Today is International Youth Skills Day! This day focuses on “the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, further education and entrepreneurship” (UN).

Brass for Africa runs twenty-nine outreaches, and we ensure that each receives music education and life-skills training twice a week. We teach our beneficiaries 8-key life-skills in addition to their weekly music education. These are Self-Confidence, Resilience, Leadership Skills, Problem Solving, Grit & Perseverance, Concentration, Teamwork and Communication. Every month, we choose a life skill to incorporate into each music lesson. This results in transferable skills that our participants may use in their daily lives.

Since it is a life skills day, let us concentrate on life skills! Below is our participant curriculum journey that aims to create positive behaviours in students:

  • Recognition: This involves perceiving the surrounding environment to gather information about life skills and become able to understand and identify them.
  • Critical thinking: This involves brainstorming and reflecting to form an outlook and positive attitudes towards the connections between life events and life skills.
  • Demonstration: This is actively embracing life skills to creatively show good conduct that follows life skills.
  • Discovery: This involves multiplying positive outcomes into several thoughtful experiences that align with a focused disposition.
  • Ownership: This involves integrating life skills into personal expression and confidently performing tasks that embody the wisdom of life skills.
  • Inspiration: This is where a person becomes a member of the greater community and imparts life skills and wisdom to others, becoming a model citizen.

Through Brass for Africa’s curriculum, we have seen first-hand how the opportunity to play music and learn life-skills has had a profound and empowering impact on the lives of our participants. For example, those who used to be shy, can now stand in front of a big audience and perform or address their audience without fear. Nakaliyowa, beneficiary at MACI (one of our partner organisations in Uganda), says: “before joining Brass for Africa I was shy and lacked confidence. I did not understand my self-worth and did not know what I could achieve. But now, I have learnt how to believe in myself. Now, I can do what others do”.

Dorothy Nambi, Executive Director at Dorna Home For Autism in Uganda, has also seen the transformation in the lives of the children and young people since Brass for Africa began providing music and life-skills lessons there. The children who do not speak are now able to use signs to communicate. Through music, Dorothy says that “their concentration has increased and they are now able to play their instrument for longer than they used to”.

My personal favourite life skills are “grit and perseverance” and “problem-solving”. Many of our participants are passionate about music and, as we all know, there is no journey without obstacles –  it is important to keep going, no matter what. This is also where problem-solving comes in! Through music, participants are taught how to determine the cause of their problems, identify them, select alternatives for a solution and lastly implement a solution.

Resilience is an important life-skill too. Many of our participants come from extremely difficult backgrounds – some can only afford one meal a day.  But through music, they are taught to be resilient musicians ­– they travel to the Brass for Africa Centre, get out their instruments from their cases, and start playing. This process helps them forget the challenges they face at home, as they are just focusing on their music.

Every day of your life is another lesson. If you learn the lesson well and apply it, whether positive or negative, you determine what happens in your tomorrow. Happy World Youth Skills Day to you all!

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!