Our day began earlier than usual when we arrived at the school planning to set up the courtyard with desks and chairs for the audience. We were delighted to see that the students had already filled the space with seats and were sweeping the ground with sweet-smelling eucalyptus branches. By seeing this, as well as knowing the hours they had rehearsed for today, I was so touched by their teamwork to make their concert a great one.
The concert began with a brief prayer from Principal Kilo, the way all school events begin at Rise and Shine. Then as requested by the students, the quintet played Brian's arrangements of the national anthems of both Kenya and America while every student sang the words to both.
Classes performed in alphabetical order, beginning with Class A. They chose to perform a song that Christina taught them, "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" with accompaniment which they composed made up of stomps and claps. Throughout our workshop together, we explored the musical terms "melody" and "accompaniment" which we incorporated into our study of eighth notes and quarter notes. Their performance showed their knowledge of these musical ideas. Next Class B performed another American song, "BINGO", again with accompaniment. Class A returned to the stage to join them, this time with their recorders to perform their version of "Hot Cross Buns", but with the words "Ugali" (a staple of Kenyan diet made of cornmeal). One class played the piece on their instruments while the other class sang the words, then switched roles in a repeat of the piece.
Class C continued the show by singing their original song "Community" which they spent the last week writing. Then, Class D sang their creation, "Individual" which they rehearsed each day (see my post "Rise and Shine Week 2" to read the full lyrics to these new pieces of music). Both classes joined together in a similar performance of "Hot Cross Buns" with their instruments, this time using the word "Mandazi" (a Kenyan donut-type pastry).
As a quintet, we decided to get in one last chance to educated and did a brief quintet performance for the students. Following this, we thanked them and gave them the news that the recorders were theirs' to keep. Their cheers and screams echoed throughout all of Kawangware. We had more to give them--in graduation-like ceremony, we called each student up by name and they received a small cookie and diploma signed by Trade Winds and Principal Kilo. They deserved more for their hard work, but we were still happy to give them this small award of successful completion.
While watching the students, I was so proud to be a musician. I witnessed the power music had on these students, giving them the joy and confidence to perform for their peers original works which they had created. I also felt lucky to be a musician and that I can even consider pursuing music as a career. For many of the students at Rise and Shine, a two week workshop with Trade Winds is the only music education they will ever experience. I feel so fortunate to get to play music every single day.