Kenya has an abundance of untapped music and dance talents that need to be nurtured and developed for the country to increase its contribution to the global music repertoire and penetrate the world market. The recent collapse of music education in both formal and technical institutions has adversely contributed to the deterioration of standards of music products. Whereas there are several independent private music schools, there is no government institution that exclusively caters for the wholesome and comprehensive training of musicians. In addition, there is no effective system of monitoring and evaluating the quality and content of the education provided by these schools to ensure globally acceptable standards.
“if the government through its ministry of culture and presidential music commission would develop a policy on music and the role of music in society and the need to grow the sector by making sure certain genres of music are played on radio consistently then the industry would grow. This would create demand for quality to improve and more Kenyan music on our airwaves”.- Tedd Josiah
The decision to make music non-examinable in the primary school has produced a rippling effect that has affected all levels of the education system in our country. The decline in music education started with the declaration of music as one of the non-examinable subjects in primary schools. While on paper, music is still in the curriculum in primary schools, it is in reality barely taught. Many of the secondary schools that used to offer music as an academic subject have now dropped it. Serving music teachers are at times forced to teach other subjects due to the decline of music as a subject. At the Universities, fewer students opt to take the subject due to limited opportunities in the labour market.
Tedd Josiah, a well known music producer and one of the pioneers in the industry Kenyan music industry Says “if the government through its ministry of culture and presidential music commission would develop a policy on music and the role of music in society and the need to grow the sector by making sure certain genres of music are played on radio consistently then the industry would grow. This would create demand for quality to improve and more Kenyan music on our airwaves”.
There are therefore fundamental problems with regard to the provision of music education in schools. Very little practical music making goes on to facilitate learning and nurture creativity at both primary and secondary school levels. This is occasioned by exorbitant costs of music instruments and equipment. Music learning is therefore heavily theoretical. This results in graduates who are barely skilled in music making and are not able to meet the market demands or service the Music Industry. Despite these setbacks music still thrives in post primary institutions. Learning is however characterized by a curriculum that is heavily biased towards western content, material and delivery, making formal music education culturally alienating to the Kenyan child.
Several public and private universities have established music departments while teacher training colleges offer music as a subject. However, even at this level, learning is still characterized by a theoretical approach. Lack of goodwill at all levels and appreciation of the value of music also contribute to the apathy that surrounds the teaching and learning of music. In addition, there is insufficient understanding amongst stakeholders in the Industry with regard to the functioning of the Industry, labour relations, contracts and music business opportunities. This inhibits the industry players, limiting their performance and resulting in low output.
Issues of intellectual property rights are either ignored or unknown. There is no systematic attempt to educate artists and managers on copyright matters and management of music business.