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 roaming in gangs, sniffing glue and taking drugs. 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!

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

$15

Repairs two instruments

Repairs two instruments

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$100

Purchase 1 Acoustic Guitar

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NEWS

Apr 09, 2014

Thailand Meets Madagascar

by Thea Karki

On March 21st, the Khlong Toey Music Program in Bangkok welcomed some special guests. The extraordinary all-female Brazilian percussion group, “Bloco Malagasy”, came from the underprivileged area of Toliara, Madagascar. “Bloco Malagasy” joined PFCF students from the Khlong Toey for a musical cross-cultural exchange. Throughout the day, members of the percussion group and students at Khlong Toey had the opportunity to collaborate on art projects, play music and dance together. The visit provided a space for individual expression and collective inspiration.

LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

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.

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 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

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

$25

Madal drum

Provides a madal drum, benefiting a child and local craftsman

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$5

Nepali Flute

Provides a flute for a child in Nepal


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NEWS

May 08, 2013

Mothers Can Change the World

by Elizabeth Hunter

When we provided resources to the Mother’s Society in Tintale, Nepal, we knew there was a great need. Now, several years later, we stand in awe of the creativity and courage of this group of women - and the girls who have joined them - who are using music, dance and performances to educate area villages about the risks of human trafficking, drugs and alcohol.

LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

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.

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: 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 "evenning 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. .

Free Image Hosting  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.

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

$15

Djembe repair

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

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$75

N’gony

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

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NEWS

Feb 25, 2014

T-Shirts for Our Music School in Mali

by Seydou Dembelé

All the teachers, students and the administrators of Ecole de Musique de Kirina are happy to thank David Pick, our kind and amazing Australian friend who offered more than 300 t-shirts to Ecole de Music de Kirina. David is an Australian musician who wants to help bring positive change through arts and music Education. That is why he supports the Playing For Change Foundation mission…

LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

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.

    This instrument is taught at the École de Musique de Kirina Program in Kirina, Mali. 

    … 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

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

$15

Djembe repair

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

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$150

Teacher salary

Provides one month’s teacher salary

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NEWS

Mar 05, 2014

Music to My Ears

by Chi Nguyen

On the morning of Wednesday, February 26th, 2014, I was able to visit Pokie and Derrick of Ntonga Music School. Although it was too early for the younger ones to arrive at Ntonga, I was able to witness Pokie giving a one-on-one bass lesson to an older student of his. When asked how he enjoyed Ntonga, a huge smile spread across the blossoming bass player’s face and he said, “I love it. I come here every day, every single day, before work. It is my passion.”

LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

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.

  • 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 initiated a new music program with two teaching locations - one directly in Tintale village and one in nearby Katari Bazar, Udayapur, Nepal.


Local Tintale village schoolteacher Ganesh teaches a harmonium, madal and dance class 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

  • News from 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

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

$25

Madal drum

Provides a madal drum, benefiting a child and local craftsman

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$1000

Fund full programs

Funds three Nepali music programs for one month

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NEWS

Feb 11, 2014

Music Can Stop the War

by William Aura

We are pleased to present this short documentary film, MUSIC CAN STOP THE WAR, which offers a glimpse into life in Katari and gives the students an opportunity to reveal to us their innermost feelings about the impact of music in their lives.
The Nepali people living in the Terai face daily challenges that few of us in the western world could ever imagine, yet learning and performing music often becomes a primary source of healing and rejuvenation. PFCF’s vital effort continues to benefit each and every student in an amazing way and it’s all because of your support. The children have asked us to represent them. This is their message to you.

LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

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.

    … more

  • 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...

    … more

  • 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...

    … more

  • 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.

 

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

$35

Djembe (Hand Drum)

Locally made instrument benefiting a child and village craftsman.

Give this item


$60

One Month’s Salary

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

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NEWS

Apr 16, 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.

LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

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. 

    … more

  • 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. Their mission is to serve and uplift the less privileged. It has always been Nanda Kulu'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 orphanage 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

  • 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

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

$5

Nepali Flute

Provides a flute for a child in Nepal


$25

Madal drum

Provides a madal drum, benefiting a child and local craftsman

Give this item


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NEWS

Apr 18, 2013

Sarangi

by François Viguié

The Sarangi (Sārangī) is a bowed, short-necked string instrument from South Asia which is used in Hindustani classical music. It is said to most resemble the sound of the human voice – able to imitate vocal ornaments such as gamaks (shakes) and meends (sliding movements).

LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

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....

    … more

  • 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...

    … more

  • 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...

    … more

  • 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.

Hari Kul Music Program

Patan, Lalitpur District, Nepal

The Newar are considered to be the indigenous people of the Kathmandu valley. They are renowned for their rich musical tradition. This highly developed culture has a long history of social progress through art and music. Newar inhabitation of the Kathmandu valley is so ancient that it extends beyond recorded history into the realm of legend. People of all walks of life cherish their music.



As a child, Newari musician Hari Kul was taught to make madal drums by his famous drum-making father. Madals are a rhythm-keeping drum for folk songs in Nepal as well as northern India. They are made of wood and both heads are played, holding the madal drum horizontally. The drum averages two feet in length and six inches in diameter. The skin is similar to the skin of the tabla. Black dots made of iron filings, flour and egg are burned on the skins in the center, giving the skin weight that causes the tone to reverberate like a low pitched bell.



For years Hari has taken on numerous disadvantaged children who have no means of support, and freely teaches them music. He and his wife, son and daughter operate a humble music shop in the picturesque Lalitpur district. He personally makes and provides most of the music instruments utilized in our Nepali music programs. What strikes us most about Hari is his insatiable desire to educate the disadvantaged.

This remarkable musical family will often sit on the rooftop taking in the Himalayan skyline while discussing music, healing and life. Local musicians casually stop by for tea and delightful conversation. Music is the motivator for all. The view is indeed breathtaking. Prayer flags rustle in the wind overlooking Durbar Patan Square. Children are laughing. Families gather for supper. There is a sense the day is done and it’s time for community and family. We are fortunate to have partnered with such a generous spirit.

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

$25

Madal drum

Provides a madal drum, benefiting a child and local craftsman

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$50

Building Materials

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

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NEWS

Jun 13, 2013

Student performance at Hari Kul’s

by William Aura

During a recent PFCF visit, over 15 music students participated in a rousing musical and dance performance delighting everyone in attendance. The kids had been rehearsing quite a while for this presentation. Original songs were written in our honor and the children gave their all. We could see definitive improvement over last year’s visit. Hari is doing a very good job. Despite experiencing a chilling Himalayan evening, this very special performance warmed our hearts.

LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

Nearby Hari Kul’s shop, a number of musicians, family and friends gather at Patan Durbar Square to celebrate one of the most dazzling of all Hindu festivals – Tihar, the festival of lights. During the festival the devoted worship Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth. All the houses are cleaned and decorated with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter the house that is the cleanest. People light candles, oil lamps and other lights and the whole place sparkles like a diamond.

The fifth and last day of Tihar is a day where sisters put a "Tika" on the forehead of brothers, to ensure long life, and thank them for the protection they give. The brothers in return give a gift. A special garland is made for the brothers out of a flower that wilts after a couple of months, symbolizing the sister's prayer for her brother's long life.

  • Nepali folk music

    Advanced music student and volunteer instructor Maya Lama is now introducing traditional Nepali folk dance to the eager children. Nepali folk dance has wonderful themes of love and courtship, everyday life, religious worship, happiness and...

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  • Hari Lal Kul

    Hari is a master drum maker taught by his renowned father. He selflessly provides music lessons to local disadvantaged students in picturesque Lalitpur, Nepal. Hari has created some of the most unique percussion instruments we’ve ever seen.

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!

  • 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 

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

$15

Djembe repair

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

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$50

Building Materials

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

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NEWS

Mar 21, 2014

Passenger Van Brings Music to More Children in Ghana

by Thea Nash

Exciting things are happening at the Bizung School of Music and Dance! We have expanded in amazing ways to bring music and dance to even more children in Tamale, Ghana. Our teachers and administrators were concerned that some of our brightest existing students would be unable to continue taking music classes due to personal circumstances that made it difficult for them to travel to the school. Thanks to the leadership of Bizung Music School Founder Mohammed Alidu and a very generous donation, the Bizung School of Music & Dance now has a van.

LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY

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 lung is fitted beneath the armpit and beaten with a curved...

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  • Piano

    The piano and keyboard are taught in both the Ntonga Music School Program in Gugulethu, South Africa and the Bizung School of Music and Dance Program in Tamale, Ghana

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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.