25 February 2013

Zimbabwe: 'Crossroads' Academy to Open in April

The Music Crossroads Academy is set to open its doors in April with an initial enrolment of 30 students drawn from poor and marginalised backgrounds, participants to a one-day stakeholders' meeting heard last week. At least 25 percent of the intake will be reserved for women artistes, Music Crossroads Zimbabwe director Mathias Bangure told delegates.

Bangure was presenting a progress report on the proposed college which will see a total of 90 aspiring musicians -- aged between 18 and 30 - enrolling with the college over the next three years.

He said MCZ Academy's goal was to bridge existing gaps in the music education chain, adding a much needed intermediary level to link basic and higher music education, related to both theoretical knowledge and vocational practice.

"We believe that by launching the MC Academy we are taking a positive step towards making our musicians a more learned and professional group of people, which we hope in the long run, will improve on the growth of the local music sector," said Bangure.

He noted that in Europe and North America the music industry employed hundreds of thousands of individuals as musicians, technical experts record producers, music managers, music and instrument teachers, arts managers and administrators, copyright societies and the media.

"In Africa, some governments like Mali and Senegal had invested in the music sector (including education) ever since independence in the early 1960s, which has created a nucleus of a musical industry that has launched a number of international stars' careers like Salif Keita, Baaba Mal, Youssor Ndor and many others," the Music Crossroads Zimbabwe director said.

In explaining the 25 percent women's quota, Bangure noted that despite the enormous strides made of the last few decades, women in the music sector continued to be relegated to the background as backing vocalists or "sexy dancers" notwithstanding their potential to excel in their own right.

"The certified MC Academy one-year courses will add the necessary, basic tools for musical creativity, professional performances and life skills to enable students to pursue musical careers independently of other educational pursuits," he said.

The students, who would be selected via a combination of auditions and interviews, will be trained in harmony, rhythmic reading and writing, modern, traditional instrument, voice and ensemble training.

The meeting brought together representatives of Music Crossroads Zimbabwe partners in the project, namely the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Global Music Academy, Yamaha, Focusrite, In Tune for Life, Music Crossroads International, Music Crossroads Malawi, as well as members of the local music fraternity.

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