- Title: DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Music students get much-needed technical training
- Date: 21st August 2007
- Summary: VARIOUS OF STUDENTS PLAYING GUITARS
- Embargoed: 5th September 2007 13:00
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz,Education
- Reuters ID: LVA9C38C2TDYH7XS0E68DD9HDJ06
- Story Text: A decade ago, these students would have been busy only composing or rehearsing songs in praise of the former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. But many things in the Democratic Republic of Congo have changed since Mobutu died. One of them is that the National Institute of Arts located in the capital Kinshasa, can now focus their meagre resources on grooming the talents of its students for more than just praise singing.
But, Congo is still reeling from decades of economic mismanagement, and the music school is low on the government's list of public institutions that need rehabilitating. There are only two pianos for about 1500 students. The institute can't afford new instruments, neither does it have the know-how to repair the old ones.
Faustin lives in a poor suburb of Kinshasa and is one of the few artisans in the country who can repair musical instruments. He often has to be quite creative when it comes to spare parts for some instruments.
"I think that plastic bags are useful for using to repair saxophones, now the musician can also play under the rain, it doesn't change the notes," says Faustin.
Lucas Payron is a manager at Music Fund which is a Belgian NGO that's promoting music development in the country. Music Fund is helping the institute fix its old instruments and is training students on maintenance and repair. For the past two years, the organisation has collected used musical instruments in Belgium and shipped them to the DRC.
"We want to train about ten artisans in three years, these people will get knowledge that they will never forget and that they can pass on to other people," said Payron.
Lema Kusa is the director of the National Institute of Arts. Some of his students will be leaving for Belgium soon for a 3-month training course courtesy of Music Fund.
"The Congo is an amazing country for music but there is no workshop to repair the instruments. So Music Fund came to the Institute to start this workshop and all the old instruments in Kinshasa - and maybe in Congo will be fixed thanks to them and it is a good thing," Kusa said.
This old Steinway hadn't produced a note in years, but now that Music Fund has helped students here give it a new lease of life, maybe Congo's next hit song or composition will be created on its keys.
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