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Immersed in the rhythms of Africa
A group of young musicians impressed more than just their family and friends with their African music and dance skills at the 5th annual World Music Camp concert at the Errington Hall August 15.
For five days 24 students immersed themselves in the rhythmic music of Zimbabwe and South Africa.
They were divided into two groups and even borrowed some traditional names calling themselves the Hakuna Matata and the Coucou.
Mentored by world class instructors, the kids not only mastered the basics of marimba, drumming and West African dance, they also learned how to perform as an ensemble. Instructors Fana Soro and Sarah Van Borek, along with assistants Ramiah Smith and Nadjema Soro exposed the students to world music and gave them an appreciation of other musical cultures.
Val Dare, who initiated the music camp five years ago, said organizers only had room for 24 students at this year’s camp and unfortunately there were 15 more kids who couldn’t join because the course was full.
She said the 15 students are on a waiting list for next year’s camp but she is hoping the program can be expanded to three weeks, involving up to 72 young people ages eight and up.
“It would be wonderful to enhance opportunities for youth to learn music from around the world. Eighteen of the 20 students returned from last year’s camp so we had six new students. Obviously there is an interest in the community to expand the camp,” she said.
Dare would like to see the camp include music from other cultures and also offer education in Brazilian, Japanese and Irish music.
“This type of camp really opens their eyes to other musical cultures. The students gain appreciation of world music, and they can also relate those cultures and music that they learn to the music that is familiar to them here.”
Dare said it is an enjoyable learning process for them and at the same time the kids understand what it means to work as a team.
Instructor Sarah Van Borek agreed that there was an underlying sense of co-operation running through the camp and said that as an ensemble they all had a part to play and each of them stepped up.
“We didn’t talk about it or articulate it with the kids. It is kind of this life skill that is running through the entire program because they need to learn what they are doing but they have to do it in relation to others,” she explained.
Van Borek said not only did the students embrace the music they had to learn they also embraced each other.
“When you do one thing it is amazing to see what you are capable of but when you have the experience of playing with others you get a taste of what it means when you become greater than the sum of your parts.”
She added it was an intensive learning environment in a lively, fun atmosphere and she was impressed with how much they learned in such a short time.
“When you hear a song that has three different changes it means that one child has learned three or more different rhythmic parts and how they fit structurally with all these other poly rhythms. They have also retained who is coming in when and how their part fits in with others. It is a complex set of musical skills that they are acquiring in such a short amount of time.”
A small group of adults also learned to play the marimbas and they performed at the recital.