August 6, 2010 – Last month, scouts from one of the world’s most prestigious music schools came trotting to Kenya looking for musical talent from around the region.
More than 90- talented young individuals from as far as Nigeria and South Africa came to the Brookhouse School in Nairobi to contest for the African Scholars Program, where scholarships of close to $1 million would be awarded this year.
The college and its programs are known to shape the musical careers of some of Kenya’s most outstanding performers, namely Eric Wainaina, Kanji Mbugua and Victor Seii.
The auditions were well attended.
“We went through 90 auditions. Everyone got a 15 minute slot to showcase their talent,” said Ron Reid, an Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music.
Ron, who is a bass guitarist, says they not only look for vocalists, but also musicians who play the guitar, the drums… “Apart from just singing or playing, you have to have the ear for music,” he adds.
“The course that we offer is all rounded. It’s not just about the music. We have to assess if the successful candidate can cope in the Berklee environment and if they can benefit from an all round experience,” according to Michael Shaver, Assistant Director of International Admissions at Berklee.
Berklee offers a total of 20 scholarships a year in Africa, one of which is a full scholarship while the rest are partial sponsorships.
At the college they offer about 12 majors, namely composition, contemporary writing and production, electronic production and design, film scoring, jazz composition, music business/management, music education, music production and engineering, music therapy, performance, professional music and song-writing.
“Most of the students we get in the school end up doing more than they thought they would, or change their major halfway. That’s just how the college opens up your options,” Michael explains.
In Kenya, the auditions lasted three days. The average age of contestants was 24-25 years with the oldest person interested somewhere in their mid-30s.
The troupe from Berklee also took part in workshops, music education outreach and music clinics during their visit.
While concluding an interview with Capital Lifestyle, saxophonist and Berklee professor Dan Moretti expressed: “Many of the contestants, I feel, lose out when they restrict themselves to acapella. They miss out on so many chances.”
Berklee’s choice for a scholarship will be made known in October.
For more details check out www.berklee.edu