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Zambia Chronicles 2023 - Day 6 - back to basics - The Blues

The Scat Cat Sessions make their Zambian début!

A little less talk and a little more action  - finally a day full of music making!

Service Above Self

We pull into the solwezi Teacher training College and are greeted by their school motto writ large - Service Above Self. A message with which I’m personally closely aligned, and which therefore bodes well.

We meet with the school’s music education specialist who explains that we’ll actually be working with folks who are training to be elementary school music educators. My wheel house!

Technical difficulties? No problem!

We seem to be one adapter short of a working keyboard and sound system… but the room isn’t so big so “Why don’t I just dive in with the students while you all sort out the tech problem?”

Within minutes, I’ve got these future educators counting out a 12 bar blues, singing chord roots, and scatting the C-Jam Blues!

The hour flies by, but as they say - always leave ‘em wanting more 😉 In any case, I’m sure we’ve left them with something useful to take forward into their own music teaching adventures.

And now for something completely different - and yet the same

The afternoon’s session is at Trident College - an enormous modern establishment created a decade ago to house and educate the children of the province’s elite (mainly from the burgeoning mining industry).

Built on the English model - complete with tennis courts and cricket and rugby pitches - Daniel remarks that he nearly feels like he’s  back at school in Australia.

We’re greeted by Kate Cowling the school’s Deputy Head of Mathematics who walks us across the impeccable grounds to the brand new auditorium. There we're introduced to the (relatively) new music teacher Mr. Owen Chimuka . Our eyes all light up when we learns that we’re ALL jazz musicians. This should be extra fun for us as well as the kids!

Duo imprévu

While we’re waiting to convene, Daniel and Owen sit down together at the beautiful grand piano for a spontaneous 4-handed rendition of “There Will Never Be Another You”. Despite it being a terrible key for singing, I jump in on the last time through, and we finish with a big grin, grateful for some happy music making.


We open the session proper with a mini concert, by way of introduction. And since nearly everyone in attendance is also studying French, we throw in a nod to our adopted home with “Autumn Leaves (Les feuilles mortes)”.

Scat Cat Session

Mr. Chimuka's students are bright eyed and sharp - so in short order we take them through the paces of The Blues with relative ease. This means we have enough time to give them a shot at doing their own scat conversations. Being teenagers, some are more uninhibited than others… but everyone’s a good sport and takes a turn or two.

We close out with another rendition of There Will Never Be Another You in the company of Mr. Chimuka (I mean, it’s a perfect closer!). I have a strong feeling that we’ve just helped raise his “cool factor” among his students and also helped pave the way for him to carry this jazz torch in his teachings.

The students plead with their teachers to allow them to serenade us before we leave, which I take as a sign we’ve made the desired impact.

Education Matters

All in all, the day was a happy success - and a case study in the importance of funding education. The same material was received with equal enthusiasm and intelligence by both publics, however the ressource gap clearly leads to vast differences in outcomes.

We’ve got more work to do, people! 💜🎶


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