Ethiopia: 'Music Needs Everyone, As Everyone Needs It' –

by Zelalem

During the war of Adwa, soldiers used to be motivated by war cries – strong poetic music – in Amharic called “shilela”. Especially women were good at creating songs that made the fighters valorous. The songs had also a degrading nature.They were painting the fascist troops as cowardice.

Music is there in a given society in every situation.

Nowadays, the new generation is buckling under globalization. It is imbibing all with out filtering things. Youths are becoming more fascinated by foreign musics and cultures while long lasting Ethiopian music is being adulterated and getting one of its legs in the grave.

Music courses are being given only in a few schools. Addis Ababa University’s Yared music school could be mentioned as the only fully equipped music school in Ethiopia.

Ato Alemayehu woldeyohannes has been Yared Music School’s teacher for the last 30 years. He has established his own music school 14 years ago to help youngsters who are more talented and didn’t get the chance to join Yared Music School. The school gives courses on traditional Ethiopian instruments, and vocal training. He as well gives training on piano, guitars, and drum.

The director and founder of this private school explained, the school is now in a real problem that could force it to stop teaching. “in summer vacation(rainy season) we have many students to teach, but only 5 and 10 students come in winter(when school begins).

And the rental fee of the house we rented for our school is increasing from time to time. I am covering the rental fee incurring loss. Out of my love of helping students in music, I cover it with my own salary from AAU Yared music school.”

“While Art is the most important field in promoting development, people don’t give it the required level of attention, we even haven’t a representative in the parliament,” the music teacher Added.

He has published four books on music and music instruments in order to guide students and other interested ones. The book is replete with theories that show to easily play traditional instruments like Begena, masinko and kirar. And it makes lucid how to learn easily those instruments.

He believes that what the youth want to learn and what they get are different in many music schools. “Many youths want to learn like pop and jazz, in fact, AAU shows improvement on those issues”.

As the experienced teacher saw two generations of music, in contrast he said, nowadays the quality of music mainly depends on the money the artist will spend, and the oldies music, are better in terms of arrangement and group works.”

Ethiopian music these days, badly needs a composer, as I know a composer is not a single person dealing with a computer, it is a science itself”.

He has long served AAU as a teacher. He calls for added attention to art on the part of the society and the government. All members of the country needs art for entertainment on top of shaping the mind set of the citizenry. And for those art school who are in danger of disappearing, the government should do something,because music needs everyone, as everyone needs music ” he added.

The music school named after the legendary Ethiopian princess, Aida, who went to Egypt to rescue her father, and fall in love with the Egyptian prince. After all,as it is said, they were both killed for love. Depending on this story, Giuseppe Verdi,Italian music composer wrote, a musical drama called Aida opera.

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