Four of our Music and Life-Skills Teachers and two of our beneficiaries from Uganda have been selected to take part in the Academy for Impact Through Music “Firebird Residency” in Portugal this summer, alongside talented young musicians from across the globe!

I had the chance to interview Andrew Agassi, Brass for Africa’s Uganda Country Director, to learn more about Brass for Africa’s new partnership with AIM and the Hilti Foundation.

Q1. How would you describe Brass for Africa’s partnership with the Academy for Impact through Music (AIM)?

Answer: AIM stands for “Academy for Impact through Music” – a global innovation program initiated by the Hilti Foundation. It seeks to “enrich the global field of music for social action by combining expert knowledge to increase quality, opportunity and social impact that empowers children and young people.” (AIM)

And this is about the same thing that Brass for Africa does! We use music to transform lives and provide wonderful opportunities for children and young people to learn, grow and thrive. And so, it is fantastic to be able to collaborate with an organisation that has similar goals, values and objectives. Together we are stronger!

Q2. Is it just Brass for Africa taking part of are there any other organisations involved in this project?

Answer: Good question! AIM partners with several global organisations tackling social inequality through music education. Brass for Africa has been selected as one of the partners, alongside other world-renowned organisations including Sinfonía por el Perú, Barrios Orquestados, NEOJIBA, Iberacademy, Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía and The Paterson Music Project.

Q3. And how exactly is Brass for Africa going to get involved?

Answer: At the heart of AIM sits the “Firebird Fellowship” which Brass for Africa is thrilled to be a part of! This year, 4 Music and Life-Skills Teachers from Brass for Africa have been selected as “2022 Firebirds”. Over the past year, they have been receiving extensive training and workshops. This month, they will be travelling abroad to take part in a 2-week “Firebird Residency” in Portugal with young musicians from across the globe!

What’s also very exciting is that for the first time in the history of Brass for Africa, 2 of our young beneficiaries from Kawempe Youth Centre and Kalangala will also be travelling to Portugal to take part in the Residency alongside their peers.

Q4. Wow! Who is taking part in this opportunity?

Answer: So our 4 Music and Life-Skills Teachers taking part are Mouris, Julius, Tonny and Micheal. The two children taking part are Eva and Chemmy.

Eva comes from the Ssese Islands – a remote island in Lake Victoria (Uganda). Before joining Brass for Africa she had never travelled or left the Island. Chemmy is from Kawempe, one of Kampala’s impoverished informal settlements. For both of them, it will be their first-time leaving Uganda and travelling on a plane.

So, the experience is very rewarding, and that is what we are all about as Brass for Africa! We believe in the power of music to transform lives, and to empower individuals to pursue their passion for music.

Q5. What does this partnership mean to Brass for Africa’s future plans?

Answer: Well, as an organisation that is creating brighter futures, we create opportunities for just under 2000 children and young people across Uganda, Rwanda and Liberia. This includes children from orphanages, rehabilitation centres, juvenile detention centres, hospitals and so-forth.

One of the four key-pillars of Brass for Africa’s Strategy is ‘Workforce Readiness’. Our partnership with AIM allows us, as an organisation, to learn from others, and it opens our eyes to opportunities that exist.

And so, the way I see this partnership working is that it starts with the group of four, who will gain skills, develop knowledge and whose mindsets will change. We know that those 4 will then influence and support their students and their peers, and those will then influence thousands of beneficiaries that we work with. And so the impact goes on.

We are very proud of this partnership with AIM and the Hilti Foundation, and we’re looking forward to seeing what our teachers and beneficiaries will learn, experience and share. This exposure will be a huge benefit not only for our young leaders taking part but also for their community at large, who will be able to learn and grow.

“We are very excited about this tour because we are going to make new friends, learn new music and see the Atlantic Ocean which we have never gotten a chance to see physically. Thank you, Brass for Africa & AIM for this opportunity!” said Chemmy and Eva.

Author: Aisha Nassaazi. Aisha is one of the beneficiaries of our partnership with GLONEVA – a locally-led organisation based in the informal settlement of Namuwongo, Kampala. She is also a member of the Brass for Africa All-Stars Band and is currently a student at the African Institute of Music. During her summer break, Aisha is supporting Brass for Africa in collecting stories from the field and writing articles to share with our global audience!