Oct 20, 2021

Hope whilst School Closure in Uganda continues

Atim practicing piano at home
Atim practicing piano at home

Greetings from Kampala Music School. With Schools continuing to be closed and some restrictions on movement still on, most students have been unable to continue with lessons. This has been disconcerting for some as the earliest we look like we will be open is in January next year, when the Ugandan population will have reached the vaccination thresholds as set by the government.

However, a select few on this programme have been able to carry on with lessons virtually. These talented students have been going places which has been great for them and their progress, and in some cases as we see below, they have been really encouraging.

Atim (16),a new student on the bursary programme, started lessons in September. She is currently working towards the ABRSM Performance Grade 4 and hopes to be ready by December 2021 and likewise her ABRSM Grade 3 theory exams by early next year. Four pieces are required for this unique exam. One piece is almost in the bag, and she will soon start on the second one.Theory lessons are also going well, with three topics so far covered. The target is to sit this exam in 2022.

Her Teacher, Mr. Kawere, is sure that they can achieve these set targets because she is highly self-motivated and eager to learn new material.

Akena (15) had initially set out to do the ABRSM Performance Grade 2 in December 2021 but has progressed so quickly, much to his teacher's surprise. He managed to learn all four pieces set out in just six lessons playing them to such a high degree, with superb musicality and excellent technique. As a result, his teacher Mr Kawere decided to push on to Grade 3, and he has already taken a massive step towards his first of four pieces. Just like Atim, he is also working towards the Grade 2 ABRSM theory examination.

Irene (20) Is a high Soprano pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Music at Makerere University. This term finds her working on improving sight-singing and intonation, which seem to be the main challenges. There has been significant improvement in this area. She is currently working on Grade 5 songs and various performance techniques. "She is a very hard working and determined person, and I believe we are on the right track", says her teacher, Mr. Francis D Mutesasira.

Unlike many other students on the bursary programme, Irene has been able to attend lessons online. "My voice lessons have been quite the experience. I also prepare for them like I would for an actual physical class. I even mind how I will look on the camera. I even had to inform my family members about my time of class, and they respected it. At the start, I was a little concerned, wondering if I'd be able to learn and understand the songs, keys, warm-ups, but amazingly, I've progressed just fine though I think I prefer physical classes".

Then there was the challenge of the internet sometimes. I had to mark my spot where I could have my lessons uninterrupted.

Overall, I've successfully had my lessons, and I've improved a lot in my singing. I'm happy that KMS was able to support online classes because I would not have learnt what I know now."

Amelia's guitar classes have been going on well. The brief let up, and physical opening up after the first lockdown allowed the teacher and student to meet to cover some areas they could not do over Zoom.

Amelia is a diligent and self-motivated student and has a very high attendance record. Her biggest struggle is thoroughly understanding music theory. The internet infrastructure, however, continues o be a challenge and makes learning difficult.

Other than that, all is well and previously in lockdown at times, and the network instability was our main challenge.

KMS is hoping that some of the students will be able to resume classes in a few weeks, but there is no clear indication of this given the diversity of the student population. Another report soon will follow on some of the other students on the programme

We thank you for the continued support of the talented student programme. We hope that in this time you can support the school in continuing to do its work also as we start to look towards the New Year when we expect that schools shall reopen and we can return to total productivity.

Amelia having a guitar lesson
Amelia having a guitar lesson
Akena having a piano lesson via Zoom
Akena having a piano lesson via Zoom
Irene having a Zoom lesson
Irene having a Zoom lesson
Sep 2, 2021

KMS Shuts down Again

Christine working at the front desk
Christine working at the front desk

To our Supporters.

Greetings to you from a very quiet Kampala Music School. Since January, we believed we were on course with things opening up. However, much to our disappointment, Uganda entered into a second wave of COVID-19 infections in late April and through May. As a result, the school’s opening had to be reversed quickly, despite adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures, under which KMS had resumed doing Orchestra and Other programmes.

At first, there were 12days of partial lockdown where offices were directed to work with 20% staff capacity. One to one lessons were able to continue in this phase. However, when the announcement was made that we would be going into a full lockdown from the 18th June, 2021, all music lessons fully went back online.

Schools were ordered to be shut down, and in-person learning was stopped. However, schools were allowed to continue for virtual learning and teaching. When the resumption of in-person learning is still unclear, as we await government guidance on this.

The disruption to KMS operations was massive, almost as significant as the first lockdown. Further, we found that the same students who were unable to take lessons before have not been able to do so again.

Students who had entered for performance grade exams, a new offering by the ABRSM, had to drop out once the total lockdown was imposed. The assumption that students would be able to do these exams from home was made by the ABRSM without thinking about the realities in Uganda, where few students have access to a piano in their homes. Some candidates would have to walk to Kampala Music School to record their exams, something that took some candidates who were able to do so, 1-2 hours either way. Many would miss these exams, and in some cases, at least postpone them till a time when this would be possible.

To add on to all this grief, a member of the KMS fraternity would lose his life to COVID-19. Mr Laboke was part of a core of teachers who were trained by one of our Founders, Mrs Carr. KMS would like to reach out to supporters to support his children and further their musical progress. Although slightly outside the scope of this report, we would like to appeal to our supporters in general to support the Laboke children, To enable them to fulfil their musical potential having lost their father, Mr. C K Laboke.

Atim is a 16 year old who has a passion for studying music up to the highest grade and is determined to do so as she would like to become a music producer and Composer. With her father passing away, her mother could not afford music lessons. Her father was her teacher, catering for all her music needs. She has previously done her ABRSM Grade 1 and 3 Practical and Grade 2 Theory exams.

She is has started having her lessons online and currently working on ABRSM Performance grade 4 and Grade 3 Theory.

Akena, is a15 years old boy aspiring to be in music production in future. He is a brother to Ruth and in his own words, “Music was brought into my life by my DAD who taught me everything I know and what excites me about music is when I am listening to it, I feel inner joy that I can’t explain.”

He is currently working towards his ABRSM Performance grade 2 and Grade 2 Theory.

The government of Uganda was able to give some relief to the staff and teachers at the beginning of the lockdown. This, however, was a one off grant, and the challenges continue.

Uganda is now back into partial lockdown mode, but if this extends further, more support will be needed for both teachers and admin staff, as the school cannot operate fully. In addition, with 2/3 of the school’s population unable to access virtual lessons, most and fall behind in their music education, especially those who virtual education by any means is not possible anyway.

We thank you for your continued support and look to you to keep supporting KMS to enable us to continue the vital and critical work of Developing Talent and Changing lives.

Laboke having first piano lesson
Laboke having first piano lesson
Jun 23, 2021

Aspiration and Hope, through yet another lockdown

Aspiration and Hope

The past few months have been uplifting for our students as school had opened up and in person learning was taking off. Teachers were reunited with their students and were getting going again. Many students were beginning to prepare for their ABRSM exams with great gusto.

It’s been a great term for the students and teachers. Mr. Mutesasira, the Head of the Voice department has this to say about some of his students. "Joy is always eager to learn new material and take risks. She is always Jolly and approachable, very open-minded personality. Because of her zeal to learn, we have tried to cover as much on line, however the lack of real time accompaniment for a singer, has greatly affected her interpretation of music."

“Immaculate has had the passion for what she does and works well. Immaculate is laid back but at the same time outgoing if u get to know her, u have to be on her case in order to know what’s going on. However, her diligence makes her an exciting person to work with. "

Sadly, just last week on the 18th of June 2021, The Government of Uganda ordered a lockdown so sadly we have returned to lockdown For many of our students, that means they will not be able to have lessons yet again, for a minimum of 42 days. Do watch our video  https://youtu.be/tt---ZI1Z3o to get to hear from some of our students directly, and do click on this link to donate to KMS to support our students.

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