Genene Gorfo, 28, is a third year music student at Yared Music & Theatrical School. Before joining the music school, he was a law graduate from Saint Mary’s University College but he was not inclined to find a job with his law degree. Rather, he preferred to pursue a degree in musical art.
“I joined the music school because I had a desire for long time to be a musician. I used to play the saxophone in the police orchestra when I was a student at the law school,” said Genene as he explained his change of course.
Genene had joined the music school after looking at Yared Music School’s announcement. In order to be registered as a music student, the announcement requires applicants to complete the 12th grade, scoring a passing point, and to take additional exams that the music school requires. However, there is a regular way of joining the school, which is after accomplishing grade 12 based on the allocation of students to different departments by the Ministry of Education.
Yared is a university level music school, which has two departments, namely the Classical Music Department and the Jazz Department. Previously, there was only one department, but the Jazz Department was added in 2012. The difference between the departments is based on the genres and musical instruments taught in the departments.
The Jazz Department, offers musical composition as a major, as well as playing instruments like the guitar, bass guitar, saxophone, drums and other instruments, whereas the Classical Music Department is focused on the teaching of musical instruments such as the violin, cello and flute.
Yared Music School, formerly known as the National School of Music, became the first higher institution for music in Ethiopia when it was established in 1954. Now there are a number of privately owned music schools operating in the city.
At the private schools, the students are not required to take the 12th grade national exam and the courses taken are only for a limited period of time while Yared offers a five-year programme.
At Take Five Music School, located in Bole, the maximum period of time for training is six months and the minimum is three months, whereas at AB Music School located in Gerji, course duration is a maximum of four months.
Tekalegn Alemneh, 19, has attended high school only up to Grade 10. He is now studying Music Arrangement at Take Five.
“I grew up in a protestant church listening to songs which are made using different music instruments,” he said, explaining the source of his interest in music.
Another student, Samuel Gebreyohannes, is a graduate of the Addis Abeba Architecture School.
“I had my own guitar at home but I wanted to develop my playing skills through music courses. I love playing music and I like to entertain myself that way,” Samuel said.
The fees of the music schools vary according to the courses they render, vary. At Take Five, there is a 50 Br registration fee and a monthly fee of 500 Br. AB charges 350Br per month. Both schools train their students for an hour a day, three days a week.
“Most students come to our school to take short courses of not more than three months. Even those who register for the three month course do not finalise their courses. Most students consider the courses as a recreational activity rather than a professional pursuit, Tewodros Sheferaw, a co-owner of Take Five School told Fortune.
There are a number of people who need to learn music even though there are only few music schools, Abrham Kidane said, while sharing the reason for his motivation to open AB Music School.
Only few people take music courses for professional development. The rest of students mostly come to get relief from their work load by taking a leisure course as entertainment, Abrham said.
The licence to operate a music school is issued by the MoE. To open a music school, one should have teacher’s Curriculum Vitae and be certified by the Centre of Competency (COC). In addition, the availability of musical instruments is imperative. Similarly, there is a need to ensure that all students take the COC exams if the licence is to be renewed.
With all the inconvenient procedures from the MoE, a music school is unprofitable and should not be considered as entrepreneurship or a business, said Abraham. He mentioned that the COC requirement was also a problem.
“Our students do not want to take the COC as they come for a hobby and the Ministry of Education requires this for renewing the licences of the music schools to test their students who finish their courses with COC,” he said, adding that the recreational side of the music schools is more significant than their business aspect.
The increase in the number of music schools is at least better than nothing as there are people who want to take music courses but who cannot join the governmental music school. Gradually, though, the private schools should develop into more professional schools, besides their hobby side, Eyob Alemayhu, teacher at the Classical Music Department at Yared Music School told Fortune.
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