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Musicians complain of being sidelined

Some musicians have come out to complain that the Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) body sidelines them when it comes to trainings and workshops.

This comes barely two days after Mum held a choral music and voice workshop in Balaka where close to 30 members attended.

“Some of us have been members of Mum throughout but we are sidelined which is not good. Mum executive should not play double standards when it is holding workshops, it need not look at names because we are all members and we need to benefit to improve our skills,” said a singer and guitarist, who did not want to be named.

Veteran musician, Wallace Ngoma, also wrote on the Southern Chapter social forum questioning the criteria used in selecting members to attend trainings and workshops.

Another artist also noted that many of the musicians who attend the workshops are the very same names and that some of them have been attending one workshop after the other not giving a chance to others.

“Mum is for each and every member whether well-known or not. As long as you are a member, you need to benefit. Let’s not concentrate on names but we should concentrate on imparting skills to all the members and in that way, our music will grow,” the artist said.

But Mum President, Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, said yesterday, they do not overlook anyone and that the workshops target all members.

“We don’t overlook anyone. Our criterion is simple, paid-up members with some products to sell are given priority. We also make sure that all chapters are well represented,” Mhango said.

He added that members have to understand that not everyone can attend trainings and workshops since “our budget is limited due to donor demands.”

“For instance-the workshops which we have just held, we did not have enough funding and so we could not pick everyone. The workshops were funded by the Swedish Music Fund (SMF),” he said.

Mhango said when members were being selected for the just-ended workshops, a proposal was made that chapter leaders should choose participants “but we as national executive are mandated to do that and can delegate chapters to do that if we so wish.”

“Let people be patient and their time will come, otherwise we will try as much to source more funding for the growth of the music industry,” he said.

Some members have also complained that Mhango, as a renowned gospel musician, gives priority to fellow gospel artists compared to secular.

But Mhango has insisted that Mum is for all musicians and that they are all one regardless of whether one is secular or gospel.

Commenting on the workshops, Mhango described the choral music and voice gathering in Balaka as fruitful.

“This training was spearheaded by Mum and was facilitated by Lackson Chazima of Music Crossroads and myself. We tackled lots of areas including ear training, vocal gymnastics, conduction patterns, group management and leadership skills,” he said.

The Mum president also said the training in Balaka tackled the art of composition and discouraged musicians from copying other peoples work with gospel musicians as the main culprits.

Mum also held another workshop in Salima on web marketing and the facilitator was Timothy Mtilosanje from Malawimusic.com, who tackled various topics as regards the technological world and how they can succeed in selling music online.

Meanwhile, some artists have since asked Mum to be doing the trainings periodically with funds permitting.

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