Mirpur Music Program

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Since January 2015, the Playing For Change Foundation has been working in the slums of Mirpur District of Dhaka, Bangladesh, to provide music education to underprivileged children. In this district, 32% of residents live below the national poverty line of $2 per day and child malnutrition rates are 48%.  Illiteracy rates are among the highest in the world.
Free and adapted music classes and music performances are being integrated into the curriculum of several existing education centers which are locally run by our program partner SpaandanB. The organization sprouted from the vision of a handful of expatriate Bangladeshi in 1998, and it is dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged people in Bangladesh. SpaandanB initiates and implements projects in the area of establishment of education, remedy for health needs, and promotion of sustained subsistence.
Approximately 500 children aged 5 to 12 years are served.  Two talented teachers are providing nearly 100 hours of music instruction each month. 
Children are being taught musicalization, rhythm exercises and songs, and will have the opportunity to perform in their community and participate in workshops conducted by visiting musicians. In addition to music instruction, interdisciplinary work will be introduced using music to help students improve vocabulary, reading and pronunciation.


  • Introducing the Mirpur Music Program




Help a teacher to move easily in the area.

Bicycle for a music teacher in Mirpur


Classical Guitar

Provide a medium-high quality guitar for a music teacher

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Aug 31, 2015

Discover The Mirpur Music Program in Bangladesh

by PFC Foundation

We are thrilled to announce the official launch of the Mirpur Music program, in Dakha Bangladesh, who provides music education to 500 children. Lead by our two teachers Tuhin and Rakib the program is developed across several elementary and primary schools in the area of Mirpur through a partnership with local NPO SpaandanB.



Mirpur is an area located in the North East of Dhaka that counts over 1 million inhabitants. If Mirpur has a lot of slums and poor area,and is also where the Grameen Bank ( Nobel Prize Mohammad Yunu's microfinance organization) has its headquarters.


  • Introduction to Music, rhythm and melody

    Elementary music classes destined to kids between 5 and 12 years old   provide an initiation to music for young kids in order to prepare them to be able to sing and practice a musical instrument. Rythm exercices, clapping in time, counting, basic...

    … more

  • Tuhin Asad

    Tuhin Asad is a singer and guitarist from Mirpur dedicated to helping his community through the power of music

  • Rakib Rakib Chowdhury

    Rakib is a keyboard player who lives in Mirpur and has been playing and teaching music in several environments across Dahka, capital of Bangladesh

Khlong Toey Music Program

Bangkok, Thailand

After seeing PFC's "Stand By Me" video on YouTube in 2008, musicians Aom Amm and Gigi Nemrod were deeply inspired. Little did they know that simply viewing a video would soon change their lives in a profound way. Upon further investigation they read about the efforts of the foundation and from that moment on decided to model the same principles and initiate a music program for disadvantaged Thai children. The Khlong Toey Music program was founded in August 2012.

This is not just a music program, but a vital mission that helps build self-esteem and hope in young people, providing a sense of family and belonging for kids who might otherwise be on the street and vulnerable to the negative influences of drugs, gangs, and other harsh realities of daily life in the slum. Aom, Gigi and five teachers volunteer their time for the benefit of the Thai students. Most of the program's music instruments were contributed by generous supporters.

Thanks to the efforts of program founders, Gigi and Aom, the Khlong Toey Music Program has a home. A rented building in the Khlong Toey slum has been transformed into a vibrant music school by teachers, volunteers and students who painted the walls and contributed their own art to make it their own. The students now have a safe place to learn music, dance and enjoy being children.

Click here for more photos from the Khong Toey program on Flickr!



Repairs two instruments

Repairs two instruments

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Sep 02, 2015

PLAYING FOR NEPAL - ONE ACT OF KINDNESS: a Benefit Concert in Thailand

by William Aura

I have never experienced an event where there was so much deep concern for their fellow man. It’s still sharp in my mind that as our dear Thai friend Atom spoke to the crowd about the heartbreaking conditions in Nepal - he openly wept.


This notorious area in south Bangkok is home to about 100,000 people. People at Khlong Toey face many problems typical of a slum area. The vicious cycle of poverty also makes it hard to break from engaging in criminal activity as well as drug and alcohol dependence. With such social and financial problems, the children are often prevented from receiving a proper education.


  • Géraldine "Gigi" Nemrod, Co-Founder

    After volunteering in Thailand for 6 months, French teacher and musician Gigi started her own project, Lullabies for Thailand, which combined her love for music with her desire to help others. When she heard about PFC, it all became clear: she wanted to create opportunities for underprivileged children to learn music in Bangkok.

  • Aom Amm, Co-Founder

    A native of Thailand, Aom met Gigi while organizing a PFC Day event in September 2011. The two women decided to combine efforts and began collecting donated instruments and recruiting volunteer music teachers to provide music instruction and a safe environment for the many vulnerable children in the Khlong Toey slum.

  • Julia

    Julia is a high school student at Bangkok Patana School. Her love for music stemmed from the moment she was able to sing along with a tune. At the age of 4, she attended her very first piano lesson. She teaches singing at KTMP, and would also be able to teach piano/keyboard, flute, ukulele and guitar if needed.

  • Jo

    Jo is currently studying Music at Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, specializing in drum set and percussions and teaches drums at KTMP. He started playing when he was 13 years old. He loves music, as he feels happy when he plays. He believes music is like a very special science.

  • Aum

    Aum started to learn music when he was 12 years old. He graduated from Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat university (Bangkok), with a major in Music, Guitar Jazz. Music is a religion for him, it’s like a place where the mind can find peace. Today he is a music teacher for KPN Music Academy.

  • Kristie

    Kristie is a high school student at Bangkok Patana School and teaches piano at KTMP. She started learning the piano at the age of 7, and has been taught by ear. Only after several years she learnt music theory properly. With this in mind, she seeks to teach the students at KTMP piano while integrating written music into lessons.

  • Heart

    Heart started playing music at the age of 9. At the age of 14, he saw a picture of the king playing saxophone so he decided to switch from drums to saxophone. He started to feel that music had a deeper meaning than what he previously thought. He now studies and teaches keyboard, guitar, base, and singing at KTMP.

  • Mun Ling

    Mun Ling is a high school student at Bangkok Patana School and teaches singing at KTMP. At a very young age, her appreciation for music grew when she saw amazing musicians at concerts. She always aspired to be one of them. Now that she is 16, she learns to realize the power that music can bring to the world.

  • Melaney

    Melaney is a high school student at Bangkok Patana School and teaches piano at KTMP. She started playing piano at the age of four and is still playing extensively today in concerts as a solo performer and an accompanist. She says: “the journey of learning music is one that I treasure and want to share with others (...).”

  • Tita

    Tita is a high school student at Bangkok Patana School and teaches flute at the Khlong Toey Music Program. Her relationship with music began when she took up the piano at the age of 6. She says: “(...) It is a great honour to be a teacher at the Khlong Toey Music Program and support the Play for Change foundation.”

Tintale Village Mother’s Society

Tintale Village, Nepal

This collective of powerful women utilize artistic expression to teach young girls about the perils they face from dark-hearted traffickers. Locals tell us all too many villagers are surprisingly unaware of this tragedy in their midst. Through creative storytelling and mesmerizing song and dance, the audience is introduced to trafficker’s techniques enabling them to recognize the potential threat when introduced to their village. “There is no question this basic education saves lives,” one member states firmly.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report most occurrences happen right here in the southeastern Terai region. Young girls and women are easily trafficked because of their low cultural status. It is estimated that 10,000 girls, between the ages of 9-16, are trafficked each year from Nepal to India. This group is deeply committed to saving children from this tragic fate through education. PFCF’s support enables them to make costumes for the performance as well as provide travel expenses to neighboring villages to help spread the word.

Photos of the Tintale Village Mother's Society

  • The Mother's Society travels the region to introduce issues of human trafficking, gender equality, and women’s rights.

  • The Mother's Society in Tintale, Nepal, uses music to educate and protect young women.

  • The Players for Change use drama, dance and music to teach others about the perils of the trafficking of young girls. 

  • Tintale Village Mother's Society: 2012



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May 06, 2015


by William Aura

The women in the Mother’s Society in Tintale Village have banded together to protect the rights of women and girls in Nepal. In the short film TO BRING THE CHANGE, PFCF administrator Shyam Basnet discusses a number of the challenges women and girls face each day. Dedicated members of the Mother’s Society travel the region to introduce issues of human trafficking, gender equality, and women’s rights with a focus on social justice - through the creative use of song, dance and dramatic reenactments. They are working towards social and economic empowerment of women and children. Because of this vital effort, many women in the region are now capable of raising their voice, more girls are attending school, and women are becoming more independent economically.


In the remote villages in the Udayapur District of eastern Nepal, drama, song, dance, and music are being used to teach communities about the tricks human traffickers use to lure young women into the slave trade. The risks they address are real—each year more than 10,000 Nepali girls are stolen or sold to work in brothels in India. As a result of their performances, false promises of work, marriage and a better life made by traffickers are now recognized as a deceitful trap that can strip young girls of their freedom and future. Equally encouraging, the men of Tintale village fully support the project and have joined with their wives and daughters to help protect them and spread the word.

  • Information About Trafficking in the Area

    Members of the Women’s group are being further educated regarding the latest trafficking techniques perpetrated in the Terai region. The kind folks at Maiti Nepal have graciously provided printed materials for the Mother’s Society. Information...

    … more

  • Devi Basnet Teaches about Trafficking

    Group leader Devi Basnet is constantly updating the Mother’s Society supporters with the latest information regarding women’s issues. Besides the obvious concern regarding trafficking, Devi goes on to address numerous women’s rights issues including gender-based discrimination and sexual abuse.

Musica Music Institute

Patan, Lalitpur District, Nepal

Click here for information on PFCF"s earthquake relief efforts and learn how you can help. 100% of your gift will provide direct support for PFCF students and teachers in Nepal. 

The music program that began in Hari Kul's humble drum shop in Lalitpur has expanded into the newly-founded Musica Music Institute. The new, expanded program, established by brothers Dinesh and Mahesh Nakarmi (pictured left), has access to computers, the ability to introduce recording classes and will hold more public performances so the students can showcase what they’ve learned.

The program in Laliptur District, Nepal is lead by seven talented teachers, including former Hari Kul student, Lama Maya, and over forty students attending music classes in vocals, keyboard, guitar and drums. Hari will continue to be involved in the program as a mentor and lead workshops with the students.

The Musica Music Institute is already establishing itself as a source of inspiration and creative expression for Nepali youth. We’re excited about the new possibilities this program will bring.

A great example of the impact this program is already having on its students is the talented Anu. Anu (pictured right) has been participating in the program over the past year and is already developing a strong stage presence combined with a powerful voice. She took center stage during the 2014 PFC Day concert in Laliptur and made a significant impression on her local community.

Stay tuned! We'll be sharing more from Anu, her fellow students and teachers over the coming weeks and months.



  • Meet the students and teachers of the Hari Kul school in Lalitpur, Nepal

  • For years, Hari Kul has taken in children who have no means of support, and freely teaches them music. 



Madal drum

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May 28, 2015



There have been many long and fear-filled days and nights since the earthquake and aftershocks devastated Nepal in early April. We have been in constant communication with our music teachers and friends on the ground, and there is much love to be found.
To both encourage and support our PFCF Musica family in Nepal, we want to raise $7,500 in the next several weeks so that our Asia Programs Coordinator, William Aura, will have as many resources as possible for the people when he travels to Nepal in the coming days…


Lalitpur sub-metropolitan city, popularly known as Patan, is one of the most vibrant cities of Nepal. It is located 5 kilometers south-east of Kathmandu and its urban history dating back to as far as 2300 years. Lalitpur is simple, but full of tourists during the high season. The daily life in the city can be busy and bustling most days, with customers visiting the many local shops and families either taking their children to school or joining for prayer at a temple in the famous and beautiful, Patan Dubar Square.

The city is also renowned the world over for its traditional Nepali art and craftsmanship, and has been home to a number of famous artists and master craftsmen that produce beautiful thangka paintings, jewelry, and metalworks, to name a few.

  • Vocals

    Expression through the use of the human voice is very important in Nepalese culture. Our music students are learning western-style singing, Nepali folksongs and traditional music.

    … more

  • Keyboard

    Former student, now instructor Lama Maya teaches keyboards and basic notation to the students. There's also harmonium as well as modern-day keyboards.

    … more

  • Guitar

    The guitar, a common instrument in the west was somewhat foreign to the youth at our program in Nepal. After instruction and some practice, several Musica students were able to pick up on the string instrument almost instantly, a pleasant surprise...

    … more

  • Drums

    The students at Musica are learning to play on a standard drum kit consisting of a snare drum, bass (or kick) drum, tom-tom drums, a hi-hat and cymbals.

    … more

  • Dinesh and Mahesh Nakarmi

    Dinesh & Mahesh are deeply grateful to be a part of the Playing for Change family. We are inspired by their gentleness and grace. You will be hearing a lot more about them and the extraordinary students that come together to form a most dynamic program in Lalitpur, Nepal.

  • Lama Maya

    Lama Maya began as a young music student with the Hari Kul music program and now she has evolved to become a keyboard teacher herself with the Musica Music Institute. Congratulations Lama Maya for working so hard to make your dream come true.

École De Musique de Kirina

Kirina, Mali

In 2009, Mahamadou Diabaté -brother of Grammy Award-winning Kora player Toumani Diabaté- and a wonderful musician in his own right, approached the Playing For Change Foundation about building a music school in his native country of Mali. Thanks to his help and guidance, PFCF broke ground on its third music school on the African continent this year: l'Ecole de Musique de Kirina (Music School of Kirina). The school is located in the village of Kirina, approximately 25 miles (40 km) south of Mali’s capital city, Bamako.

Kirina is a Griot village without any electricity, where the inhabitants live in humble straw roofed houses made of bricks that have dried in the sun's heat. The Griots play an essential role in Malian culture: they are the keepers of oral history and traditions, passing them on through music and poetry. Kirina has been preserving its unique musical and cultural heritage for more than 700 years and the school helps the people of Kirina preserve and share their  cultural heritage and musical traditions. Beyond the music school, we are also working to improve access to clean drinking water for the community, as well as  developing a musical instrument workshop destined to help to sustain the school financially and create job opportunities in the village.

The school opened its doors in October of 2010, and now offers classes in kora, djembe, balafon, dance, tama (talking drum). Beyond music classes we introduced language classes in French and English and we have recently launched an "evening classes" program where teachers from the public school are coming every week to the music school to give extra lessons in English, French, and Sciences. This new program, destined to help compensate the very low success rate at the public school,  as soon became a great asset for the music school as some kids are coming to attend the classes from other villages of the area. .

Join the music school on Facebook

Photos of the school preparing to open

Photos of the school in action

  • 3 of the greatest musicians in Africa come to visit the music school of Kirina

  • The villagers of Kirina build their music school with support from PFCF

  • Un reportage sur le processus de création de notre dernière école de musique à Kirina

  • Esto es un reportaje sobre nuestra última escuela de música en Kirina

  • Baaba Maal performing in Kirina, Mali

  • MUSIC IS THE KEY as students in Mali and Ghana meet each other through the first song recorded around our music schools.

  • More than 200 kids attend free classes in kora, balafon, drums, dance, musical theory, history, English and French.

  • Toumani Diabaté, Habib Koité, and Baaba Maal visit the music school of Kirina, Mali, created by PFCF.

  • Mahamadou and Seydou explain how the music school got started, and the impact of the music school on the community.

  • Meet the Students: Alou



Djembe repair

Allows local craftsmen to replace the head of a djembe (hand drum)

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Provides a locally made n’gony (string instrument), benefiting a child and local craftsman

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Jul 15, 2015

Teacher Spotlight: Seidou Kone

by Shauna Murray

More often than not, when you read about music education, you hear about all the benefits learning music can have on a child: more self-esteem, better collaboration with peers, and increased learning in primary school, to name a few. The benefits of these programs extend beyond the students participating in them, however; the seed of change that is planted in the school grows to include the teachers, their families, and the communities they live in.


For more than 70 generations the Griot inhabitants of this village have been the keepers of African oral tradition. Music is in their blood, and this rich cultural heritage that dates back to the 13th century is alive and well in and the families that make their homes here.

  • Traditional West-African Music Education

    Following the centuries-old Griot traditions, these classes focus on teaching traditional instruments such as Kora, Balafon, Tama, Djembé, and introduce an approach to musical theory. Classes are also given in dance, chant, English and French....… more

  • Djembe

    The djembé is maybe the most popular West African instrument. The djembé is a native percussion instrument in Kirina as its origins are traditionally located between Guinea (50 km south from Kirina) and Bamako ( 50 km north of Kirina).  In the...

    … more

  • French & English

    In addition to the music classes, our mission is to help the kids to prepare for their future in other ways. We decided to introduce language classes at the music school  after an agreement with the teachers of the public school. The idea of those...

    … more

  • Kora

    The kora is a traditional West African instrument made with a large calabash, which is a type of gourdnative to the area.  The kora is the "king" of the instruments in the Griot culture. It traditionally has 21 strings and according to the legend,...

    … more

  • Dance

    Almost every kid in Kirina could hold their own with professional dancers in western countries.  The dance is a natural discipline that every kid learns from his very early age. The dance classes at the school are pure moments of joy and music....

    … more

  • Musical History and Theory

    One of the dreams of Mahamadou Diabaté, director of the music school, is to be able to work with the students to transcribe popular local themes to sheet music. This is in paradox to the oral tradition of the Griots, but it is Diabate's bope that...

    … more

  • Tama

    The Tama or “Talking Drum” is a traditional percussion instrument very popular all over West Africa. It is traditionally a Griot instrument and it is considered one of the oldest percussion instruments in West Africa. The particularity of this...

    … more

  • Dun Dun

    The dun dun is a traditional bass drum very popular in all West Africa that usually accompanies Djembé. 

    The sound of dundun is always present during the dance classes at the music school. Those drums have different sizes and are sometimes...

    … more

  • Ngoni

    The ngoni or "n'goni" is a string instrument originating in West Africa. Its body is made of wood or calabash with dried animal (often goat) skin stretched over it like a drum. This ngoni is called a "djeli ngoni", played by griots to perform at...

    … more

  • Mahamadou Diabaté

    Mahamadou is a Malian musician from a "griot" family that has played music since the 13th Century. He is a very talented, and has studied at the National Institute of Arts in Bamako. In addition to teaching classes in Kirina, he also serves as the school's creative director.

  • Seydou Dembelé

    Seydou is an English teacher and school administrator in Bamako, Mali. He began working with PFCF as a translator and project coordinator during the school's construction. He is now the head administrator of the school in Kirina where he also teaches French and English classes.

  • Oumou Mariko

    Oumou is a singer and a dancer living in Bamako, and has recently been performing and teaching African dance throughout Europe. Her natural joy and energy immediately convinced us that she had to be the chant and dance teacher for the children of Kirina.

  • Karounga Diabaté

    Karounga is the son of Keletigui Diabaté, one of the greatest balafon (traditional African xylophone) players in the country We are pleased to have him as Kirina's balafon teacher. Karounga is also an instrument crafter; he made the 10 balafon used by the students in Kirina.

  • Ladji Diabaté

    Ladji Diabaté is a renowned kora player and teacher in Mali. He is the brother of master kora playerToumani Diabaté. Ladji traveled the world playing the kora and has been living during 8 years in the US as a musician. His patience and calmness made him a perfect kora teacher for our students in Kirina.

  • Seydou Koné

    Seydou Koné is a master djembé player who lives in a village located 14km from Kirina. He assists Mahamadou for the percussion classes and leads the percussion band that plays for each dance class at the school. Twice a week, Seydou takes a 14 km bike ride to come and teach at the school to share his knowledge with our students

  • Mountaga Sissoko

    Mountaga is a master talking drum and n'goni player and is also an incredible instruments hand-crafter. Since october 2010 Mountaga teaches talking drum and n'goni at the Kirina Music school. In september 2012, Mountaga recorded on 'United', a song around the world produced by PFC for the UN 7 Billion Actions Campain.

Ntonga Music School

Gugulethu, South Africa

In the spring of 2009, the Playing For Change Foundation opened its first music school in Gugulethu, South Africa, a township ten miles (16 km) outside of Cape Town. Like many of the townships formed during the government-imposed Apartheid that lasted from 1948 to 1994, Gugulethu is a community in need of assistance and inspiration. South Africans are still striving to repair the damage and injustice created during Apartheid, and the Ntonga Music School is setting a strong example of how the country can come together to create a brighter future for its people. Today the people of Gugulethu are full of life and spirit, but have many obstacles to overcome. With drugs, crime, poverty, and disease prevalent in the township, the Ntonga Music School offers hope and possibility for the community and its youth.

In addition to building the school, the Playing For Change Foundation provides teacher salaries, musical instruments,  and other necessities this center of compassion and creativity requires. The school is lead by a dedicated staff of music instructors and trained personnel who understand the unique challenges their students face. The school also serves as a community center where guest musicians from Cape Town and beyond come to perform for the students and community.

The Ntonga School is striving to empower the people of Gugulethu by creating positive opportunities for their community, as well as foster a greater connection to the rest of the world through the sharing of their music. The school is working to connect South Africans beyond the boundaries of Gugulethu; it is a source of pride and inspiration not only for the township, but also for the country.

Click here to view photos of Ntonga Music School on Flickr

  • Welcome to Gugulethu's Ntonga Music School!

  • The Music students and teachers at Ntonga perform a song dedicated to the South African heroes...

  • A Better World by student Yonelisa Wambi, featuring Mohammed Alidu on the talking drum.

  • A song recorded in Pokie's backyard on the first day met him.




Djembe repair

Allows local craftsmen to replace the head of a djembe (hand drum)

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Provides one month’s teacher salary

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Jun 11, 2014

Progress and Joy at the Ntonga Music School

by Thea Karki

Earlier this year, the program team at the Playing For Change Foundation worked on a strategy with the leadership team at the Ntonga Music School that could grow the school in a manageable way, increase community outreach and participation, and improve the overall structure of the music school.

Since February we have seen encouraging progress; we now have a strong administrator in place, and three new committee member candidates from Gugulethu. There are 40 to 50 consistent students showing up for classes on a regular basis, and up to 100 students that are participating in the program altogether.


Most residents of Guguletu work as laborers either in the Township itself or in nearby Cape Town. The youth of Guguletu wake around 7 AM, eating cereal and bread to fill their stomach. Most of them have between 3 and 5 siblings and attend local school-- some walk, others take a mini-bus. School ends by 3PM, at which point many students go straight to Ntonga to pursue their passion: music.

  • Music Education at the school

    The Music school is open from Monday to Saturday. Classes are given in bass, guitar, flute, drums, piano, vocals and musical theory. A very special attention is given to the study of the jazz standards during the ensemble classes, where our...

    … more

  • Piano

    The piano is a big part of our curriculum at the Ntonga Music school. We have two upright pianos and 2 keyboards at the school and those classes are being leaded three times per week by teacher Nelson Yeye Mongezi. 



    … more

  • Saxophone

    Tenor and alto saxophone classes are being held twice a week at the school by teacher John Ntshibilikwana 







    … more

  • Pokie Klaas

    Pokie took up the double bass in his twenties after suffering a knee injury in soccer. Since then Pokie has played in several bands throughout Cape Town, and today he is proud to share his musical skills on the double bass and electric bass with eager students of his community.

  • Nelson Mongezi

    Nelson Mongezi is a pianist, arranger and composer raised in the township of Langa. He is a versatile musician and got into music at a young age with his father, who was a musician too. Nelson 'Smous' is today a key element of our staff at Ntonga, bringing his musical knowledge and personal energy to our students.

  • Elijah Gxenya

    Elijah Genija has played guitar for decades. He spent his early years as a self-taught musician, not beginning formal guitar training until his mid thirties. He went on to study music at the University of Cape Town and currently performs with a number of ensembles in the city.

  • John Ntshibilikwana 

    John is from Gugs and has been a respected musician in the area over the past 40 years, who has played in bands such as the Marymax Orchestra or the Jazzotheque. He teaches saxophone and musical theory with relevant patience, creativity, and wisdom. His experience and educational skills are a true blessing for the music school.

  • Gus Warden

    Gus was born and raised in Cape Town. He has spent the last decade playing and teaching music, experiencing the work in the townships of his hometown. Gus plays piano, bass, drums and also sings: he has been playing, composing and arranging for an extended number of bands and projects in South Africa and abroad.

Udayapur Music Program

Udayapur, Nepal

In the summer of 2007, PFCF peace soldier William Aura traveled to the remote village of Tintale in Nepal's eastern valley Udayapur district. At that time the place had no electricity, no telephones, and no modern sanitation. The people of Tintale had lived and worked in almost complete isolation from the outside world for centuries.

PFCF was honored to be able to make a contribution to the community by initiating a new music program with two teaching locations - one directly in Tintale village and one in nearby Katari Bazar, Udayapur, Nepal.

Local Tintale village schoolteachers teach harmonium, madal and dance classes to about 15 students, with a particular focus on girl enrollment. And in nearby Katari, music notation instructor Dhruba Kumar Ghimire patiently instructs the children on how to play the harmonium. He is also supported by other teachers that provide drum and guitar lessons.

Our efforts provide classroom space and brand-new music instruments for the students as well as humanitarian aid in Tintale village. Local PFCF supporters Ishor Bajracharya, Shyam Basnet and Sujan Karki administer this vital music program.

Photos from the Udayapur Music Program

  • "Five Years Later" After five years, it is clear that sustained music education is changing lives. 

  • "Building the Dream" More classrooms, solar power, internet, and medical aid arrive in Tintale Village

  • PFCF Volunteers Rashmi Adhikari and Shyam Basnet interview harmonium player and music teacher Dhruba Kumar Ghimire in Tintale Village, Nepal. Village flute teacher Jeevan Magar joins in as the conversation runs deep from how a body responds to playing music to the importance of the teacher’s attitude.

  • See how the Udayapur Music Program got its start in Tintale Village

  • Meet the students and teachers of Tintale Village, Nepal



Madal drum

Provides a madal drum, benefiting a child and local craftsman

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Fund full programs

Funds three Nepali music programs for one month

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Dec 05, 2014


by Jen-Osh Buysse and Thea Karki

In the fall of 2013, students from the Multicultural Music Program at Morgantown Learning Academy (MLA) in West Virginia, led by their teacher Jen-Osha Buysse, reached halfway around the world to our students in the Udayapur Music Program in Tintale Village, Nepal. The Nepali children were thrilled to receive a hearty “Namaste” from their new American friends through the letters, pictures and songs that they sent. The Tintale kids responded through art, proudly presenting their school by drawing pictures of it to send back to the kids in West Virginia.


For countless generations this remote part of the Terai region has never had power and now all that has changed forever. The power lines placed nearly three years ago were finally switched on. They are now providing intermittent power to a portion of the village. There is only about six hours of electricity a day and you are never quite sure when it will be available. The folks here just go with the flow.

PFCF Music Administrator Shyam Basnet sets the record straight that all too many villagers simply cannot yet afford this modern miracle. For the chronic poor this extra monthly expenditure still remains out of their grasp financially. Yet nearly every village home that has powered up, immediately purchased a rice cooker. This saves the women many laborious hours in preparing the daily sustenance for their large families. One would think that a television, fan or refrigerator would come home first but without a doubt the rice cooker is on the top of every villager’s wish list.

  • Madal Drum

    His students learn basic rhythms and traditional technique. He illustrates that by holding the Madal drum horizontally, both of its heads can be played. This typical Nepalese instrument is considered to be the backbone of Nepalese folk music.

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  • Nepali Flute

    His students learn basic notation and traditional Nepali flute, also know as the Bansuri. It is generally believed that the Bansuri not only has a spell binding and enthralling effect on the people who hear it, but also on the animals native to...

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  • Harmonium

    Dhruba Kumar Ghimire teaches the harmonium at the Udayapur Music Program in Katari, Nepal. He also holds classes in voice, and employs his vocal skills as a teaching tool for his harmonium students. They are learning basic fingerings and how to...

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  • Shyam Basnet

    Shyam is the acting PFCF administrator for the Tintale Village Mother’s Society. He has been facilitating their activities since their inception in 2009. Shyam helps coordinate productions, rehearsals, travel arrangements as well as providing additional security.

  • Ganesh

    Ganesh is not only a valued instructor for PFCF’s Udayapur Music program, but he personally teaches nearly 60 students a basic education consisting of English, science, social studies and math. Trained in India, he previously served as a school principle there. Thankfully Ganesh has settled into village life for now.

  • Dhruba Kumar Ghimire

    Dhruba is a beloved middle school teacher in Katari Nepal. He plays harmonium at local Hindu ceremonies and has become an excellent music teacher.

Star School Music Program

Kigali, Rwanda

In 2010, Playing For Change Foundation joined LEAF International to help provide drum and dance training to the LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe, a group of young, many of whom grew up on the streets of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital.  As a result of the 1994 Genocide and the AIDS epidemic, 70% of the Rwandan population is under 30, and countless members of this subgroup are orphans who lack housing and education.

The Intore Culture & Music Program has offered weekly traditional drumming and performance classes to up to 14 young men. These classes help to preserve and perpetuate Rwanda's musical traditions. Through the synergy of music education and cultural immersion, the young men have been able to develop self-esteem, discipline, performance skills and community connection in a nurturing and creative environment.

"The music has changed us. We now feel proud and have hope. Through music and performance, we are example students to the rest of our community and our country" - LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe program participants.

In 2012, we expanded the program and partnered with Star School, a primary and secondary school located in Masaka, just outside of Kigali.  We provided the students with a series of workshops, led by members of the LEAF Intore Troupe. The Playing For Change Foundation purchased instruments for the school and funded teacher stipends for ten drum and dance workshops held over the course of the year. These workshops introduced the power of music to a new group of young people while offering them a connection to their country's rich cultural traditions. In addition, the workshops provided valuable teaching experience to the Intore Troupe members who led the sessions.

In 2013, we strenghtened our partnership with Star School to create a more permanent program. For the first time, a PFCF program will officially include sports as one of the disciplines. Emmanuel, our young soccer teacher explains that sport is an ideal complement for the education of the kids. This new program will take place at Star School, a primary and secondary school founded a few years ago by Bishop Nathan Amooti in order to provide education to more than 600 underprivileged children.




Djembe (Hand Drum)

Locally made instrument benefiting a child and village craftsman.

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One Month’s Salary

Provides one month’s salary for a music teacher in Nepal.

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Apr 17, 2014

Jean Paul Samputu on Music and Forgiveness, 20 Years After the Rwandan Genocide

by Playing For Change Foundation

Twenty years ago, Rwandan musician Jean Paul Samputu was one of the few members of his immediate family who was not killed during the genocide. Here, he speaks with us about his journey to survive, to forgive and to begin again. Music was critical to him finding his way.


The Star school is a primary and secondary school that provides education for more than 600 children. Nearly 200 of them stay at the school the all week. It is located in the village of Masaka, 10 miles East of Kigali.

  • Traditional Music,  Dance & Sports

    The Star School Music and Sports program provides percussion and dance classes to over 50 children twice a week as well as sports training to the students of the primary and secondary school at Star School. 

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  • Samuel

    Samuel is a profesional dancer and drummer from Kigali who has participated with numerous music projects in the country and abroad and a member of the ballet of Kigali.

  • Emanuel

    Emmanuel is a sports educator specialized in volley ball and soccer

  • Ezequiel

    Ezequiel is a maths teacher at Star School who assists the music and sports program

Mitrata Nepal Music Program

Kathmandu, Nepal

Mitrata means friendship in Nepali. It’s a word that epitomizes the meaning of love, care and support, so it's no surprise that when Nanda Kulu founded the Mitrata Nepal Foundation, she gave it this name. Mitrata Nepal's mission is to serve and uplift the less privileged. It had always been Nanda's dream to establish a home for underprivileged children, and through support from compassionate contributors this dream became a reality. 

Started in 2000 by Nanda, this very special place currently provides shelter, medical care and educational opportunities for approximately 50 children. This is accomplished by fundraising activities, linking children in Nepal with sponsors overseas, and operationally supporting a group home. Nanda and her fine crew are dedicated to supporting these children into adulthood, assisting them in becoming healthy, economically independent, educated Nepali citizens who have the opportunity to pursue happiness in life. 

Most children residing at Mitrata were either abandoned or rescued from troubled homes. The plight of children in Nepal is often desperate. Many are without food, on the streets and unable to attend school because they are too poor. Due to the devastating effects of the recent political conflict and civil war, there are more children without parents to care for them.

Sarangi master Kiran Nepali, of the popular Nepali music group Kutumba, teaches a music program at Mitrata. Kiran shared with us that the need was great for new instruments for the aspiring students. So with the help of PFCF, flutes, harmoniums, drums and Sarangis were purchased and happily received. 

There are four dynamic music classes taught every Saturday morning. The children are very fortunate as the teaching staff is first rate. Sarangi, flute, madal drums and traditional Nepali dance classes are taught to engaged students grateful for the opportunity. It’s deeply inspiring to watch these dedicated musicians work with these precious kids. 

You can truly make a difference! Donate today

  • Mitrata Nepal Music Program

  • "Music Gives Us Peace"

  • Meet the students: Ishowri

  • Meet the students: Chitra

  • Mitrata Nepal Performance Part 1:: The Mitrata students perform together for the first time, and are joined by a very special guest-- Japanese dancer, Minako Abe!

  • Mitrata Nepal Performance Part 2



Nepali Flute

Provides a flute for a child in Nepal


Madal drum

Provides a madal drum, benefiting a child and local craftsman

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Jul 03, 2014

The Moment We Live For | A Letter From Dinesh

by Shauna Murray

Dinesh is twelve years old and a student at the Mitrata Nepal Music Program in Kathmandu, Nepal. Each Saturday morning, the students all gather to practice drumming and dancing. Dinesh told us he feels proud because “I get some important knowledge by learning music in the classes.” He is currently working on his skills playing the Madal drum.


The recently observed Dashain festival is the most important festival of the Nepalese. All the kids at Mitrata are in an enthusiastic holiday mood at the time of the festival. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all caste and creed throughout the country. The market is filled with shoppers seeking new clothing, gifts, and enormous supplies of temple offering for the gods, as well as foodstuffs for the family feasting.

Fifteen festive days of celebration ended on the day of the full moon. Thorough out the kingdom of Nepal the goddess Durga in all her manifestations are worshiped with innumerable Pujas and abundant offerings. After receiving her blessing, people are ready to work and acquire virtue, power and wealth. Dashain is not only Nepal’s longest festival but also the most anticipated one among all festivals.

  • Sarangi

    The Sarangi is a folk Nepalese string instrument. Unlike Classical Indian Sarangi, it has four strings and all of them are played. Although originally used for voice accompaniments, the Sarangi gained a reputation as a wonderful solo instrument....

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  • Bansuri

    The Bansuri is an ancient musical instrument associated with cowherds and the pastoral tradition. The word Bansuri is actually the conjunction of two words – ‘Baans’ means bamboo and ‘Sur’ means musical note. It is one of the oldest musical...

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  • Madal drum

    The Madal double-headed drum of Nepalese origin is used for rhythm keeping in Nepalese folk music. A wooden log is carved to form a hollow cavity, and the two opposite openings are covered with cow leather. The heads are not the same size; the...

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  • Kiran Nepali

    Kiran not only teaches but also performs the sarangi for the renowned Nepali super-group Kutumba. He is the one that introduced PFCF to Mitrata Nepal in the first place. Kiran studied at Tribhuvan University and lives outside Kathmandu in Kritipur, Nepal.

  • Rameshowr Maharjan

    Master percussionist Rameshowr comes from a deep-rooted musical family. Well loved by his students, his personal teaching style is infectiously fun. Rameshowr is also a very popular tour guide in the area and speaks Spanish as well as English.

  • Raman Maharjan

    Raman simply loves to play his beloved Bansuri flute. He soft and gentle teaching style is very effective for the children. Raman recently recorded a performance for PFC3 in the picturesque location of his hometown Kritipur.

Bizung School of Music and Dance

Tamale, Ghana

The second PFCF school constructed on the continent of Africa is in Tamale, Ghana, hometown of Mohammed Alidu, who has played percussion with the Playing For Change Band. Alidu is a descendant of a long line of talking drum chiefs known as the "Bizung" that have lived in the area for more than 1,000 years. In his family's honor, the school has aptly been named the Bizung School of Music and Dance.

The school offers music and dance classes that are rooted in the traditional style of Northern Ghana. The school provides the children of Tamale a safe environment to learn in, as well as the opportunity to share their cultural and musical traditions with other children around the world.

Construction of the Bizung School was completed in February of 2010, and after hiring teachers, planning curriculums, and enrolling 150 students, classes began on May 17, 2010. Courses are currently offered in drumming, dance, xylophone, gonje, and vocals. For many students of the Bizung School of Music and Dance, taking classes here is their first time attending a school of any kind, as there are currently no other tuition-free schools in the northern region of Ghana.

The recent addition of a passenger van has made it possible for more students who live far away from the school to attend, as well as transport students to performances around the region. A music studio has been opened nearby for the students to learn how to use recording equipment and editing software--skills they can use in the future once they have moved on from the school. 

Click here for more photos from the Bizung School on flickr!

  • The students at Bizung unite to record an original song

  • Bizung School creative director, Mohammed Alidu, invites us into the school and speaks about the musical history of the region 

  • Interview with Halik, a student at the Bizung School

  • Welcome to Tamale! Meet the teachers & students of the Bizung School

  • Opening Day at the Bizung School: February, 2010

  • Students from the Bizung School of Music and Dance, Tamale, Ghana, perform on PFC Day 



Djembe repair

Allows local craftsmen to replace the head of a djembe (hand drum)

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Building Materials

Buys materials to repair and expand the school building and outdoor classroom

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Jul 22, 2015

Your Gift of Music at Work: Program Results and an Original Song Created by Our Students in Ghana

by Elizabeth Hunter

Students and teachers at the Bizung School of Music and Dance in Tamale, Ghana, have come together to record a song written by Halik, one of the students at the school. The song is titled “Bohami Bagsim”, which literally means “Learn Skills” and evokes how much Halik values everything he has learned at the school. He offers this song in dedication to PFCF supporters. Turn it up and enjoy the sweet sounds of music from the Bizung School!


Tamale is a city with more than 300,000 inhabitants and is the capital of the Northern region of Ghana. The main languages spoken in the area are Dagbani and English, and most of the inhabitants are Muslims.  The people of Tamale live by the sun. They wake at 5:30AM for morning prayers, and go to sleep shortly after sunset.  The Bizung School of Music and Dance is located in an area of town called the Norrip Village. Every afternoon from Monday to Friday, dozens of kids attend classes at the school to study music and dance. Most of the students live in the area but some of them come from other parts of Tamale to attend classes traveling by bicycle, walking or carried by one of the teachers.

  • Traditional Music and Dance

    The Bizung School of Music and Dance offers classes in traditional music, focusing on traditional instruments such as talking drum, djembé, palogo, gonge and xylophone. Classes are also given in dance, chant and keyboard. The kids also learn how...

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  • The Jera Dance

    Jera is a potent dance.  As with most dances in the North, the history of Jera is deep, obscure and mysterious.  Most sources trace the origin to one particular hunter called Nanja who, while in the bush, came across an ill omen: group of dwarfs. ...

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  • The Adowa Dance

    Surely one of the most stately, graceful, dances in West Africa, the Akan “Adowa” takes its name from the impressive animal, the antelope.  With its silent, swift movements, the antelope is evocative of the ideal warrior, and that is how this...

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  • Xylophone

    The xylophones at Bizung are not indigenous to the tribes of the Northern Region.  We brought them here from Lawra in the Upper West region of Ghana, close to the borders of Burkina Faso and Cote D’Ivoire.  The big frames and the dangling gourds...

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  • Gahle

    Gahle refers to traditional maracas. The gourd accompanying the gonje is called gahle, although popularly the instrument is referred to as “Zabia”, the name of those who play the gahle. This instrument, with little black seeds hidden inside, is...

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  • Guŋ-Gᴐŋ

    The hefty cylindrical bass guŋ-gᴐŋ carved from cedar, called brekete in Southern Ghana, has a slender hide snare (chahira) strung right across the top portion of both broad leather faces. When the curved stick strikes and the left hand slaps above...

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  • Kpanlogo

    Kpanlogo is a type of drum that is associated with kpanlogo music. The drum originates from the Ga people of the Greater Accra Region in Ghana. The drum has a tapered body carved from a single piece of wood that is similar in shape to a conga. The...

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  • Dagomba Lunga

    The Dagomba lunga is an hourglass shaped tension talking drum, variations of which are known more widely across the subcontinent as don-don. Fastened on the shoulder with a scarf, the lunga is fitted beneath the armpit and beaten with a curved...

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  • Gonje

    The gonje is a mysterious instrument—strange and uncanny even to those among whom its playing is commonplace. The sounds, the technique, and the crafting of the gonje all make for an intensely singular aural experience. Decorated with scarves and...

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  • Abdul Rahman

    Abdul leads the school and teaches percussion, dance & chant. He got into music at a young age & studied in Ghana & abroad, then began work as a music instructor & traveled the world to perform music & dance. He is a project manager at the Youth Home in Tamale & chairman of the Dance Association of the Northern Region of Ghana.

  • Mohammed Alidu

    A descendant of a lineage of drummer chiefs from the North of Ghana, Alidu has resided in the U.S. since 2005 where he formed his own band, and toured with the Playing For Change Band. Alidu came to PFCF with the idea to build a music school in his hometown and has taught there several months per year since it opened in 2010.

  • Benedict Ali Kolaan

    Benedict Ali Kolaan is a music teacher and ethnomusicologist specializing in African music. He teaches rudiments and theory of music--one of Bizung’s more formal course offerings--as well as traditional folk songs from around Ghana. B.A. Kolaan received an award for his voluntary service to help send blind children to school.

  • Suali Seidu

    Suali teaches percussion and dance at the school. His natural authority and experience with music allow him to teach different instruments to our students. Suali has been a music instructor for almost fifteen years and currently combines his work at the school with a position of music instructor at the Youth Home in Tamale.

  • Ahmed Abdul-Samed

    Abdul-Samed is a gonje musician—first learning this traditional horse-hair violin as a child from his grandfathers. He is a master in his field & regularly performs at traditional ceremonies and festivals around Ghana. Samed has released two albums in Northern Ghana which blend the sonorous gonje with Western Instrumentation.

  • Prince Mahama

    The legendary Prince Mahama got his start as a member of the Adom Professionals, an all-blind band that traveled extensively around Ghana. He has the honor of being the first musician in the Northern Region to sing originally composed songs in the Dagbani language with a Western band. Prince plays guitar, keyboard, bass & drums.

  • Christiana Kofi

    Christiana Kofi has been working at Bizung since it opened as a secretary. She is a trained singer in church choirs and enjoys gospel music. Since she began at Bizung, Christy has also developed an interest in traditional music and enjoys many Dagbani songs.