It was Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics, who said: “Life without playing music is inconceivable to me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music … I get most joy in my life out of music.”
Learning a music instrument has been scientifically proven to improve social, creative and cognitive powers of individuals. Music education is one of the skills being emphasised in the new school curriculum that lays emphasis on practical abilities.
Just this week, early childhood learners to high school students have been showcasing their best talents during the annual Kenya National Music Festival.
The experience of learning music and dance could transform radically for these young talents with the introduction of an application that has proved to be a useful tool for students in Europe.
An innovative music education concept that has worked in several countries around the world is being introduced in Kenya this year.
EC-Play, which stands for “Everyone Can Play” was developed in Norway to change early stage music education.
The programme has proved effective in nurturing confidence and motivation in students in Norway, where it was first developed to other parts of Europe including Poland and the UK.
The objective of the application is to demonstrate how elementary and lower secondary age children can use music to become well-rounded human beings.
This is a platform that enables learners to share, practise and compete in music skills including easy methods and tools for learning music instruments.
Brenda Jimris-Rekve, a Kenyan entrepreneur based in Norway explains that the introduction of this tech-based music education in Kenya will begin with Montessori schools and then gradually be used in all institutions, including juvenile centres and correctional facilities.
“I met the developers of the app at the most appropriate time when the education system in Kenya is changing and reintroducing music back into the curriculum,” says Brenda.
“I saw the opportunity based on the success story of EC-Play in Europe that could grow the well being of pupils in schools through access to music education.”
Kenya will act as the launch pad for the app in Africa and depending on the lessons learnt here the technology will be introduced to other countries.
The app is fun and makes learning of music instruments, from guitars to violin, piano to drums, a joyous experience for children.
The concept uses chord stickers available for download inside the app and a colour code system that enables an individual to learn an instrument in the shortest time possible.
So rather than reading music notes, the learner uses a colour system, which act as a teaching tool.
Each instruments has an individual set of chord stickers that enable the learner to master that instrument by playing different songs through their melodic hooks and chord patterns.
Even the teaching of music has been simplified such that even tutors with no background of playing instruments can use the colour code to teach music.
EC-Play was founded by Jostein Skare, a Norwegian entrepreneur whose background is in the international trade of musical instruments. In the last decade, he has turned his attention to music education in primary and lower secondary school and hence the development of the app.
“This is not just a story of a Norwegian company bringing their app to Kenya but rather applying a model that has been successful in other parts of the world and learning the lessons that arise from the challenges that are unique to Kenya,” says Brenda.
The app developers will hold workshops and master classes in Nairobi this year involving music educators, artists and young leaners. Philip “Filah” Tuju founder of the Redfourth Chorus choir that comprises schoolchildren of different age groups is one of the main facilitators of the EC-Play training in Kenya.
The app can be downloaded on both Google Play and Apple Store with a freemium (basic) version available at no fee while payment is required for the license of the advanced EC-Play.
“We understand that paying for license may be a challenge for public schools and that is why we are also rallying supporters and well-wishers to alleviate the costs, including hiring or buying of instruments,” says Jimris-Rekve.
She is also optimistic that the development of the new curriculum will also involve the allocation of commensurate government resources that are a requisite for music education.