By Grace Mugoya
A department that will equip students with skills to manufacture musical instruments including guitars will soon be introduced at the school of Arts and Music in Nyundo, Rubavu district, Western Province.
Operating under the Workforce Development Authority (WDA), this will be the latest initiative the school will be adding on to its vast list of courses being offered in a bid to boost the music industry.
The School of Arts and Music is one of the vocational schools started with the aim of producing human resource with hands on skills in line the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS).
“The introduction of this department will create more opportunities for job creation in that we shall give professional skills in the field of musical instruments production to youths anticipating to produce various musical instruments to be used in the music industry,” says Jacques Murigande, the school’s director of music department.
This school is the first ever government music school in the country. It is expected to play a big role in promoting the music industry through producing professionals who will not only be able to appreciate music but assemble relevant musical instruments as well.
Just like in any other profession, professional skills in the music industry greatly contribute to its development while boosting quality produced by musicians. This will help in staging favorable completion in the region and international market.
“What we want is to produce skills ready to get to the market; meaning that we are interested in people ready to take on music as a career not training those who are only interested in music for fun,” says Murigande.
The school is offering courses including music composition, music production, music recording and vocal techniques. Other related courses include instrument fundamentals, music business, and music technology. Crosscutting courses are also offered including computer literacy, health and safety at workplace. The courses take three years before students are awarded advanced certificates. On completion of the first and second year, trainees are awarded Certificate 1 and 2 respectively.
On completion of the course, graduates become professional singers, instrumentalists, producers, trainers, MCs and DJs and composers.
Another initiative that will mainly benefit musicians in the industry is the introduction of short courses expected to kick off. This initiative will give opportunities to already established and underground musicians to build theirs career in a more professional manner. The short courses will take trainees between three to six months.
Criteria to enroll
For anyone to benefit from this school, music talent must be identified in them. This is done through countrywide auditions in provincial pre-selections. The minimum education qualification for one to be considered is to have completed the 9 Year Basic Education but not limited to any education level.
It is through these auditions that judges determine who is best placed to join the school. This is one of the measures that in place to ensure transparency in the selection of students. In January this year, 30 students were selected to join the school after meeting the required qualification criteria. This is the second enrollment after the first enrollment that saw a total of 30 students enrolled in 2014. The next enrolment will see pre-selections conducted between November and December this year.
The school is operating on the skills competence Program. Study tours for students to learn from other music schools in the region and beyond is also a means expected to boost learning at the school.
In July this year, a group of at least ten students from the school will have a chance to join the 10th edition of the Pan African Music Festival (FESPAM) that is due to take place in Congo Brazzaville while another group will be visiting various music schools in Canada to learn from their counterparts. The school is operating with a staff of seven members.
Those who have joined the school believe that skills being acquired will help them in becoming better in their respective fields.
They say some of the reasons they decided to join the school is that they are sure music is a profession like any other that can transform lives.
Alice Nikeza, 25, says she is working hard to become a professional musician. “Not everyone can sing. First of all, you must be talented and that talent is shaped by skills so that one becomes a true professional; this is why I am determined to spend three years here,” says Nikeza.
Confidently, Nikeza says she is aware of the wrong public perception about becoming a musician; adding that there is need for mindset change so that the public understand that music a profession.
Nikeza from Rusizi district is also working as an MC at the school and has already started producing her music projects.
Another student, Pacific Mutsinzi is hopeful that after the training, he will be able to work not only with local but regional musicians too. “When people realize your potential, they are ready to work with you than when they realize your weaknesses; this is why I am sure it will be easy to work with fellow musicians out there,” he says. Mutsinzi is a first year student at the school. He dropped out of school after secondary education
The government has invested Rwf 500 million in the school and yet to invest more especially in building its capacity to handle more students. Among other things expected to be done include putting in place a new state of the art recording studio and performance space. These are some of the measures expected to boost competence among students. More classrooms will also be put in place as well as bringing on board more instructors.