I am about halfway through with my contract at the Ngoma Dolce Music Academy, thanks to InterExchange's Christianson Grant. In just three short months I've already witnessed a great deal of change in a plethora of areas. My students are improving at a great rate. The new academy is shaping up. My protégé has been chosen and we are now working together whenever possible. I am learning quite a bit about traditional Zambian drumming and music education techniques. I could end my trip now and call it a success.
The academy has accepted my drum recruit and now apprentice; come April Charles 'Chax' Chambuluka will be the new drumset instructor at the Ngoma Dolce Music Academy.
He had been voted Zambia's best drummer several years ago and is currently in the running once again. His songs can be heard all over Zambian radio stations. Chax specializes in rumba, yet is eager to learn what I have to offer. His time, feel, and unique style are great. He has a valuable grasp on all Zambian drumset styles and possesses a good enough ear to quickly pick up new genres. Chax has teaching experience with both drumset and African hand percussion. Having always wished to teach at an academy, he was quite the find. His (commonplace) lack of formal music education, however, has become apparent. Teaching him to read has been quite a challenge. It is difficult to bring a musician capable of so much back to the absolute beginning in order to learn the basics of reading, technique, and general fundamentals. The words of my past professors have been echoing through my head loud and clear.
The biggest news at Ngoma Dolce: the move from the temporary location in Kalundu to the new, permanent home in Kabulonga. This has been quite the process and more than a long time coming. Due to transport difficulties, I've had to relocate to the new section of Lusaka as well. So each day once again begins with a bizarre yet enjoyable commute. Once I hit the dirt road, I know I'm close.
Unfortunately construction on the new academy isn't quite finished. Teaching hasn't been affected too greatly, however. It mostly just means that I now double as a construction worker; I've literally been building the first music academy in this country. I've unexpectedly learned a large amount about construction and creating soundproof rooms.
Despite this convenient and unforeseen learning opportunity, the teachers and I are all eagerly awaiting the completion.
Until that time, I will continue to build the academy and the drumming future I hope to leave it with. Stay tuned for updates…