Hearing first-hand about the ‘Firebird Residency’ – Portugal 2022

Four of our Music and Life-Skills Teachers alongside two of our Young Leaders (musicians) from Uganda were chosen to take part in the AIM (Academy for Impact through Music) “Firebird Residency” in Portugal. Here the team were joined by other talented young musicians from across the globe to live together, make music, plan, teach, learn, analyse and debate every day, whilst being accompanied by coaches and guest teachers. The residency also builds a community of peers that will provide mutual support for the teaching and learning AIM delivers.

During the monthly Brass for Africa All-Staff Day, the selected teachers (Firebirds) presented to the team what they had learned and shared some of their experiences from Portugal.

Feeding back during the All Staff Meeting

Teacher Julius, one of the ‘Firebirds’

“It was a new experience in Lisbon because we found there were a lot of people from different countries, speaking different languages and due to this, we got a lot of problems in communicating with them and we had to use more gestures, non-verbal communication and google translate for complex sentences. This made me appreciate one of our Key Attributes – communication.”

“I realised that the students in Portugal start playing instruments at the age of 3 following the curriculum and completing grades. Because of this, they were surprised by the way we could play our instruments and sight read because most of us have low experience in music, some of us have played for only 6 years.”

During the All-Star band camp,

(a monthly camp run for a selection of beneficiaries from some of our partner outreaches who come together for a weekend to play, learn new pieces and train as a high-level band),

Two of the Young Leaders who were selected for the ‘Firebird Residency’ shared their experience with the rest of the band.

Chemmy, Young Leader

“I cannot forget the piece called Danzon that challenged me to an extent that I reached out to Madam Lizzie (Director of Music Education at Brass for Africa) who told me you can do it. After listening to these words, I remembered why I was there and started playing the hard pieces. I even wondered how I was playing them.”

“I loved Portugal because of its old buildings which I have seen in movies, as well as the beach alongside the Atlantic Ocean. I also made new friends.”

Eva, Young Leader

“I made new friends and learnt many things like soloing during sectionals. At first, I feared this but a new friend of mine called Raffaello helped me along with my coach Catherine who taught me many things such as not fearing people.”

Lizzie, the Director of Music at Brass for Africa in Uganda:

“The firebirds were brilliant! The work was intense, and the teachers represented themselves very well, not showing any tiredness. One of the leaders of AIM said the Young Leaders and Firebirds from BfA were one of the highlights of the residency!”