Ten-year-old Africa is one of our new 2019-23 Scholars and is a very gifted musician. She is making brilliant progress on the saxophone thanks to her hard work and dedication, and she is enjoying playing with the Haringey Training Wind Band. She impressed us at Awards Day back in September and now we have received a glowing mid-year report from her teacher. We wish her the best of luck with preparing for her Grade 1 next term. Africa is also a talented singer, performing regularly at church, and we were delighted to hear that she gives up her lunchtime once a week to lead a group of younger singers at her primary school!
Africa with a fellow Haringey Scholar at their Awards Day in September
We asked Africa a few questions about her musical journey so far. Her answers have been translated from Spanish by our Programmes Manager, Georgina Skinner.
Why did you decide to play the saxophone?
The truth is it’s quite strange, so my music lessons at school were on the clarinet. Although there are those who say that coincidences don’t exist, in my case I am convinced that they exist and I will tell you why. At the age of 3 I got my first soprano saxophone as a gift from my uncle. His biggest wish was that I would be a good saxophone player. I am sure that with my effort, good practice and with help from my teachers I can be very brilliant.
Have you had any cool musical experiences?
Yes, of course! My first musical experiences were when I was in my mum’s tummy and it moves me every time my parents remind me. I am very lucky to have parents who like music and they live to share the rhythms of their native Colombia. Since I was two years old I have participated in lots of different music & folk festivals in my country, Spain. There were moments I will never forget, I remember when I arrived to live here in London, I did not know how to speak any English but the first song I learnt to sing was ‘Stand by me.’ When I had to sing it I was trembling more than a flan! In 2015 I joined a choir of which I am still a part and in 2018 we were invited, through Haringey Music to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, in 2019 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and in 2020 to the O2 Arena for ‘Young Voices.’ It is because of this that I try to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity so my parents can feel more and more proud of me.
What is your favourite thing to play on the saxophone?
I really enjoy listening to all types of rhythms and pieces of music. But I should admit that I absolutely love Caribbean rhythms. Above all, when I see that the public gets involved in the show, those moments are great and when they are accompanied by lots of applause it is the best!
Did you enjoy your first Playing Day as a London Music Fund Scholar?
I think to say I enjoyed it is too small. There aren’t words to describe how I felt. On this day I have felt a whole range of wonderful feelings, I felt like I was in the clouds. More than anything to have had the joy of knowing more boys and girls who are the same as me: with lots of excitement and joy about entering this exciting musical world. I learnt lots of new things, above all, tricks and musical techniques that will be useful with my instrument and I am sure they will give good results. The most important thing is to enjoy what I am doing, also that I should always have a good, positive and insistent attitude. Also I should always treat my instrument with love because through this I can share joy and good moments.
Do you have a musical role model or a famous musician who inspires you?
All musicians, on my part, deserve my respect and admiration, since each one, according to his style has made his life a musical note. Also, in my opinion Candy Dulfer is fantastic.
What is your favourite kind of music to play?
I am dedicated to playing jazz, blues and not forgetting Latin rhythms!
What are you most looking forward o during the coming year as a London Music Fund Scholar?
I hope to take advantage of as many opportunities that are given to me and above all through my achievements give my mother lots of joy to improve her health. I am very grateful to you for realising the dream of so many children. For this and much more, thank you London Music Fund!
Africa at the 2019 Awards Day with our Ambassador, Julian Bliss