On October 6, listeners tuning in to 98.1FM were given a nice surprise as they were treated to music on the air while they patiently waited in their cars in the morning traffic queues. ‘Good morning Sierra Leone’ received several compliments on the high quality of Groovy Colours as they played their jazzy and Sierra Leone numbers. They asked questions of Joecelia Gbondo and Leslie Cummings-Wray representing the academy after they were charmed by the brassy sounds of the German musicians and Groovy Colours, the academy’s jazz band. The Germans are friends of Stephan Flore, Senior Experten Service volunteer working with Ballanta to improve the quality of brass playing in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone saw yet another disaster on August 14, 2017. Our reaction -How can Ballanta help? We don’t have financial resources but we certainly have MUSIC! In response to our query as to where we could make music for the children of this August disaster, Dr. Lang Ma at UNICEF pointed us in the direction of Don Bosco Fambul. Director Fr. Jorge welcomed us with open arms and a green flag to go ahead. Two volunteers from Ballanta, Mohamed Dainkeh and Simeon Bangura started music with two sets of children in the cramped space where mothers and the very young were temporarily sleeping on mattresses. When the excitement and curiosity of the children was awakened, Fr. Jorge agreed to extend this experience to keyboard and brass instruments so the next stage will see instrumental music beginning in this temporary facility.
Computers4Africa, a charity in the UK, donated 3 refurbished laptops to the academy. They will be used in the workshop to be run by German SES expert Stephan Flore in October. Staff will learn how to use music notation software to professionalise the look of their music among other things.
CEO of Computers4Africa George Cook said:
”They are our contribution to the recovery effort after Ebola, and music is a powerful tool to accomplish this”.
George Cook is the father of Jessica Cook whose music and dance talent endeared her to the people she worked with in her volunteer capacity at Ballanta in 2015.
Donna Felicia Faulkner, sixth form student at Limount College, will represent Ballanta Academy of Music at the forthcoming Asian African Youth Festival from 21 – 27 September 2017 in Quangzhou, China. Donna is one of the vocalists with Groovy Colours, the resident band of Ballanta. She will have a repertoire of songs arranged for her to showcase Sierra Leone when asked to perform at the Festival. “I’m very excited and a little nervous,” she said before she left.
Ballanta’s jazz band Groovy Colours who are also staff at Sierra Leone’s prestigious music academy has departed for the second East African Global Music Campus in Addis Ababa this week. The seven musicians will be there for three weeks, developing a proper professional training programme for young musicians.
The programme is co-funded by the Goethe Institut and the European Union. The training is based on a curriculum prepared by the Global Music Academy of Berlin. Along with their East African counterparts from Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan they will learn how to use a new music education system for professional music education based on African music in the region.
Last year, with the sponsorship mainly provided by Freetown Nominees, the trainees were introduced to the curriculum for Body Percussion, Rhythmic Reading and Writing, Harmony and Keyboard Harmony. They also received Main Instrument lessons and Ensemble classes.
Will Ramsay, artistic director of the programme says:
‘Ultimately the program will allow all the institutions participating to develop their own professional music education programs focussed on their own musical culture and equip them with the skills to transcribe and transform their rich music traditions into modern teaching materials for the benefit of the society at large’
Something good is happening with music education. Something good is happening to Sierra Leone. Let us support music education. Let us support Ballanta.
The Embassy of the Republic of Germany in Sierra Leone graciously sponsored the project ‘Raising the level of brass playing in Sierra Leone’. This was spearheaded by the SES volunteer Stephan Flore from Germany. The experience benefited the academy in many ways, introducing the staff to various methods of teaching, and bringing together representatives of school brass bands. The concert at the end was a grand affair, involving the magnificent sounds of the RSLAF and SLP bands, Five Star Brass Ensemble, Music and Music Entertainment’s wind group and a combined schools band. Stephan’s friends Marvin Zimmermann, Yannis Burkhard, Britta and Folker Rohlfing took turns conducting the well rehearsed numbers and the auditorium resounded with appreciative applause each time.
Ballanta is a partner in this innovative teacher training and curriculum development program co-funded by the Erasmus + program of the European Union and the Goethe-Institut. Both the administration and teaching teams of Ballanta are taking part in this capacity building program. The administration team attends the Organizational Development Workshop in Kampala, Uganda every April and Ballanta also sends a team of seven trainee teachers to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia every September for intensive training in the use of the curriculum. Ballanta will begin implementing the full curriculum in their new professional training program in 2018.
For more information about the East African Global Music Campus visit the website:
The East African Global Music Campus is supported by: