The orchestra shaping up in Korogocho & the beauty of music in bringing us together

Shaping the next generation of musicians

The orchestra shaping up in Korogocho & the beauty of music in bringing us together

Legendary singer Bob Marley once quipped that the beauty of music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain.

It is a feeling that Stephen Ongoma can resonate with - right from five years ago when the musical bug hit him while he was a student at St. Clare Primary School, Korogocho.

Five years ago, Ongoma’s school organised a special performance of the National Anthem by the Ghetto Classics, a community-based programme that aims to transform lives of children in informal settlements through music, knowledge and skills.

As the performance went on, the young primary school pupil felt a calling to his destiny - partly out of the boyish curiosity of musical instruments being manipulated to produce powerful musical sounds.

He shortly after learnt the violin with the Ghetto classics before proceeding to the Safaricom Youth Orchestra where he recently graduated in June this year.

As they were sent forth, with the power to compose music, Ongoma had a desire to spread the bug that had brought him so much happiness.

It was during the coronavirus pandemic and he constantly observed that many young children in his neighborhood had a lot of free time with the closure of schools.

The desire to spread the musical bug was met by the opportunity of young children with a lot of free time.

His trainers had always emphasized that the earlier music instructions begin, the better.

He had learnt that the human brain is still in its formative stages between ages three and seven a time when there is improved attention and a working sharpened memory, reasoning, self-discipline and emotional attachments develop.

This culminated in the idea of teaching violin concepts to the kids in his Korogocho neighborhood.

Except that there was one problem, getting violins would be difficult.

Ongoma sought ideas from his instructor on the best approach to teach children the basics of playing violin.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and that was how the Box Violin Project was born in June.

It was a violin crafted from a carton box and a stick improvised into a bow. He has since built three more boxes customized to the size and age of his students.

Ongoma now presides over weekly classes with four students - ages three to 10 - lively and useful to teach the basics of playing the actual instrument. Such as correct posture, how to handle a bow, discipline with taking care of their box violins, the movements of playing.

His students also learn the art of performance which he demonstrates using his own real violin, which the children marvel at.

In the video below, listen to how Stephen is using the Box Violin Project to bring closer the musical world to children.

Indeed, when we come together, great things happen!

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