Safaricom Youth Orchestra
Launched in 2014, Safaricom Youth Orchestra is a project that trains and nurtures the musical talents of children aged between 10 and 17 years from different backgrounds.

Sam Onyango is a budding songwriter and singer who’s trying to carve a career in music and he reckons YouTube is his likely path to fame and success.

In the last two months, Sam’s bongo music videos have won him views and subscribers and this, he believes, marks the first steps of realizing his dream – a bongo star in the East African region.

“I want to be a music entrepreneur,” said Sam, who is one of the 18 students, who have graduated this year from Safaricom Youth Orchestra.

At Safaricom Youth Orchestra, Sam has perfected playing trumpet and French horn instruments, a skill that he’s banking on to build his career in music.

“I have been playing the trumpet for seven years and the French horn for two years practicing at Ghetto Classics in Korogocho, Nairobi,” said Sam adding that he already has a music label and he’s reaching out to investors to help him turn his dream into reality.

Once your YouTube music channel becomes popular, product Ads start getting displayed as viewers access your content.  And whenever people click on an advert running on your channel, a musician earns a commission, adding a fresh income stream besides live performances, endorsements, and the sale of merchandise.

Launched in 2014, Safaricom Youth Orchestra is a project that trains and nurtures the musical talents of children aged between 10 and 17 years from different backgrounds.

“We try and teach them techniques that can improve the overall playing as individuals,” noted violin instrument trainer David Ralak adding that by joining Safaricom Youth Orchestra when they are young, the children get to learn how to play a range of instruments giving them great exposure to better plan their careers.

“In Kenya Orchestra players normally would start at a very old age. But now the age has gone down and this is really good because when the young ones interact with these instruments, they can dream bigger,” David explained.

Tech giant Safaricom has contracted The Art of Music to run the Safaricom Youth Orchestra.

Violist Sam Onyango who is one of the 18 graduates from Safaricom Youth Orchestra.

“Despite the challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic, the members leveraged on technology and quickly adapted to learning and rehearsing virtually. The orchestra promotes all-around growth in music and life skills, and this graduation ceremony is a testament to the dedication of both the tutors and students,” said Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO, at the ceremony where 18 students received certificates in orchestral music.

Founder and executive director of The Art of Music Foundation Elizabeth Njoroge said their goal is to use music to change the lives of children so that they become better citizens who are more fulfilled and equipped to handle life through the power of music.

“Safaricom Youth Orchestra is something that we are very honored and delighted to be a part of. The late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore tasked us to build the structure of the orchestra and how it would run. We started with around 60 kinds and every year it just gets bigger and bigger,” noted Ms Njoroge.

Some of the children who graduated long ago have remained as tutors in the school while others have turned into amazing musicians, a path that Sam is keen on following.

“If you listen to Nairobi Orchestra – one of the oldest orchestras in Africa – playing for instance… about 75 percent of those players have come from Safaricom Youth Orchestra,” said Ms Njoroge, “Safaricom Youth Orchestra has definitely changed the landscape of classical music here in Kenya.”

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