Why African and Brazilian music?

Laurence Hill, Greenwich Young Musicians founderWhen you think of the UK, “naturally musical” is not a phrase that would occur to you as much as it may do for countries such as Brazil, West Africa, Cuba or even Ireland.

Are the people of these countries inherently more musically talented? The answer I believe is NO!

The connection between these countries is a strong and unbroken folk music tradition. The musicians of these countries have a long established and very structured informal learning process whereby the “folk” are able to learn the language of music through singing and rhythmic participation alongside their musically accomplished elders, before they begin themselves to learn a particular instrument.

“I have studied traditional music with local musicians in Senegal, Guinea and Ghana in West Africa and in Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Olinda in Brazil. In each case, music provided a deep connection between members of the community and the musical skills required to play it were taken very seriously” – Laurence Hill, Greenwich Young Musicians founder

What’s special about Africa and Brazil?

Both West Africa and Brazil are world-renowned for their traditional music. In West Africa, the famous “griots” are the guardians of their tribe’s music, passing on historical and mythological knowledge through highly skilled and powerful music. Meanwhile in Brazil, “samba schools” from the poor neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro come together to celebrate their identity through music and dance, where children look on as their relatives play samba with rhythmical poetry.

Our classes are based on the “pure music” learning structure used in African and Brazilian folkloric music. The songs we learn in our classes contain the important rhythmical and melodic framework of the music, and will inherently inform the children about rhythm and melody.

Arty Fume FumeGenres of song we will learn include:

  • Kpanlogo (Ghana)
  • Maracatu (north-east Brazil)
  • Malinke (Upper Guinea)
  • Susu (Maritime Guinea)

We will sing songs, clap the most important rhythms, and learn to play all the percussion parts.

What other areas of music will my child learn about?

African and Brazilian music is an ideal initial starting point for musical learning, but that is only the beginning of the Greenwich Young Musicians programme.

Music is an aural art form, and therefore aural skills are the most important to learn – developed strongly by listening and imitating. However, learning to read and write music is also important in many areas of music, and will be built up over time on our courses.

In the Summer term of their first year, your child will begin to learn an instrument of their choice from piano, guitar, bass guitar and drum kit. The ethos of aural learning will continue while they learn instrumental technique, and will be strongly connected to reading and writing music so that no musical skill will be left behind.