“Mbale Schools Band is the leading youth brass band in Uganda,” according to Music in Africa.
With the belief that “it is much better to give someone a chance of a job than to give money,” Philip Monk founded the Mbale Schools Band Project and the ugive2uganda charity. The purpose was threefold: to provide educational sponsorships, medical assistance, and valuable skills in reading and performing music that could lead to future employment for children in Uganda.
“Although music is a part of the social fabric of Uganda,” says Monk, “very few Ugandans read music. In fact, when most students enter the Junior band they don’t even know music can be written down! That’s why a major focus of the band program is music theory and musicianship”
There are now over 500 students in several bands throughout the region. These students learn the value of music and how to value themselves. Older students are now the leaders of the bands and several current and former students have been earning an income through performing.
As the Mbale Schools Band program continues to grow so do their needs. Buying instruments, uniforms, new music, and repair tools is a struggle in a country where the median annual income is less than $1,000.