Athens, Ga. – Kenyan teenagers who received online music lessons from Hugh Hodgson School of Music graduate students are currently on a tour of the Classic City.
Until Nov. 30, a dozen students from Moi Girls’ High School in Eldoret, Kenya, will visit, study and vacation in Athens, Atlanta and Savannah as part of their ongoing relationship with the Hodgson School.
The trip will include an array of activities: School of Music classes and performances, a day at an American high school, college football and basketball games, a trip to Six Flags Over Georgia, sightseeing in Atlanta and Savannah, an American Thanksgiving dinner and more. Throughout, the girls will be guided, hosted and, for a time, housed by faculty and staff from the School of Music.
“With a visit like this, the students from both countries are able to learn about cultural differences and appreciate shared experiences-think french fries, trending YouTube videos, ice cream and, of course, music,” said Pete Jutras, professor of piano and coordinator for the visit.
“It is wonderful to live in a time where we can make meaningful connections with students literally half a world away.”
Originating in 2011, the relationship between the all-girls school in Kenya and the School of Music has been cultivated by UGA graduate students and faculty, including Jutras, Jean Kidula, professor of musicology/ethnomusicology-who, with the help of several graduate students, first initiated contact between the institutions-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.
The program attracted attention from near and far, garnering donations and support from organizations, businesses and individuals as close as Stripling’s General Store in Bogart and as far as the Yamaha Corporation of America, which has donated two digital pianos to the project and promoted it globally.
“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.”
About the Hugh Hodgson School of Music
The Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia is a rising national leader in musical education and performance. With over 300 undergraduate and 200 graduate students, the School of Music trains the music performers, educators, scholars, composers and therapists of tomorrow with world-class facilities, unparalleled instruction and hundreds of performance opportunities each year. The School of Music is located in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.