It is unusual to see a child playing such a tricky musical instrument as a guitar at a young age. At least that was my impression when I saw 10-year-old Blaise David Gisa Uwijuru skillfully playing the guitar.
Gisa probably takes playing guitar from his father Alphonse Ngendabanga, who used to perform open mic in live acoustic at Discover Rwanda in Kigali in 2014.
Gisa has a dream to become a great musician, just like, or even better than, his father.
“I want to become an artiste in future, to be able to play my songs and perform at big stages like in Kenya and Uganda,” he says.
Gisa is the first born in a family of two. He is currently in Primary Five at Nyamata Bright School in Bugesera District.
In the beginning, Gisa would be curious to play guitar at any occasion he laid his hands on it, and was fortunate to know how to play it in a very short time after he was trained by his father.
“It took me only three months to know basic playing skills. Every evening, back from school, I would take away my father’s guitar and start to try some notes,” he recalls.
“My father later taught me different techniques of playing guitar until I learnt all the notes. Now I can play the notes of any song. It was so painful in the early stages but, as time went by, I comfortably played it without pain. For me, playing guitar is a hobby, it keeps me busy,” he adds.
Gisa’s father, Ngandabanga, a businessman, says he kept his guitar in his restaurant in Nyamata town so that his children can play it anytime they want.
He says he is privileged to have a son who can follow in his footsteps or even go further than he did in music.
“Gisa can be a good musician in the future. It was not easy for him to master the guitar in the beginning, but because he was so desperate to learn it, I found that he has a talent in playing the guitar. I hope he can have a longer music journey than mine. It’s my wish,” he said.
Gisa can play almost any song with a guitar but admits he has things to learn before he can think of doing his own song.
“I am still trying to master the guitar with all my fingers before I can think of doing my own song. Today, I can use only two fingers while playing the guitar but I want to improve further.”
Ngandabanga father is positive he can keep nurturing his son with skills to develop his music career and is also planning to take his son to Nyundo School of Music for professional incubation.
“I have been trying to support him in developing his talent since day one when I found out he is so interested in the musical instrument. As a professional teacher and musician, I can use my skills in developing his talent,” he says.
Ngendabanga is not concerned with public perception that being an artist does not easily pay off, after he found out his son had fallen in love with music.
“It is a matter of mindset. I will support my children to be the best of what they want to be. One can be a filmmaker, a chef or a musician. It is their choice. If they love it, then they can do it.”
Gisa had a message for his peers: “There are children who are even afraid when they see a guitar but it is a very good musical instrument which can help them grow their talent.”