Malawi Music Project Camp

  • Education
  • Women & Gender
  • Malawi
This project is led by Alyssa Ferguson, a Volunteer from Colorado

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Malawi Music Project (MMP) is a collaboration, which began in 2008, between The United States Peace Corps and Malawi Music Crossroad. Peace Corps provides Volunteers who help with the planning, fundraising, teaching, and capacity building surrounding the event while Music Crossroads Malawi provides their school grounds, professional teachers, instruments, and deep running connections with the communities across Malawi from which we draw our participants, funds, lecturers, and well known musicians from. MMP brings 15 adolescents from Music Crossroads Academy and 15 adolescents from rural communities across Malawi together for week long camp focused on social issues in Malawi such as HIV/AIDS awareness, gender equality/empowerment, and climate change. Participants also attend lessons on the history of Malawian music, traditional song/dance, songwriting, music structure, music theory, stage presence, equipment care, and music entrepreneurship. The students are put into bands and asked to arrange an original song with a message related to the social issues presented during the camp. At the conclusion of the camp, bands are given the opportunity to record their respective tracks in a professional studio and compete in a battle of the bands competition where they perform their songs for their peers, teachers, media outlets, and most importantly the community. Participants will leave Malawi Music Project equipped with the knowledge to spread messages of social change in their communities using their increased musical training and understanding various social issues in Malawi such as girl child empowerment. Upon returning to their respective home villages participants will continue to actively engage their communities in teaching others about the importance of empowering the girl child in all aspects of daily life. This fusion of social issues and musical creativity is truly a unique and engaging avenue to bring about change across Malawi.

The success of this project is due in large part to the continuous community involvement and support. Music Crossroads is currently contributing all of the instruments, all of the music technology needed, studio time, teachers, transport to and from the lodge, and counselors. They will provide five counselors and six teachers as well as some of the participants. This is a significant financial contribution and they have also contributed much of the logistical support learned from past years’ experience. This project absolutely could not happen at the capacity that it has in past years without such a large contribution from Music Crossroads. Local musicians also contribute to Malawi Music Project by providing participants with guidance, motivation, and inspiration towards becoming professional musicians while bringing about social change in Malawi. In addition, this year Music Crossroads is making a significant effort to raise funds for the camp on their own to reduce financial dependency on Peace Corps Volunteer's grant writing. Attendees are also identified by Peace Corps volunteers in rural villages who would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend projects of this nature. Many of these attendees are youth that have adopted the Malawi Music Project model and have started youth groups and music groups in their communities.

The fine arts have continuously played a key role in influencing Malawian culture. Malawi Music Project utilizes musical expression as a vehicle to distribute key information on girl child empowerment education. A written test that participants take on the first and last day of the project will be prepared to evaluate the progress and retention rate of participants knowledge on gender inequality and disparity in the culture at large. Participants will then use the fine arts as a vehicle to distribute this information throughout their communities, increasing both the effectiveness and magnitude of this program. Songs from previous years camps as well as those composed by past participants, recorded in their own communities, have been complied to provide participants with a catalog of music with a message to take back to their communities and from which they can continue to build upon. In addition feedback provided from PCV’s who work in the communities that attendees live, will provide immediate feedback about the impact Malawi Music Project has made. This feedback will be compiled into a report that will document the MMP inspired activities happening throughout the country to help with future projects and to provide documentation for interested donors. The continued partnership between Peace Corps Malawi and the motivated local arts community will also continue to promote the sustainability of the project.

Year by year we have expanded our network throughout local communities in all three regions and have expanded both the technical and financial support for the project. This year in particular we have begun having Music Crossroads Malawi share more of the fundraising responsibilities by encouraging them to network with organizations and well wishers in the community to diversify our fundraising portfolio. The issue of financial sustainability will also be addressed through joint meetings held with Music Crossroads. PCV’s will share their knowledge on fund-raising techniques and provide Music Crossroads with new avenues to raise funds for this year's and future Malawi Music Projects. Every student that is accepted to attend the camp must write an action plan on how they are planning to bring back what they have learned to their community. Many students give presentations or talks to their fellow students at an assembly or during their prospective clubs. Some students even start their own music clubs at their schools and youth centers. Some students have even gone on to attend Music Crossroads Academy after finishing the program.

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