Rarely do you get discussions on mbira playing and disability. Out of pure luck I bumped into Ticha Muzavazi just over four years ago and had very enlightening discussion on the subject. Thanks to social media we have managed to keep in touch and I asked him for a small introduction to his work of teaching disabled children to play mbira. He specialises in teaching and making nyunga nyunga.
About Ticha Muzavazi
My name is Trust Mutekwa. I got the Ticha Muzavazi alias from being an “artist-teacher who talks”- poet. I am an artist who is active in mbira teaching, writing, drawing, acting, story-telling and fabric design.
I am a specialist teacher for the blind based at St. Giles Special School in Milton Park- Harare. I joined the school in January 2008 with a set of 10 mbira units to start a musical initiative with the pupils who had shown me immense passion for music. The mbiras were donated by Save the Children.
As the mbiras deteriorated, I revisited the skills I had in mbira tuning and repairs and became a mbira maker and established a mbira workshop to sustain the arts initiative. I designed mbiras to suit pupils with various abilities and/or disabilities. So far I have;
- a mbira for a pupil who cannot use both hands.
- a mbira for the left-handed and
- mbiras in various pitchings to suit the children’s projections- as may be determined by various impairments.
Ticha Muzavazi’s mbiras and his unique teaching approaches have drawn the attention of mbira students, music lecturers and every musician who is active with the mbira in Zimbabwe.
Together with his pupils from St. Giles they have produced an 8-track musical album, Stitches. As his music students leave St Giles primary school for high school, Ticha Muzavazi helps establish mbira clubs in their new schools. As a result of his hard work teaching music to the disabled, he has become a director and schools coordinator for the Special Schools Arts Festival for children with disabilities in Zimbabwe. The Special Schools Arts Festival has become an annual event in which pupils showcase their mbira skills among other art skills and talents.
Here is a short clip from the launch of Stitches
This article is a short introduction to the subject of mbira and disability from the experiences of Ticha Muzavazi. If you would like to contribute to the discussion please either put comments in the reply box below or send in a blog!
Keep your heads up for posts from the Special Schools Arts Festival in June!