Our final day here was another busy one as we prepared for the open rehearsal later in the day. The previous evening we had been asked by Reverend Josh if we could come along to a talent contest his church had organised to promote Brass for Africa
and to tell the audience what we were trying to achieve. We assumed this would be a low key event but there were a good 500 people in the church listening to the 5 contestants perform their 3 songs with a pane; of 3, including Rev Josh, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Randy Jackson.
The singers were of a very high quality and then Jim outlined what Brass for Africa were trying to achieve before the girls performed a tune, They all did very well and seemed to enjoy the buzz of performing to an audience.
The following day after a morning rehearsal myself and Jim, along with 4 of the girls went to Rev Josh's radio station to give an interview about Brass for Africa. The girls performed their tune again and spoke very confidently about how they have enjoyed learning a brass instrument and what they could gain out of this.
We had another rehearsal before our open rehearsal outside the orphanage and the children excelled themselves.
This has been a steep learning curve for the children and it has been difficult for them them to take in so much. This morning we didn't have all the children there, not because they were sleeping in or bunking off. Some were cooking for the orphanage, some cleaning, some collecting water. This life is so difficult for them and yet they take it with such good grace and humour.
Yet again my trip to Africa has been difficult, heartbreaking, but most of all inspiring.
Day 2 of our mini trip to Monrovia started with a run on the beach. Now, I like running but I forgot how tiring it is running on sand.
The view may well have been spectacular but I was concentrating on not stopping or sinking into the sand. I'm sure it'll be easier tomorrow...
We planned two brass sessions with the children today and this time we were on the steps of the new orphanage.
We started with our warm ups and played Frere Jaques in a round and it worked very well. The last 2 months when they have been getting used to the instruments they have had no music ( which thankfully turned up today) so It is taking a little time to read the notes but we did some rhythm exercises and that was very successful.
The second session we ran through the four pieces we will be playing in the concert tomorrow and they seem to be taking shape nicely.This is a lot for the children to take in and I have been impressed with their concentration as these are not the easiest conditions to play in.
Tonight myself and Jim have been invited to a talent contest, a sort of Liberia's got talent adjudicated by Reverend Josh, who also helps out at the orphanage. We will be taking a couple of the children along to play a little tune with us to show what Brass for Africa is trying to do.
And it's still not raining.....
We arrived safely early Thursday morning with the BA 767 being flown by Brass For Africa's very own Jim Trott!
It is rainy season in Liberia and the rain didn't disappoint as it hammered down for a couple of hours. The sun broke through late morning and Jm and myself went to see the old orphanage and the new orphanage just across from it.
The old orphanage was deemed unfit for habitation and when you see some of the shacks dotted around you understand how difficult it must have been for the children. The roof didn't keep much of the rain out and with the rainy season being for many months disease was a real possibility.
Brass for Africa has funded the rent for 2 years in the new orphanage and the improvement in their quality of life is massive. The home is clean and has solar lights, seperate dorms and each child has their own bed and mattress.
It doesn't sound like much but previously they were sharing 3 to a mattress. The home is clean and they have a cleaning rota that is strictly kept to. You can sense the children's pride in their new home.
An hour later we came back and took our first brass session. The children have had a couple of weeks tuition from some local military musicians and were keen to show myself and Jim 'Frere Jacques'. We the got them to play in a round which was very successful!
We had a good hour playing through new tunes, including 'When the Saints' which proved very popular.
I have written a 10 lesson plan especially for the coming months so that they can get used to having a structure when practising.
Like Kampala, their aural abilities are very good so it's a question of building on that and working on their notation reading.
Also like Kampala they are keen to learn new things and seemed to love being part of a band.
All in all a good first day, and the sun is still shining!