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 decided to model the same principles and initiate a music program for disadvantaged Thai children. The Khlong Toey Music program was founded in August 2013.
Our school in the Khlong Toey slum provides a safe and uplifting space where self-esteem can strengthen and creativity flourish through weekly music lessons, rehearsals and regular performances. The program instills a sense of hope, self-worth and cross-cultural awareness in children who come from challenging circumstances.
Volunteer instructors currently teach private or small group lessons in guitar, ukulele, bass, keys, drums and voice on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Flute and other instruments are also sometimes taught. Saturday afternoons are devoted mainly to rehearsals for KTMP’s two bands, one for the younger students and another for those with more experience. The atmosphere is relaxed, but lessons and rehearsals are taken seriously.
Formal music theory is taught in small doses, but KTMP emphasizes rock, pop, folk, soul, reggae and jazz as opposed to classical music. The children are taught how to respond to one another in the context of a band, and ongoing performances at events encourage them to do their best. Up to 30 kids are in attendance on Saturdays, with around 15 who are firmly dedicated at any given time.
In addition to the regular music lessons, rehearsals and recordings, the school plays host
to visual arts lessons, workshops, games, birthday parties, shared meals, meetings and video conferencing calls with other PFCF-associated schools from around the world. Being in touch — and even singing along — with other kids in Asia and Africa strengthens cross-cultural awareness on both sides, and it’s a lot of fun!
The school includes two music rooms on the upper floors, both stocked with instruments, microphones, amplifiers and recording equipment that was provided partly by the Wangkanai Company and partly by private donations.
VIDEO OVERVIEW: TAKE A VISIT AT THE KHLONG TOEY MUSIC PROGRAM
LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY
With over 100,000 inhabitants spread over a densely populated swathe of Southern Bangkok, Khlong Toey is the largest slum community in Thailand. The area was initially developed in the early 20th century around an enormous slaughterhouse, and is now home to Bangkok’s primary shipping port along the Chao Phraya River.
MEET WITH MOK
10-year-old Mok had difficulty concentrating
when he first arrived at the school, but learning music in a supportive environment has transformed him into a sweet boy and dedicated musician. In addition to singing, he plays bass (despite it being almost too big for him!) ...
UPDATE FROM THE GROUND
I’m Gigi, co-founder and director of the Khlong Toey Music Program. Here to give you a heads up about what is happening in Thailand. We are soon celebrating our 5 years anniversary and very happy with the journey so far
Making it Happen
Clarence Bekker visits Khlong Toey