Tonny is an Apprentice Teacher at Brass for Africa. Tonny became a Brass for Africa beneficiary when he joined our partner organisation, Brussels Brass Band in Kawempe, a large impoverished settlement in Kampala. Kawempe is a tough place to live, with the majority of the population living on under £1 a day (Ugandan Bureau of Statistics) and where societal problems include mob justice, drug addiction, prostitution and crime.
Tonny plays the Bb flat tuba, and in 2019 was selected for our Future Talent Programme as a Student Volunteer. His seven brothers, three sisters, and father all take part in our other programme with Kawempe Youth Centre twice a week. When Uganda went into a second national lockdown in June, the Brass for Africa teachers had to continue their playing and studies at home remotely, as they were not allowed to come to the Centre due to government regulations. Because of its size, Tonny was not able to bring his tuba back home. So instead, he had the opportunity to learn euphonium. In a recent interview, he explains his experience of the lockdown e-learning:
“One of the main challenges was the connection; it would dip in and out and it would sometimes be difficult to understand what Madame Lizzie (Director of Music Education) or Madame Maria (Life-Skills Officer) were saying. But from this, my concentration levels have improved as well as my communication skills. I had to pay attention and listen carefully and always focus on what was being said. Even though sometimes I would not catch the whole lesson because of the network, I was improving crucial skills.”
Considering Tonny’s ardent passion for the Tuba, he thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of taking home a new instrument:
“If it was not for the lockdown, I would not have learnt these new skills, and I would not know how to play the euphonium. Despite being resistant at first because I love my tuba, I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn a new instrument. Now, when I teach my students who play, I will be able to help them more and be better. I am now able to play solos on the euphonium, which I would never have been able to do before.”
All materials, such as books, stands, and music pieces, were distributed to the Brass for Africa teachers’ homes so that they could practice properly during this time. Tonny comes from a family of musicians, and so he has been able to share these materials with them:
“I was giving my siblings and Dad assignments to do, and we were all able to learn together. My brother Linus also plays the euphonium so it was great to practice with him. Brass for Africa supported us all in this time by providing these materials. It really helped!”
Tonny took many positives from his lockdown, but he also shared that:
“I was so excited when I heard the news of returning to the Brass for Africa Centre. Once you step in there, everything changes and it becomes much easier. Your friends are there and you can consult each other. Being back with friends at the Centre is a great feeling.”
Well done Tonny for turning a challenging situation into a positive learning experience! TOPOWA!