Kenyan teenagers who had previously only known the University of Georgia through the computer screens they use to receive music lessons from Hugh Hodgson School of Music graduate students recently spent a month in the Peach State.
During the month of November, a dozen students from Moi Girls’ High School in Eldoret, Kenya, visited, studied and vacationed in Athens, Atlanta and Savannah, as part of their ongoing relationship with the Hodgson School.
Originating in 2011, the relationship between the all-girls school in Kenya and the School of Music has been cultivated thanks to the work of numerous University of Georgia graduate students and faculty, including Pete Jutras, professor of piano; Jean Kidula, professor of musicology/ethnomusicology; and Skip Taylor, professor of music education.
Those faculty and students have traveled to Kenya three times (2011, 2015 and 2016) and this is the second trip students and faculty from Moi Girls have made to Athens. As a result of a request made during their first trip, Moi Girls and the Hodgson School have created a program unique in the world of music education.
Twice a week—every week since Jutras’ visit in fall 2015—students in Eldoret connect with graduate students at UGA and receive music lessons. Beginning with only piano lessons, the program has expanded to include band lessons following a School of Music trip to Kenya earlier this year.
“There are so many benefits to this program,” said Jutras. “The students at Moi Girls’ receive valuable instruction and are able to connect with a larger world, while our own UGA students are able to have firsthand experience with the transformative power of music instruction. They can watch themselves make a difference in the lives of the girls they are teaching and appreciate how much good they can do for the world through music.”