Zimbabwe College of Music empowers female artistes

The following article was originally published in NewsDay

29 May 2015

Written by Winstone Antonio

ZIMBABWE College of Music executive director Rachel Jera-Chigwanda has challenged female musicians to scale greater heights and go beyond playing second fiddle merely as dancers and backing vocalists in male-led bands.

Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of a concert featuring upcoming female musicians undertaking instrument lessons at the Zimbabwe College of Music, Jera-Chigwanda said women should develop self-confidence and gun for honours as they developed their careers in music.

“After realising that a lot of women have not risen to the top tiers in music bands as they are just dancers and backing vocalists, we decided to come up with a programme aimed at empowering them to play instruments,” Chigwanda said.

She bemoaned that female musicians often lingered in the background with men playing the dominant role in groups.

“The reality of the situation today is that female musicians remain remarkably more isolated as men occupy better posts in a band which we are saying must change and women must be empowered to be instrumentalists,” she said.

About 120 upcoming female musicians are taking lessons in different music instruments at the Zimbabwe College of Music courtesy of the college’s partnership with Culture Fund of Zimbabwe and Swedish Embassy.

“We had a talent search in different suburbs in the capital and after identifying the potential candidates lessons then commenced,” Jera-Chigwanda said.

“Our hope is that after this training these females will be able to showcase their talent and prove that women can also do it matching their male counterparts.”

Students undergoing the training applauded the institution for coming up with such a programme aimed at equipping them with the relevant skills.

“For long I have wanted to be an instrumentalist, but it was hard for me to get someone who would show me the ropes. I am happy that that the Zimbabwe College of Music has afforded me the opportunity through this programme,” said Nicholar Mutuma.

“As women we should challenge men in terms of playing instruments rather than just being recruited as dancers or backing vocalists.”

Another student, Tanya Charingira, said the programme had helped her to have self-confidence on the stage.

“I want to pursue music as a career and being part of this programme has helped me understand how to conduct myself while on stage as a professional artiste,” she said.

The second phase of the concert will be held on June 4 at the same venue, marking the end of the programme.