Guinea in MayMay 9, 2016
It was going to be June but then Ramadan starts in early June this year and there is definitely no music making during the holy month so my trip had to take place in May or wait another 4 months after the end of the (very) wet season to see my students in Conakry.
L'ecole fula flute, the music education program with the children of the Centre Tyabala de Guinée continues at it's own pace, discovering itself along the way. From the beginning it appeared that a music education process to be truly successful in Guinea had to grow from the root rather than be applied from above. Although, a well financed effort using overwhelming means to establish a bonafide music conservatory would be a worthwhile pursuit, the level of funding required would be politically difficult to achieve given the actual immediate needs of the population.
The no-nonsense approach that was championed with our Kickstarter project of 2014 (Music Literacy for Guinea) is a credible alternative to offer Guineans theoretical and practical musical knowledge with minimum of resources: a space, a teacher, a blackboard, some desks, paper and pencils, chairs, and homemade flutes that have the ability to play in all twelve keys and allow a cultural connection with the population.
Our intervention in 2014, began the process to give musical literacy and achieve such a goal would require a sustained effort over many years, it however had a positive impact on the musical abilities of our students: they were deeply stimulated and their minds were expanded. Subsequently, their instruction was, by the grace of providence, provided by a living legend of the Malinke flute, Master Mamady Mansare, who offered them a comprehensive foundation in the language of the traditional instrument. He succeeded to the point where our students were invited to perform for the inauguration of the second mandate of President Alpha Condé, a little miracle that we joyfully witnessed first hand when it serendipitously materialized as my wife and I visited last December.
Then, by another intervention of good fortune, events conspire to bring the wonderful musician Bouba N'beng to teach percussion and ngoni, which they are absorbing with equal intensity.
The situation now is that the Centre is receiving a modicum of material support – thanks to the funds generously donated by you, dear contributors – allowing for teachers of music and alphabetization. An improvement to the previous situation certainly, but still rather meager...
I am going over there for a couple of weeks, leaving today, and we will see where we are at. I will report to you about it when I return, dear Friends. I don't expect anything out of the ordinary but you never know...
Thank you for your interest and support, always.