the Bach Double concerto for two violins, he found the music in his collection, and we played it through. The most moving moment of the trip so far was playing the slow movement, with the sunset outside, and the girl from the previous lesson listening in at the door. A wonderful end to a long, but fulfilling day.