Back from my visit to Guinea, I am happy to report that, thanks to your help and the hard work of our teachers, students, administrators and support personnel, l’école fula flute is doing well. Greetings Everybody,
Back from my visit to Guinea, I am happy to report that, thanks to your help and the hard work of our teachers, students, administrators and support personnel, l’école fula flute is doing well.
We are in operation six days a week from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm when our students receive courses in basic literacy (including French, arithmetic, sciences, etc.), singing, music theory, instruments (including Malinke flute, Peul flute, ngoni, percussion and kora), theater, dance, body language and boxing. A few of them live on the premises along with supervisors and twice a day meals are prepared and served. They participate enthusiastically in class, raising their hands, volunteering to come to the blackboard, to perform, etc., this is a great group that would be the envy of many teachers back home.
Two new students joined us: Allassane 12 years old, and Ismaël 7 years old, both intelligent and talented. Unfortunately, two of them also left us so our student body now counts eleven children, which is not a lot but those who are with us are determined, faithful and aware. This year we will make a recruitment effort aiming to register six more students.
Every time I teach them, I try to present them with a different take on the subject at hand making sure to establish a link to the conceptual and the written. This year, I primarily focused on imparting to them the notion of modes, making a link between the Greek modes and the traditional pieces they know. Secondly, to advance their knowledge of the chromatic tambin (my invention) and at this point, they understand the basic positions on the complex instrument.
For the past three years Mr. Bouba Mbeng has been coming three times a week to teach percussion, ngoni (traditional stringed instrument) and singing, and has developed with our students a repertoire that, together with Mr. Mansaré's flute pieces, is the basis of our public musical performances.
Our school teacher, Mr. Mohamed Mmah Camara who has been with us for more than six years spends a half-day, four times a week with our students and teaches reading, writing, arithmetic, and general science subjects and he often draws wonderful illustrations on the blackboard. He divides the class into smaller groups to manage the different levels and submits them to regular evaluations. Thanks to a special contribution by our friends Cathy, Steph and Karine, we will soon increase the amount of time spent on these activities.
Our students also participate in theatre classes given by our co-founder, Ms. Véronique Lamah. Under her direction they create and perform plays of traditional stories, or with a social message dealing with topics such as domestic violence, forced marriage, AIDS, etc. for the community.
Our supervisor, Mr. Roger Tolno, a professional actor, gives body language classes and a new teacher, Mr. Mamady Camara, teaches French boxing.
In addition, I am pleased to announce that we have recruited my long-time friend, Mr. Seydou Tanly. Originally from Burkina Faso, he is a classically trained pianist and first-rate sound engineer who has worked with West Africa’s greatest artists in the studios of Abidjan, Ouagadougou, Bamako and Conakry. Mr. Tanly teaches music theory and supervises the use and maintenance of our electronic equipment (recorder, cameras, computer, etc.) and little-by-little, will be recording our students’ repertoire.
Thanks largely to the deep involvement in our program of Master Mamady Mansaré, the uncontested Dean of the tambin (Fula flute), our students are increasingly regarded as the future of the flute in Guinea. But, as some of you may know, there are two great tambin styles in Guinea: the Malinke style – well represented at our school by Mr. Mansaré – and the Peul style. So, for our students to understand the Guinean flute in its entirety we have recruited the Peul flutist Baba Gallé who has recently begun to share his knowledge with our children.
Twice a week, Djamady Kouyate, a son of Mbady Kouyate’s (God rests his soul) great Mandingo cora family, brings this rich instrument to our students who, passionate about traditional music, are making rapid progress under his gentle direction.
Our efforts and success generate interest among the country's intelligentsia. Indeed, a team from Cis Media came to film us and then, Mr. Momo Sylla and I were invited for an on-air interview at radio "Nostalgie". Later again, we were invited to a downtown office where a half-dozen experienced journalists representing web, radio and print publications (newspapers and magazines) asked us more very relevant questions in an intense session.
For the duration of my trip I was warmly welcomed, well treated, safely surrounded by trusted friends and family. I thank Momo, Véro, Mamady, Bouba, Roger, Naby, Abdoulaye, Fatoumata and all our students, and also Tanly, Bakou and Gambalou.
Finally, to all of you who follow our story, appreciate and support our work, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. All this would not be possible without your help. Remember we are the tree, Guinea is the soil and you are the water.
PS: We have a lot of beautiful photos and videos that we will disseminate little by little and we invite you to see them on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
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