Multikids Inclusive Academy, Accra – Ghana

 

I have been invited to visit an inclusive school in Accra this winter, called Multikids Inclusive Academy   I’m really excited about the prospect. The school is run by  Amanda Budge, a teacher and a musician I knew many years ago. As soon as I get there I will check out where to find materials to make instruments from and get to know the children and staff; so I can find out how my skills can best be put to use.

One week here in Accra

Will outside Multikids Inclusive Academy

Will outside Multikids Inclusive Academy

One week since I arrived in Accra and my instrument making mission is moving forward at the Multikids Inclusive Academy. This school is inclusive and there are some students studying for A levels and others with complex problems who will always struggle to read, write and communicate easily.

I spent the first few days observing the many different classes and getting to know the children and teachers. We made straw oboes with a few of the KS1 classes, many of the kids managed to play them straight away.

I was taken on a shopping trip yesterday to buy essential tools and basic materials for making instruments for the school. We went to the central market area where you can buy anything and everything and the streets are jam packed with walking vendors carrying all sorts on their heads and “pavement shops” too. I nearly got tipped into the open sewers by a car passing too close once!

We found a massive old damaged hardwood beam, that will be made into a big xylophone by some of the secondary students, and took it to a woodworking machine workshop where they will turn it into planks for the keys.

In the meantime I have been dismantling and old broken table, that the school was intending to chuck out, to make another xylophone. A plastic goal that was broken will become a batonka or  boom-bams.

Broken Table will be used for xylophone keys

Broken Table will be used for xylophone keys

Broken Goal will be a batonka

Broken Goal will be a batonka

Also I have been invited to play at two gigs this weekend by Jimmy, one of the school’s fantastic music teachers. So I feel that I have landed on my feet here and my life has begun here in the fast lane.

 Early in the Week 2
Amanda suggested that I work with 2 classes of pupils on the ASDAN programme. We now have timetabled regular sessions for me with these classes. We have cleared up a garage / storeroom for me to use as a workshop.  And on Monday 2nd February class SA4 started making a pentatonic xylophone from the broken table frame. SA3 started on a diatonic xylophone on Wednesday. Some of these students have very little experience of using tools like a saw or a file, and expressed fear of using them. But with help were successful and keen to do more.

On Thursday I was honoured to play with Nii Noi Nortey and Nii Otoo Annan at the Children’s school at Accra Psychiatric Hospital. We were joined by the Master puppeteer J C Abbey. The American film maker Steve Feld was there too with his friend and flautist Alex. I admire these musicians who have an ongoing commitment to these Thursday sessions.

Last Week in Accra

There has been lots happening in the last few weeks and I got so involved in the school and it’s
activities I found it hard to keep up with this blog!
I went with some classes on a visit to Trashy Bags – a community initiative where they make all
sorts of wonderful items from used plastic bags, mainly the small sacks of water that are sold on the street. They made hand bags, market bags, pencil cases, wallets and much more. I also attended a First Aid training session for secondary students. This was a good reminder for me, and I was impressed with the interest  that the secondary students displayed.
I am having to wind things up this week. The instruments that the students have made have been complemented widely by the staff. We have started playing them introducing 3 simple musical games. Playing duets initially
1 Taking turns copying rhythms .
2 Call and answer.
3 Jamming – In which Player A holds a repeated figure. When this is well established player B joins in and can experiment and improvise. When player B joins finishes improvising they join in with the figure player A is playing. Then Player A can improvise.

With all these games the number of players can be increased when the players are successful in pairs. Or an under-confident player can be twinned with a more confident player standing opposite to help hold a pattern. I encourage them to make eye contact while playing to help communication.

Malya filing

Marking the key with a set square.

Marking the key with a set square.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merita and Jimmy with SA4 Xylophone

Checking the first octave of the pentatonic xylophone made by the students in SA4 class

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Sound Table

I have nearly completed this Sound Table. Using blue painted parts from a broken school desk. A book storage rack is amplified by the table when strummed by a beater, and the blue steel leg framework make lots of interesting high pitch sounds. Two long door springs add resonance or reverb to all the sounds and if scrapped make impressive noises. The nine nails of various lengths are another scrapper. Three bamboo keys are tuned to a minor chord and the bamboo tongues provide bass kalimba notes when plucked.
Bamboo is plentiful here and I wish that I had spent more time exploring its musical properties in my time here. It is definitely an area of my practice I want to develop in the future.

SA4 students playing the Sound Table with the pentatonic xylophone.

 

 

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Playing the pentatonic xylophone

Playing the pentatonic xylophone

Playing a duet

Playing a duet

 

Pupils from SA4 play the pentatonic xylophone made from broken table frames.

A teacher and student have a conversation on the diatonic xylophone that SA3 made.

Pentatonic xylophone donated to the school at the Psychiatric Hospital Accra

Pentatonic xylophone donated to the school at the Psychiatric Hospital Accra

On my last Thursday visit to the school at the Psychiatric Hospital, Accra. We donated a pentatonic xylophone. Some pupils were very engaged with it and took any opportunity to join in the music session on it.

 

2 thoughts on “Multikids Inclusive Academy, Accra – Ghana

  1. Mandy Budge

    Will did some amazing work with our kids. I really liked the way that he took our learners, many of whom have learning challenges, through the process of making a xylophone step by step. This included finding the wood around the place. I was fascinated by the way the kids focused one on one with Will to achieve two beautiful instruments. Both were pitched – one diatonic and one pentatatonic. Tribute to the success of this artists residency was heard in the beautiful pieces performed by Will and the students. I recommend this residency for any school interested in recycling remaking music innovation creativity skill building. ✨✨✨✨

    Reply
  2. Christopher Klove

    As much as I appreciate music I don’t know much about musical instruments so am not going to pretend I do… but for someone to turn broken table legs and pipes into musical instruments like Will did with my students here in Ghana, I think he deserves recommendation. Will guided a group of students here in Multikids Inclusive Academy to create musical instruments from broken stuffs. This is recycling and this is the kind of innovation we need to keep the world a better place not a garbage land.

    Reply

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