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Choirs challenged

Many choirs are not doing much in church, in terms of being at their best when singing, Lackson Chazima, a music teacher at Music Crossroads Academy in Lilongwe, has said.
Chazima said this on Friday during a two-day training for choir masters and directors for the Southern Region held at the Blantyre Cultural Centre.
“Most of the choirs in churches these days are not vibrant when it comes to singing. Most of them are just putting CDs, miming and just dancing” Chazima said.
He said this was worrying and that it was in this vein that Music Crossroads Malawi, in partnership with Copyright Society of Malawi and Arts Sacco, decided to come up with trainings for choir masters and directors.
“The trainings are all about improving the situation because music is going down and, so, we would like to raise the standards,” Chazima said.
He said choirs need to sing with voices as well as be on top with vocal music.
“We would like to encourage choir masters and directors to do voice coaching before they sing, they should be doing body warm ups, diction exercises and tongue twisters, among others,” he said.
Chazima said the response has been overwhelming since they started the training in Lilongwe, before moving to Blantyre. Next up will be Mzuzu.
“These trainings are very important in terms of technical aspects as we are giving the choir masters and directors the skills in music reading and writing and vocal training. We are giving them the tools,” Chazima said.
He said, for choirs to do better, they also need to master the basics of breath control, voice projection and how to tune a choir.
“Actually, today, before starting everything, we auditioned the team to check on their levels— some of the conductors are beginners, some intermediate and very few advanced— so it was difficult but we managed to divide them into groups,” he said.
Chazima facilitated the training alongside fellow music teacher at Music Crossroads Academy Gladson Msendera.
Arts Sacco Vice President, Gloria Manong’a, who was the guest of honour, said she was impressed with the participation of the choirs although she was quick to point out that they wanted more.
“These trainings are [organised] for choirs in the country to learn different tools to improve their music. I believe that music heals but, for music to heal, it has to be good,” Manong’a said.
Manong’a, who is a renowned gospel singer, said they would conduct a competition in all the regions before the national competition.
She also said that, through the project, Arts Sacco wants to encourage artists to join Arts Sacco as part of saving money.
“We want to promote culture of saving. Most artists have failed to develop because of lack of funds but, with Arts Sacco, they can save money; hence, putting up these trainings,” Manong’a said.
She said they were happy with the progress Arts Sacco was making.
“Artists are joining, it’s a new born Sacco which started 2014 and many are joining but choirs have not been forthcoming,” she observed.
Manong’a said the competition will see the winner at national level walking away with K1 million while the second and third will receive K500,000 and K250,000 respectively.
Manong’a said the Choral music competition is open to all choirs in the country, adding that the regional tussle will select the finest to compete on national level.

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