As I have mentioned before, Fridays at the school are a bit different. There is a section of the day called “Global Issues.” This is devoted to assemblies and events that (hopefully) connect the students to the wider world. About once a month, there is an extended period of time where students take part in a service project of one kind or another. Every student grade 6 – 12 must be involved in one of the projects. Selected students function as leaders and organizers. Every teacher must also be involved.
I was asked to co-lead the “Lusaka Children’s Choir” along with Geofrey, who is the manager of our Performing Arts Center and also directs a choir at his church and one of the local schools. They started this activity last year…students from several local schools are bused in and combined with students from our school in the hopes of making music. At the end of the year, there is a concert, which helps raise money for the local schools. Apparently, last year, they spent almost the entire time rehearsing one song for this concert…and I got the feeling that the students had become quite frustrated with this. Anyone who has seen me teach music knows that this really isn’t my style. I suggested we jump right in and learn as many songs as we could…both African songs and songs from other countries. So we started with some simple rounds – “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Music Alone Shall Live.” I taught them Natalie Sleeth’s “Gaudeamus Hodie” and the calypso tune “Shake the Papaya Down.” And Geof taught (or rather, reviewed, since most of them knew it!) a traditional Zambian song called “Tiyende Pamodzi” and also “Siyahamba” which we sing in the US as well.
I thought we sounded pretty good for a first attempt! Please forgive the horrendous quality of the video…I am just learning how to use the camera on the iPad! I also haven’t yet figured out how to embed the videos into the blog, so you’ll have to click on the links! But please do click – it is worth hearing!
The uniformed kids are from a local school called “Appleseeds” and the younger children are from a primary school called “Open Arms.” They were quite shy at first, but as you can see, they become more involved and expressive as we sang together.
Tiyende Pamodzi is a traditional African song that was popularized by Zambia’s first President, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, who used the song in his election campaign. For his purposes, the title would likely be translated as “Let’s move together with one heart.”
Siyahamba is a South African song…some you might know it as “We Are Marching in the Light of God.” I used to sing this with my kids at the Academy of Notre Dame and they loved it, too. Such a great choral song.
I am really looking forward to working with Geof and this choir as the year goes on! And I bet our end-of-the-year concert will be fantastic!