The abayudaya are very musical. They have many of their own melodies that they sing during the course of the service in synagogue. There is little harmonisation but the songs are sung with feeling and a sense of rhythm and musicality. Many of their songs are sung in Luganda language.
Culturally rich as the abayuday music is, I feel that it would be nice if abayudaya children would have the opportunity to learn western music. I have played instruments for much of my life and hope abayudaya kids will similarly be able to experience the enjoyment I have had from playing music. Apart from the sheer pleasure there is evidence that learning to play an instrument provides a whole range of skills, social, educational and cognitive.
There were no instruments available for general use of the children although I saw a few well used instruments in one community member's house. There is no teacher of music in the abayudaya community.
I took some recorders along with me when I visited the community in November as these really are a most efficient way of getting to grips with western music.
I was unable to teach any of the school children as they had just broken up for their long holidays. But whilst I was playing for msyelf Samson and his friend expressed interest in learning. In the space of a few days they had mastered almost the whole of the first octave, and even started on the second. They might have a natural sense of rhythm, but they found it hard going learning to read from manuscript. This was after all a crash course! I had less than a week to teach them the rudiments of music and playing the recorder before I had to leave. I was just amazed at how seriously they took to their new instrument and how much we accomplished.
I left exercises, music and a few instruments behind for Samson and friends to practise. Samson is going to pass on his new skills to those who were unable to join in, in time for my next visit.
This really is not the best way to go about introducing young people to music, but it will have to do for the moment. I'll be back with more instruments and be able to teach for another week soon. The ideal solution would be to have a teacher visit the community on a regular basis to give lessons. If you are interested in sponsoring a music teacher for the abayudaya then please contact me via the email at the top of the page.