The Living Music Foundation Trip to Jos, Nigeria: Gospel Music Retreat

If you’ve been wondering why you haven’t heard from us in awhile, it may be because we were planning our trip to Nigeria in September. Now that we have returned, we are excited to share the experience with you!

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Background of the Trip

The Vessels Band was hired to perform a praise and worship service during the Visit of Archbishop Dr. Benjamin Kwashi and Rev. Can. Rinji Kwashi to Bishop Stuart University in Mbarara Uganda in 2016. After several performances, Disan Kato and Rev. Can. Rinji Kwashi connected because of their common interest and passion for live music and performance. They made promises to keep in touch for future music programs together.

Through several after that first meeting, they kept each other updated of their progress. When Rinji had a complex live recording studio established in Jos, Nigeria, he asked Disan to come and combine their efforts and skills for a music project. This led to the Gospel Music Retreat between The Vessels band and Argark Gospel Music (AGM)!

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Preparation

The Vessels band started the necessary preparations to fundraise for the travel tickets and visas to Nigeria. Members had to acquire passports, yellow fever vaccination cards, and visas.

The band’s fans and friends came to support them financially and all the other necessary advice. However, only four members were able to represent the band for the trip.

Reception in Jos, Nigeria

Upon arrival at the airport in Abuja, we were welcomed by our coordinator Mr. Adamu Moses who is a kind, smiling, and hardworking man. He was there together with his friend L.P. They made sure to take care of us since our team was tired from the extensive travel.

It was a very nice experience of two different weather conditions—from very hot temperatures of Abuja, to the cold temperatures of Jos. The team was driven to our hotel, where we ate dinner and rested.

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The AGM team made sure that we had meals when needed, were transported/driven to our destinations, and they did everything possible to explain and make the trip comfortable for us.

During the next day, the team was shown around to many places in the city of Jos, especially to some projects of the Anglican diocese of Jos.

The areas we visited included:

1. The Christian Institute.

Here our team visited the principal’s office and had a very good chat with him about the very many activities at the institute. We met the students who are in theology training, and other staff members of the institute.

During the tour at the institute, our team entered a very wonderful and magnificent chapel. It was the best place at the institute, meaning that God is the first and most important priority there.

2. The Printing Press.

This is one other place that captured the attention of our team. This is where much of the diocesan work of printing is done—including print magazines for diocese, schools, church programs, posters, cards, books, and book-covers for the schools.

The interesting part is that the leftovers of the papers are sold out to make toilet tissue. No waste!

Another interesting aspect here is that the youth of the diocese are the ones doing the work. They are the ones designing, typing, operating machines for color separation, and printing. All of this is done under the supervision of a youthful ordained Rev. with the training in the field of that project who also is also the pastor of a church.

3. St Johns Secondary School

This school is very nice and interesting. Here we were welcomed by the principal/head teacher of the school who made us visit other offices of the school and later the students of Senior three (finalists) with whom we had a great chat in their smart classroom.

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The Music Recording project

The first three days at the Studio were spent as familiarization of the project songs. We taught the AGM team the music to be recorded and performed.

Recording kicked off on the fourth day, having musicians and singers from both teams playing and recording different parts of the music. This was be done day and night. On some days, both teams had to sleep in the studio because there was so much work to do.

We were challenged by the live recordings since we are not used to the process. This resulted in us having to repeat many parts of a single song which took up time that we could have been working on other songs. This made the project long and tiresome, but we learned a lot and hope to continue to learning more.

Other excursions.

 Radio talk show
 Attending church service at St. Christopher’s
 Visiting the Markets
 Taking Rides around town in the Napep Tricycles
 Walking and visiting families and community school established by Wife to Archbishop Kwashi.

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Observations & Experiences

1. The church in the Diocese of Jos is vibrant because it has youthful, energetic, faithful, committed, and well mentored pastors and leaders who work hard to balance the church service for all groups and classes of people.

2. We witnessed many talented individuals in the church as part of the ministry. They were working hard to professionalize their skills through trainings to benefit of the individual and the community.

Here we saw:

 Youth of art and design working at the printing press
 Youth making shoes and having their own workshops
 Girls baking cakes and participating in ministry with the pastors
 Radio presenters and DJs in the radio stations
 Camera personnel and Videographers with their own media companies.

In addition to these tasks, these individuals are also trained teachers, nurses, engineers, etc.

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3. Youth are trained in very many areas so that they can do more than one thing. For example, a reverend does ministry, but is a professional bass player in the studio, a driver, a computer engineer, and also manages a certain business. We were challenged by how they find time to do all these things.

4. Musically, these individuals take care in the quality of music produced. They don’t take just anything. They care about their voices, their health, the equipment, and continuous training for the musicians.

They go by a statement that “Every day, everywhere, and to every person you meet in music, you are at zero. Go be ready to learn something new to improve your music.”

5. Commitment. These guys love what they do and are committed to have it done well by putting in their best.

A Trip to Remember!

It was a wonderful trip for the Vessels Band and the AGM of Nigeria. We both got our lessons and hoped for the best of work. We look forward to a continued fruitful relationship between Uganda and Nigeria, especially Ankole and Jos. We also hope for more exchange programs in future!

 

Our Growing Community: Biharwe

Our New Students From Biharwe

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Leading Biharwe: Reverend Elmonse

Reverend Elmonse has been looking for an opportunity to learn more about musical instruments for a long time. He has always hoped to use his own skills to help train the youth in his community, but he has not had an easy time finding instrumentalists. He’s been doing his best using his own guitar to teach youth how to play, but has had a hard time keeping it in playing shape. Luckily, he had some help from a few British visitors in the past, who gifted him guitar strings so he can keep playing and teaching.

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Enter Living Music Foundation — just what he has been looking for! Reverend Elmonse is excited for the opportunity to help his students learn so they can play together and create beautiful music through the help of Living Music Foundation’s trainers.

Since being introduced to the Living Music Foundation team, Reverend Elmonse has been vital in mobilizing youth in Biharwe. He has gathered a group of students that are ready and excited to learn, including all of the students pictured above. He has also enrolled himself in guitar lessons, alongside his son Ian, who is having drumming lessons.

We are excited that he has been so willing to be part of the Living Music Foundation efforts, and can’t wait to see our relationship grow!

 

St. Peter’s Kakoba Church of Uganda

Getting to Know the Parishoners

We excitedly received a letter from St. Peter’s Kakoba Church of Uganda formally asking us to participate in the evening church and worship services. The night had a theme of “being a youth of good example.” We knew this would be a great opportunity to meet and connect with  more community members, so we were honored to accept the opportunity!

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The Services

We were excited to attend such a beautiful church service; it truly was a special experience. After the church service came the worship session. Choirs from several churches around Mbarara gathered together to praise and worship as one community. Everyone felt so connected through our united worship.

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Disan, Living Music Foundation’s director, was invited to lead the services by being the guest preacher and chief worshiper. We are proud that he is able to connect us with so many different parts of our community so we can have opportunities such as this one.

The entire Living Music Foundation team participated in the services, so we had the opportunity to inform the other choirs of our own services related to singing and instrumental lessons. The community was excited to hear of the work we are doing.

The whole day was a lovely experience!

Making Connections in Biharwe & Besania

Exploring New Communities

Biharwe

On April 12th, 2018, Disan, the director of Living Music Foundation (LMF), and Babra, the administrator of LMF, went to Katojo – Biharwe in Mbarara District of Uganda by motorcycle to meet with some youth who wish to learn more about musical instruments and how to sing. When they arrived, they found the students gathered at Katojo Technical Institute in one of the classrooms.

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Journey to the village

The session began with introductions from the LMF staff members to the students. Babra addressed the students by talking about Living Music Foundation, the work that the organization is currently doing, and then she encouraged them to be open to exploring their own musical talents. LMF believes that everyone can be surprised by themselves when exploring their own musical talents and have fun with the process. Babra then invited Disan to address the class.

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Disan and Barbara all smiles while riding to the village

Disan started by thanking Reverend Elimonth for his work in mobilizing and gathering the youth together; he has been a pivotal leader for music lessons in the community. The students were inspired by what Disan had to say about the impact music can have on your life. They were all so excited to meet Disan and for him to share his talents, because they listen to his music and watch him on TV sometimes.

Then came the time for what everyone was most excited about…music lessons!

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Disan talking with the members of the community in Biharwe

Besania

On April 18th, 2018, the group decided to visit the office at Besania to talk to them more about LMF. It was a great afternoon! The Vessels Band was there to take the office members through the machines and singing at the grounds. After this, they became more excited about continuing to work with LMF.

They even decided to come and train at the center for the first month, so the LMF team will work with them to accommodate their future trainings. The first musical training is expected to officially begin on April 20th.

Based on the relationships that have already formed and the excitement of the students to learn, it feels like the lessons have already started!