Wow, Iʼve been very busy!
Last Sunday (24th August) I had a day out in Kampala with Sharon (Frankʼs eldest daughter). First we went to a service at Watoto Church Central which was amazing! It was totally different to a typical service at home. A band of an electric keyboard, an electric guitar, a bass guitar and a drum kit accompanied the congregation singing, which had more in common with gospel singing than with hymns. The atmosphere was a lot livelier and happier and more accessible – a very enjoyable service! Then we went to the East African Craft Village where I bought a necklace with a giraffe pendant, a bracelet bearing the word “Uganda” in the colours of the Ugandan flag (black, red and yellow) and a pair of earrings made from plantain fibre. Then we went to the main shopping mall in Kampala – Acacia Mall – for lunch to celebrate Sharonʼs cousinʼs birthday with her other cousins. In fact, the restaurant we went to was KFC – another first for me. And then we went to the Ugandan National Cultural Centre (UNCC) to watch an outdoor show of traditional music and dancing by the Mizizi Ensemble which Poly (Frankʼs eldest son – 19 years old) is in. To get there we got two taxis (minibuses) and a boda boda – a motorcycle taxi – again, another first for me. It was a lovely relaxing day spent with new friends whom I feel Iʼve known for much longer than just 2 weeks.
Tuesday was another day which was slightly out of the ordinary, as it was Graceʼs 7th birthday! Alex (Frankʼs third child – 17 years old) and Poly stayed up the night before baking her a cake, but unfortunately there was a power cut when the cake was halfway through cooking so it had to be scrapped. And then the same happened with the second cake. Poor Grace. But Santa Claus came to the rescue at Frankʼs call and delivered a lovely birthday cake in the evening which Grace was very happy with. The senior violin class and I played her happy birthday as the cake was brought in. I gave her a small present of a postcard with a photo of Edinburgh on it, a packet of vanilla fudge and a pair of earrings – she was very happy!
Alex and I were involved in a church choir competition on Sunday (31st August). We had rehearsals for it on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. It was a competition between four Catholic church choirs on the theme of the Ugandan martyrs. We played first violin and second violin respectively as part of a small ensemble which was accompanying one of the choirs. The other instruments were a flute, a trumpet, a french horn, a glockenspiel and a piano. It was the oddest concert Iʼve ever done! Ugandan concerts involve a lot more talking than concerts back home – in fact thereʼs almost more compering than playing. There was no dressing room provided for the performers so I had to get changed behind the toilets. And there was no place to get our violins out of their cases so we did this hurriedly at the side of the hall just before going on stage and Andrew looked after our cases and bags while we were performing. It was lovely to hear all the choirs singing traditional songs and to be involved in such a competition.
Today (Tuesday 2nd September) Frank, Andrew and I paid a visit to Kampala Music School. This school is different from the other music projects in Uganda. (Its aim is simply to provide a good music education to children whose families can afford to pay for it; the other projects, including Tender Talents, provide a good music education in order to improve childrenʼs lives.) We had a tour of the school and purchased a grade 5 theory workbook. We also got the phone number of the violin repairer at the school so that he can give us a quote for mending the violins that we have that are broken. Then we visited MLisada (the music project which took part in the function that I went to during my first week here). M-Lisada is an orphanage which teaches music, drama, dance and acrobatics. These classes take place in the evenings and at the weekends when the children arenʼt at school. Itʼs such an inspiring project. Many of the students are initially street children who are taken in, given a bed to sleep in, food to eat, medical attention and – an arts education! Amazing. And then we went to a Ugandan restaurant for lunch before returning to Tender Talents for evening classes.
All my classes are going very well. The theory class is now halfway through grade 4, the two beginnersʼ violin classes have started using left-hand fingering, the double basses are improving their sight-reading, and the senior violin class has started practising vibrato exercises. Yesterday we had the first orchestra rehearsal ever. Not everyone was playing, as not everyone had learned their part yet. Nevertheless, it was a very impressive first rehearsal. I was very happy with it.
More excitement awaits!