In Nairobi, an El Sistema program working with disadvantaged youth

Posted on: December 4, 2017

“Though Faith Syovata had almost lost her voice because of a cold, the students still hung on her every whispered word,” writes Ginanne Brownell Mitic in Wednesday’s (11/29) New York Times. “With violins tucked under their chins, the 14-year-olds at Kawangware Primary School [in west Nairobi, Kenya] had their bows at the ready as she pointed out notes for the song on the blackboard…. Three times a week for two hours these 20 or so children, as well as a younger group that the teenagers help mentor, get violin classes through the El Sistema Kenya (ESK) program…. In January, a new program will begin in Juja, about 18 miles from Nairobi.” The program is headed by American violinist Karis Crawford, who had been teaching at an international school in Kenya and “began volunteering on weekends, giving music lessons to children in a Nairobi slum…. She set up master classes with Kenya youth orchestra musicians and alums, training them to run the program; those volunteers still make up the majority of her tutors…. At first, teachers in the school and parents were skeptical [but] the concerts were packed.”

Posted December 4, 2017