Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Malawi Music Project 2012 Check out this link to see pics from the Malawi Music Project 2012. For the fourth year in a row, we brought 30 young musicians from all over Malawi together for a week of HIV/AIDS awareness and education in addition to classes and workshops teaching Music Theory, Creativity, Music Appreciation, Rhythm, Sight Reading, Creativity, Song Writing, Improvisation, Music Business/Management, Composition, Stage Presentation, and Encouragement!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Konkalazi at Sweden UKM festival June 2012

Here's another Konkalazi performance at the UKM festival in Sweden during the tour.

Konkalazi at UKM Norway 2012

This is Konkalazi, one of the bands I manage/train at Music Crossroads.  The video is of them performing at the UKM Festival in Norway. It was our last stop on their European tour. These guys are amazing! Enjoy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Malawi Music Project 2011 PHOTOS

Malawi Music Project 2011

This past December, I planned and conducted the third Malawi Music Project in the capital city of Lilongwe Malawi (with lots of help of course). I was a counselor at the previous camp which was started by Peace Corps volunteers three years ago and was so happy to help keep it going. My past year with Music Crossroads has been such a rich and rewarding experience, and I was happy that they were willing to partner with Peace Corps to keep the camp not only moving forward, but getting stronger and stronger. Check out the following article written by PC volunteer, Brianna Scroggins:


Lackson Chazima, a well-dressed man with pressed white shirt, black dress pants and polished black shoes and belt claps his hands in a three eighth note progression. The circle of three dozen people around him replicate his actions.
Clap. Stomp. Clap.
Clap. Stomp. Clap.
Clap-Clap-Clap. Stomp. Clap.
Clap-Clap-Clap. Stomp. Clap.
“Ho! Ho! Ha!”
“Ho! Ho! Ha!” The group’s voice echoes off the concrete floors and walls.
“Brrerrrrerrrrerrrr. HA!”
“Brrerrrrerrrrerrrr. HA!”
After a brief silence the group realizes the warm-up exercise is over and bursts into laughter. Chazima, 40, from Lilongwe, Malawi, is a music theory teacher and vocal trainer for Music Crossroads Malawi, an NGO that helps develop the musical environment in this small East African country. He leads the group back to its seats to continue the second day of the Malawi Music Project.
Peace Corps Volunteers started this annual music camp two years earlier with just 15 participants. Malawi Music Project Coordinator, Phillip Rich, 30, from Montrose, Colorado, is a second-year Peace Corps Volunteer who started working with Music Crossroads Malawi nine months ago. To strengthen the effectiveness, diversity and sustainability of the music camp, Rich decided to make Music Crossroads Malawi a key partner in running the camp.
“I was a counselor at the previous music camp and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Rich explains. “What I am seeing right now is a lot of cooperation between the students, the Crossroads staff and the Peace Corps Volunteers. It’s a fantastic collaboration because one thing that we share from all over the world is a love for music. It’s one language that we all speak.”
The Malawi Music Project is a weeklong music camp for aspiring young musicians who practice instruments and vocals. Participants attend lessons on music composition and harmony, rhythm, improvisation, singing a cappella, music appreciation and different styles of music from across Africa. They also learn about traditional drumming, handling of electric instruments, stage presence and audio engineering.
Second -year education Volunteer, Chris Murphy, 40, from Los Angeles, California, is a counselor at the Malawi Music Project and taught music appreciation. The group used traditional wraps called “chitenjes” to blindfold themselves before listening to different styles of music from across Africa.
“Music heals the youth of all countries, inspires them, accepts them, guides them in their future,” Murphy explains. “You can’t grow up a bully and follow the beat of harmonious melodies at the same time.”
What makes the Malawi Music Project more than just a music camp is its additional lessons on HIV/AIDS and discussions on other social issues Malawians face.
“As a musician, I am at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS especially when we’ll be known worldwide,” singer Chrispin Kachilika, 16, from Mulanje District in Malawi, explains, “so if I want to live a long and healthy life, I should use the ABC [Abstinence, Being faithful and using Condoms] methods so that my talent should not be killed.”
Gayighayi Matthews Mfune, 41, of Lilongwe, Malawi, is the Director of Music Crossroads Malawi and Co-organizer of the Malawi Music Project.
“Using music as a medium can affect the social environment of our young people,” Mfune explains. “There are various issues such as HIV/AIDS and environment where Peace Corps is also very much involved. So we found it a very good thing to partner with them for this Malawi Music Project where we will be addressing these issues through music. Once [the participants] have been empowered through music we expect that when they go back to their areas they will continue with these songs that they will address these various issues in their villages.”
Laughter Liwotcha, 12, from Balaka, Malawi, has been playing the keyboard for two years and wants to be a musician promoting positive topics.
“My father inspires me to be a musician because he’s also a musician who plays guitar, keyboard and harmonica. I want people to hear my message and my message is the prevention of HIV/AIDS.”
As the end of each day participants gather together in “bands” to write a song on HIV/AIDS, the environment, women’s empowerment, or any other social issue. Peace Corps Volunteers and Junior Counselors (participants who have attended previous camps) assist the bands as they work. At the completion of the camp, each band performs their song on stage.
First-year Peace Corps Volunteer, Andrew Goforth, 37, from Spartanburg, South Carolina, plays guitar and mandolin and sings. As a counselor at the Malawi Music Project, Goforth is working with “Angel Band,” a roots-oriented band that uses acoustic guitar and traditional drums and is singing about HIV/AIDS.
“Music is one of the most important things in my life,” Goforth explains. “I couldn’t imagine life without it and I feel it is important to give people a chance to experience music at an early age. It gives them an outlet for expression where they can be themselves and not feel any pressure from peers about how they may or may not feel about something. It is a part of their culture that is quickly disappearing.”
After the battle of the bands on the final day, the participants’ progress was undeniable.
“The kids’ improvement really showed at the battle [of the bands],” Rich said. “They not only used the messages and techniques they were exposed to, but were confident in doing so on stage. It’s really inspiring to see young people become confident in who they are simply because someone took the time to encourage their talents. Simply believing in someone can change you both for the better.”
Kondwani Kalukusha, 21, from Nkhotakota District, Malawi, has been playing guitar and singing for eight years. Hand-making his first guitar of three strings and gradually adding to five strings, Kondwani’s passion for music is undeniable.
“I have learned how to play the electric guitar and I am very, very happy,” Kalukusha explains. “So the purpose of this skill is not to move back but to move forward so that I can see and I can obtain the real meaning of this skill. I am a musician and I will be a musician for the rest of my life.”

For further information on Music Crossroads Malawi, the Malawi Music Project or Peace Corps Malawi:

For photos:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Movin' On Up!! (NEW ADDRESS)

I made the move out of my village and arrived in Lilongwe yesterday!! What a headache to move all my meager belongings halfway across the country in rainy season, but all well that ends well. I am currently staying at a guesthouse with my soon to be roomate, Antonia. Peace Corps is telling us that we should be able to move into our new house sometime next week and then I will be able to start work with Music Crossroads soon after that!! Although I was sad to leave my village and my PC friends in the North, I am very happy and excited to start working with Music Crossroads and teaching music to kids as well as HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention here in the capital city. Also, Antonia said she loves to cook!!! Those of you who know me personally know that cooking is a big part of what I like to call my "nonexistent skillset", so I'm happy she enjoys it and is willing to help contribute to my survival here. So, what's gonna change, you ask? Well, I am now living in the capital city with access to a lot of things I previously did not:
Running Water
Easy Internet Access
Food, glorious food!!
Access to PC Office (resources/help)
These are the big ones for sure, and it's gonna be a big change for me. Not sure how I'm gonna cope or adjust, ya know? Pangono pangono [little by little](they speak a different language here, Chichewa, so I will soon be tri-lingual in Malawi!) Anyway, thanks for all the support and kind words from back home. Here's my new address if you want to send letters or packages:


Thanks again to everyone who has sent stuff already, it means a lot. All the best.

Random shout out to a reader: HI, JO'S MOM!!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ask and you shall receive...

Hey everyone,
Just wanted to say thanks for the interest/quick response to my request. The mother of another Peace Corps Volunteer contacted me and expressed her interest in helping my friend Paulos! I just wanted to let everyone know and to say thanks to her and others who are interested in his cause. I have moved out of my village and am now working on getting my things to Lilongwe so that I can start work with Music Crossroads asap. Thanks for the support, and I'll keep you posted on any upcoming projects once I start my new job!