By Eliya Simantov, EBPP Volunteer Music Programme Developer
Last week, after a few months during which I have been away, I visited Ban together with Bang (Bambang Sri Handoko), our Music Programme trainer for over a year, to see the development and review how the kids are responding to the ongoing music classes that we’ve developed over the past two and a half years. I was really excited to go up to the hamlets again, to visit the schools, and also to see the changes in this amazing project on which David Booth and the dedicated EBPP staff have been working tirelessly.
After the long drive up the difficult mountain road to Darmaji hamlet and as we dusted ourselves off and got out of the off-road vehicle, I was glad to see some of the students running our way, mischievously competing between them who will get to help carry the musical instruments and other supplies that we brought with us from the EBPP headquarters down below. The kids didn’t even let us carry the heavy sacks of rice that we brought with us for their lunch meals, and carried them on their backs happily as if they were nothing but pillows.
After the greetings and hellos and as the music classes started I was amazed to see that some of the older students are already playing guitar! Bang explained that it has been a few months since he and Nengah Edi (one of our young local EBPP music team members, who grew up in one of the hamlets of Ban) started teaching the kids how to play the guitar. It was so great to see how the kids are happy and beaming as they take turns playing, adjusting their little fingers to play the chords and melodies properly, and overjoyed when they get it right! Bang said that do to our budget constraints the Music Programme still does not have enough guitars, and expressed his wish that every EBPP school would have one guitar for the kids to practice with, between their weekly music lessons.
While Edi continued teaching the guitar lesson, Bang began teaching the music class with the younger SD (elementary school) students, playing musical games, singing, dancing, and testing them on previous songs and material they have learned in music classes earlier in the year. It was a truly wonderful experience to see the kids running and jumping around to the music and songs, laughing, dancing and having so much fun!
During the next day we went up to the EBPP school in Pengalusan, where I saw the same type of sparkle in the eyes of students who were playing the guitar slowly but surely. Bang said that Pengalusan students are especially eager to learn how to play the guitar, and are constantly asking him and the other music programme team member for more guitar lessons. He explained that some of the students have great motivation and potential to become musicians in the future, but again, he expressed his wish that we will have more guitars in the music programme, so that the students will be able to practice playing in their village, and will not have wait to play only during the music classes that take place once a week. It will be wonderful if some of our students will have a chance to pursue a career in music, and we really want to give them the opportunity and the means to study well, and develop their talents.
As we were driving back to EBPP’s mountain office in Ban, Bang and I were talking about the developments and future plans for the music programme. We also shared how great it is to see the young students participating happily in the music classes, learning quickly and being empowered by their own creative ability, and how rewarding it is for us to see the joy and confidence that it brings them. We will be more than glad to share this rewarding feeling with those who would like to support our programme, in supplying us with more funds or musical instruments. Giving these wonderful children the possibility to learn, develop, and grow like other children around the world is a crucial step in helping them step out of the cycle of poverty, and lead their mountain villages and communities to a better future.