Accra "Keys" Youth Orchestra
In collaboration with Keys of Change USA and Kinder Paradise
Keys of Change USA has been involved in Ghana since 2018, providing music education and performance opportunities to young Ghanaians who come from harsh and deprived backgrounds. Keys USA successfully launched the Accra Youth Sinfonietta in 2019 and conducted online music classes through the pandemic period of 2020 and 2021. Together, in collaboration with our local partner Kinder Paradise, it was decided that, starting in 2022, Keys of Change USA would introduce a programme where music teachers travel to Ghana and provide face-to-face music classes.
The structure we have set up is for two international music teachers to be on the ground in Ghana for a period of up to six months. During that time, they live at the Kinder Paradise compound, providing daily lessons to the children. These personalised music lessons are structured to be a time for the children at Kinder Paradise to experience a confidence-building process, to develop leadership and collaboration skills and, most importantly, to feel a positive sense self-worth.
As a midterm goal, the music teachers had to create and sustain a structured schedule of musical classes, during which the participating students could continue improving their musical skills. Given the very harsh backgrounds many of the children come from, structure and stability are essential for them to feel safe and have an opportunity to grow, but at the same time the experience must also be challenging. The rate of improvement for individual children varied greatly. However, it was important for the classes to remain regular. Progress, however small, was always recorded. In some cases, progress was phenomenal, and some unique talents, often unexpected, were identified.
The long-term goal of using music as a tool to improve the lives of the children is a fundamental objective of Keys of Change USA. This means we use music as a tool to improve the lives of the children participating in the programme, inspiring, building self-
worth, confidence and empowerment. The music teachers quickly embraced their role, not only as music teachers but also as life coaches. We cannot emphasise enough the sad fact that these children have never received the support, trust and guidance of an adult. The music teachers essentially stepped into the role of a parent, helping the students feel better about their present and future.