Musical education is much more than just learning to play an instrument. It gives children and young people a chance to develop their imagination and creativity, two of the main skills needed for improving one's life: first to imagine that there is a better a life and then to create it. Learning music teaches people to work as a team, and helps children come out of some of the most difficult circumstances in their lives. As one of our music students in South America wrote: "Learning to play music has changed my life and that of people around me. Now I can see life differently." The voices of children and young people are rarely heard in the international and domestic dialogues. We believe that music education can be an opportunity for the young music learners, with the right content and guidance, to create the dialogue of the future, widening the educational opportunity not only to the musicians directly involved with this programme, but also to countless others they will be interacting with.
Since 2012, Keys of Change is providing guitar, singing and dance lessons for group of students in Quito. The guitar students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and cannot afford to go to school. Their education is sponsored by our partner charity in Ecuador, the Condor Trust for Education. In the case of singing and dance classes, Keys of Change works together with the education centre Honrar la Vida, where the students come from a very deprived area in the outskirts of Quito, where violence and crime are daily realities.
Keys of Change together with the Condor Trust for Education also provided funds and support for several children whose families live in the rainforest in a community called Sani. The community in Sani does not have a functioning secondary school, so children who want to attend secondary school have to leave their families and live and study in Coca, a town two hours by motor canoe from Sani.
Using our experience from similar projects in different parts of the world, Keys of Change would like to inspire the children and young people in Serbia facing hardships, and help them feel the sense of life changing recognition, achievement, collaboration and leadership, that can be offered through learning music and playing in a group.
Starting in 2017, our music programme in Serbia takes place at five children homes in and around Belgrade, in the form of group music lessons, focusing initially in the learning of choir singing and percussion instruments, which take place once a week. These musical activities aim to strengthen the self- confidence and personal identities of young people facing extraordinary situation in life, and will enable them to grow and face with hope, courage and confidence the challenges of their daily lives.
Keys of Change first visited Ghana in 2018 and visited Kinder Paradise, a German organisation that provides shelter and support for abandoned children. Following requests from local teachers, and in collaboration with the German charity Kinder Paradise, Keys of Change began providing music lessons via skype in the summer of 2019. Subsequently, we planned a music camp for November 2019, involving the local students and a group of foreign teachers. This culminated in a public performance in the city of Accra, and the launch of the Accra Youth Sinfonietta.
Keys of Change has been continuing to provide weekly lessons to several children at Kinder Paradise and plans to return soon for more live musical activities.
Keys of Change works closely with the musicians of the Orquesta Juvenil Santa Cecilia at the Escuela Iniciación Musical Santa Cecilia in Vincente Guerrero, Oaxaca. Keys of Change is proud to provide music education for these bright Mexican students, and to also visit their school regularly for joint performances.
The story began in 2011, when young people facing major difficulties, including drugs, violence and poverty, decided they needed an outlet in their daily lives to help them escape the harsh reality in their barrio. They chose music, formed the Banda de la Música and, with the help of a local music teacher, set up a music school. Apart from the opportunities and safety this created for young people in Vincente Guerrero, it was a deeply symbolic gesture, as the landfill of Oaxaca lies next to this community: while Oaxaca would bring their garbage to Vincente Guerrero, the young people of the community would give back music.
Keys of Change first came to Chennai in May 2019. Western classical music has a limited presence in South India, but interest has been increasing. There is no regular orchestra or youth orchestra that performs in the city, yet more and more young students are learning Western instruments. Keys of Change is aiming to be part of a group of partners, including Musée Musical, founded in the 1800s, which is the oldest music store in India and currently also a music school. assisting in the creation of a youth orchestra in the city of Chennai, which will be open to players of all levels, and all backgrounds, but particularly to those contending with difficulties in life, and will be an empowerment opportunity for all those involved.
Looking ahead, we would like to help with the next steps and make this a life-changing activity for the young Indian musicians. We are aiming for a first performance by the end of 2020.
In 2013 Keys of Change supported a Children Wind Orchestra in Sierra Leone, organised by the Ballanta Academy of Music in Freetown. Keys of Change first came to Sierra Leone in April 2012, invited by the Ballanta Academy in Freetown to play piano recitals in amputee centres, women’s support group, prison, elderly home, school for blind children, local clinics and slum communities.
In 2010 instruments were donated to the Ballanta Academy to start a brass band for children made up of street children or otherwise disadvantaged kids. The project started with training on Saturdays but did not continue for lack of funding. With the help from Keys of Change the project started again.
In the outskirts of Kampala, in the town called Nansana, is the Rainbow House, a centre run by Japanese organisation Ashinaga, that provides emotional and educational support to orphans who have lost one or both parents as a result of HIV/AIDS. Keys of Change first visited the Rainbow House in 2012. Between 2013-14 Keys of Change worked together with Ashinaga-Uganda to provide musical education to these orphans. The choice of instruments and genre was given to the students themselves, and they chose to learn traditional Ugandan music.