Mugambi Wahome is in his first year in the Financial Economics course and is among the top of his class. His grades are currently circling at 79%, and he intends to nudge them beyond the 80% mark. “I want to maintain this percentage throughout the four years that I am here. I know the course gets tougher with each semester so I have to ensure that I have high grades from the very beginning.”
He admits that the course work is demanding. “It pushes you to manage your time. You are constantly thinking about assignments, CATs, group work and presentations.” But that does not stop him from having time for music. “I am part of the university chorale and the Strathmore University orchestra which was formed recently. I am also a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya (NYOK).
A tenor complemented by the violin
He was part of the duo that sang Perfect by Ed Sheeran during last year’s convocation. He sings tenor and complements his voice with the violin. He lends his voice to the chorale and plans to use it at the 11thinternational Johannes Brahms choir festival and competition to be held in Germany in July this year.
His relationship with music began at a young age. “I used to sing all the time. My mother spotted the talent and arranged music lessons for me.” He started off with the piano, played the euphonium then developed towards the violin. “I have played the violin since form two. I did music as a subject and luckily the music department in our school was vibrant.”
The Junior Chamber Orchestra
As part of using his talents to give back to the community, Mugambi formed the Junior Chamber Orchestra (JCO) for students fresh out of high school. “We bring them in at whatever level they are and have trainings in vocals. We currently have boot camp practice for instrumentalists. The aim is to cover the grade six syllabus in order to improve our skills in readiness for a concert in April. Most orchestras in Kenya and in the world have a grade six level minimum; this is what we aspire to.”
JCO is staging a Valentine’s concert this year at the Kenya National Theatre that will conjure up childhood memories of Disney Love songs and expose the listeners to beautiful arias and duets by Mozart.
Smart time management
While in high school, he auditioned for the NYOK and secured a spot. “Being a part of this orchestra is stimulating. The level of music drives you to achieve more. For instance, you will be given a piece with the expectation of playing it at the end of the week during a concert, which is not a walk in the park. This builds our skills set.”
During weekends, in as much as there is music, he schedules in assignments so as to free up time during the week. “It’s a matter of knowing how to use the little time you have. My mother repeatedly says that the people who are busy are the ones who get the work done, not those who have plenty of free time. I usually have a four-hour break in between morning and afternoon class; instead of spending time socializing at the student centre, I use that time to study and engage in study groups so that I have time for music at the end of the day.”
He has gone through a tough period in life which brought out a strength he never thought existed. “My father passed on while I was sitting for the KCSE exams. It was something that I never imagined would happen to me; it happens to other people. When news was broken to me, I was in disbelief. Afterwards, I realised God exists and that a person is able to go through certain things they thought incapable of living through. My strength was stretched; I never knew I was that strong.”
This article was written by Wambui Gachari.
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