When we first arrived in Malawi in August 2013, our timetable was pretty much set for the first few weeks. Music Crossroads Malawi welcomed us with a big party at the center, and had made plans for us to go through an introductory Chichewa course, to travel to Mzuzu and Nkhotakota to meet potential collaboration partners for MCM, to spend a few days by Lake Malawi swimming, to perform at City of Stars Festival and to attend Blantyre Arts Festival. After being taken care of for the first six weeks, it was now up to the six of us to further get to know the country, people and culture in a continent which until then was unexplored by us personally. It took some time to find our own “place” at the center, but after some weeks, we all found different projects and activities that we wanted to work in. Here is a sum – up of what the six of us have filled our “everyday lives” with the past six months!
Bård, here known as «B» has developed his guitar skills by accompanying Kine on various events in Lilongwe, and has developed significantly on the bass guitar. He has been playing music with artists from Malawi, such as George Kalukusha and the band Mafilika. Listen to George and Mafilikas music here and here . Together with Kine, he was responsible for the making of the video of this years MOVE – song, which he recorded and mixed in collaboration with the lead singer in Mafilika, Ernest Ikwanga. He has also been found behind the camera in the making of various music videos for different people, including Ubale band and King I (find the videoes here) . Bård has also designed posters for various musical events. According to him, he has also gone from skill level zero to skill level two in cooking, and is now able to make a decent meal consisting of rice, fish sticks, and curry soup from a bag –but, oh!- added with both fresh potatoes, and fresh carrots.
Kine started off by supporting the voice teachers at the center with choir and hosted some of the choir sessions at the Global Music Academy. Last year she hosted songwriting sessions together with Neil Nayar and myself, and together with Bård she hosted a short «Introductory course to Norway» for the Malawian MOVE- participants who left for Norway in January this year. Here, the participants learned how to say «huff, nå er det kaldt» and «ja-a!» while breathing in, and were also warned about the large amount of bread and brown cheese they will consume during their stay in Norway. Kine has been involved with the Daughters band, and wrote an article about this group which she posted on the homepage of Musikk og Ungdom (found here). She helped organize the local World Youth Choir auditions together with the Communications Officer at Music Crossroads. Together with Neil Nayar, she wrote this years MOVE – song and was responsible for the making of the music video.
Espen has taught bass and piano at the center, and has been involved in the Young In Prison projecton a weekly basis. See his blogpost about YIP here. He has also been involved in organizing various events at the center, amongst others the Music Crossroads Academy graduation and a children´s festival that is coming up soon. Together with Lisa and Gard, he has gone to Nkhotakota to host a music project at Nkhotakota Youth center, in collaboration with Florø VGS. During the first weeks of our stay, Espen was involved in a local choir, testing out one of his own compositions for the first time, amongst other things. Espen has gotten addicted to the cheap and lovely food product ´soya pieces´. He has let his hair and beard grow long, making him look far older than nineteen years old! Because of this, he has been given different titles by people he´s met on the street, thereby: doctor, professor, Mr. President, and last, but in no way least; Jesus! Oh; and, Chuck Norris.
Lisa, on her hand, has been busy with revolutionizing the position of the underestimated instrument ´the recorder´ in area 23, Lilongwe. These days, you would not be surprised to hear sweet tones of «When the saints go marching in» blending with the sound of the children in the street here in Chilinde! (Especially not if you happen to pass Aliko´s Green Nursery…) She has collected a lot of recorders from Norway, to give young people at the center the chance to get to know music through this instrument. Together with Gard and Espen, she has paid a montly visit (one week at a time) to Nkhotakota Youth Organization. She and Gard has participated in a classical orchestra set in our neighborhood in Chilinde, called the New Apostolic Church Orchestra. This orchestra consists of about thirty string players and ten wind players. At the moment she is together with Kine organizing the musical contributions that will be found at the Norwegian Embassy on Norways national day, 17th of May this year. Lisa has also played recorder at a few events around town.
Gard must first and foremost be acknowledged as a remarkable active chichewa speaker. It holds no doubt that he is the most advanced chichewa speaker of the six of us, and that he has put a lot of energy into learning the local language. Gard has thought mandolin and violin one – to – one, and has participated in a group at the center, which aims to understand the principles of Szonyi pedagogics. He and five other people has created a band called Los Amigos, consisting of himself, two americans and three malawians. They play and create music with inspiration from their various musical backgrounds, and have held a few concerts around town. Gard has learned to play the traditional malawian instrument Sansi when he spent two weekends in Ntchisi in the home of the malawian musician Charles Mkanthama, where he also built his own sansi. Gard recently spent a week in Zanzibar, attending the Sauti Za Busara Festival. In addition to enjoying the festival, he took a few lessons in Taarab music, and thought string players at Dhow Countries Music Academy. Gard has been involved in the process of transcribing and archive traditional malawian folksongs, and he has learned how to cook some nice traditional malawian food!
Ingvild (ie myself) began the stay with hosting one – to – one voice lessons, together with piano lessons. I have been involved in music theory lessons at the Global Music Academy, one – to – one, and in smaller groups. As well as Espen I have been involved in the Young In Prison project twice a week, where I have spent some of the time teaching guitar. I have also had lessons in the african drum (n´goma). During several of the workshops in the Young In Prison project, I got the chance to play drums while an unbelievably talented group of dancers from the prison danced! These days I am working on a project which aims to strengthen the availability of Malawian Folksongs to both a national and an international audience. Together with Kine and Bård, I will this week go to Balaka to host a «week of music» there, for the second time. Lastly, I am proud to have taught several Malawians the two most important phrases to know in Norwegian; «nå kosær vi vårrs», and «nå har´a pønta sæ».