A year of milestones and achievements for Music Crossroads!

  • 6 months ago

Since JM International founded Music Crossroads in 1995, 150,000 young musicians have been involved in the programme and more than a million audiences in southern Africa have been reached. Since then, many things have changed, such as the growth of ways to reach out to audiences. This includes the various social media channels JMI employs (this year, reaching a total of 450,000 people). However, the core values of Music Crossroads have not changed. The programme is continuously dedicated to developing the music education sector in the southern African region, helping to foster the talent of thousands of young musicians. This years’ achievements moved Music Crossroads one step further towards achieving this mission.

5,800 direct beneficiaries were reached through Music Crossroads activities this year. Music Crossroads stands for inclusivity, and twenty of these beneficiaries included young people with physical and mental disabilities. As always, an emphasis was placed on gender balance and equality, and 47% of these beneficiaries were female. In fact, female-targeted activities were some of the most successful activities this year. Projects included mentoring eleven girls comprising The Daughters Band in Malawi, the running of the LOUD camp which involved fourty girls in Mozambique, and increasing the visibility of female musicians on digital platforms through the Digital Training for Female Musicians programme in Zimbabwe. In total, 200 young women directly participated in Music Crossroads activities.

The Music Crossroads Academies, which support young musicians in their musical careers, opened in 2013 in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. This academic year 2021/2022, 280 students were enrolled on courses across these three countries. The educational initiative of Music Crossroads did not slow down from there. Despite restrictions caused by the pandemic from October 2021 to January 2022, ten countries from around the globe participated in an online Creative Training Campus. Embracing the new technological resources available, Music Crossroads was able to train 260 participants through hybrid lessons. This included online video lessons and three different workshops, held in six different locations, thanks to peer trainers in the target countries. This programme is still running and hopes to reach out to a large online audience with performances in the coming weeks. These online trainings, despite the various challenges participants faced, have so far been a resounding success. The Creative Corners project now implemented in all three Academies has similarly utilised modern technology and holistic design. This pilot project aims to bring an innovative new approach to music education, giving children free access to software and games, introducing them to a wealth of music knowledge, and empowering their creativity and intellect. Music Crossroads is continuously expanding, showing that its capabilities are as wide as the wealth of tools available to it.

In October of 2021, the three Music Crossroads Academies confirmed funding for the establishment of a Music Business School in each country. This eighteen month long project will facilitate the establishment of a high-quality curriculum covering a wide spectrum of the music business elements across the music business value chain and aims to produce competent music professionals who are better able to conduct business and improve sales for their various music business ventures in the respective countries. These advances signal great future progress in music education and the music business in the southern region.

This year, JMI has been delighted to see Music Crossroads delving deeper into JMI projects, with Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe becoming involved in Imagine and Ethno. This year Ethno was held in the region twice, once in Malawi and once in Mozambique. Music Crossroads Academies in Mozambique and Malawi have also participated in inter-academy exchanges through the MOVE Project, fully back in action following the pandemic. Excitingly, the Malawi chairmanship of the Southern African Development Cooperation has seen Music Crossroads provide musical and dance presentations for SADC events. The Daughters Band, The Hear Us Children and The MCA Teachers Band have made a great impression and Music Crossroads has even been invited to perform before the head of state at State House!

Many meaningful partnerships have also been forged this year with southern African universities. Firstly, the University of Zimbabwe hosted the Music Crossroads Academy’s annual graduation ceremony. A total of seventy two successful students from the 2019 and 2020 intakes of the programme graduated, composed of fifty-five men and seventeen women. The current partnership between the University and Music Crossroads is set to benefit about 500 students enrolled with the University department and about 90 students from the academy each year through the sharing of academic and technical fields of expertise. The Malawi University of Science and Technology also recognised Music Crossroads this year. Following several years of discussions, the University finally enrolled an academy graduate straight into second year of the BA in Musicology. This milestone shines a light on the legitimacy and distinction of the initial training provided in Music Crossroads Academies.

Overall, all three Music Crossroads Academies have been gaining an increasingly better reputation in their respective countries and are becoming some of the most sought after training institutions for the musical and technical field of the creative sector. Many significant milestones this year promise to open up opportunities for Music Crossroads to advance its goals in sustainability further. It looks like there is no stopping the soaring profile of the many Music Crossroads programmes. Despite many challenges and hurdles that face participants in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, their success has proven the huge capacity for development and progress in the creative sector of the southern African region. This year has certainly been a year of achievements, paving the way for an even brighter future for Music Crossroads!