Moi’s love for music turned school into an entertainment powerhouse

Maxwell Muttai plays violin at Moi High School-Kabarak in 2016. [File, Standard]
An electric piano stands boldly on the far end of the music laboratory. On the wall shelves is an array of neatly organised music instruments, all carefully tucked. The piano is the latest addition to the collection. The four corners of the laboratory too, and by the windows, display sets of much heavier, richer and bulky instruments that would make any music of connoisseur excited. This, however, is not a school of music, this is a simple yet tastefully equipped music laboratory.

The neatly organised trumpets, violins, saxophones, clarinets, drums among other instruments, sourced both locally and internationally, have propelled the music department to the top over the years. “At one time, we topped the nationals for six years in a row as the best in music. We often register the highest candidates in music and still emerge the top,” says Dorothy Zalo, the music teacher.

Her job, she says, is easy: All she has to do is prescribe a musical recipe then sit back and relax as her dedicated ‘chefs’ cook and serve the thrilling musical culinary. “The results have been thrilling and the students have never disappointed. They have always sung their way to the top and always emerged giants in music and drama,” says Mrs Zalo. Zalo, who has been in the school for the past 17 years, teaching music says the number of students taking the subject as an examinable subject has grown over the years.

“Everything starts with baby steps. Almost 20 years ago, the school barely registered 10 students for music in the national exams, but currently we register the largest number of candidates in music across the country. We also have numerous instruments that have boosted the performance that we rarely score below a mean score of A-,” she says. Between 2009 and 2011, the number of students taking music ranged between five and nine both as a result of reluctance from the students to take up the subject as well as perception from the parents. The perception has however been demystified with the current students numbering over 200.

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“Most parents are now supporting their students to pursue music and the fact that the department is well equipped has also boosted the enrolment. Currently we have 25 candidates pursuing music and next year we will be having the largest batch at 38,” she says. And while the students pursue music as an examinable subject, she says the school has also managed to produce one of the best High School bands in the country.

This, she says, has also seen the school cutting costs on sourcing bands from outside on various occasion. “The school has never sourced for any band to perform during functions. Our school band performs during any event hosted within the school. This also gives them a platform to showcase their talents,” says Zalo.

She says the growth of music and the milestones the school is making is attributed the cooperation between the students and the staff as well as efforts by President Daniel Arap Moi.

“President Moi invested heavily in the music department, which has grown by leaps over the years, and molded some of the best musicians. Now more students want to pursue music as a subject and a career,” says Zalo.

Here, students wake up to music and are lulled to sleep by music. “Remove music from Kabarak and you and you will feel the emptiness. This school came to being as a result of music. Moi wanted to preserve the rich musical culture,” says Zalo.

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She says the current uptake of music both as a subject and later as a career has grown with grades constantly improving. Currently in Form One, over 100 students are pursuing music while in Form Two, close to 30 students are pursuing music. Form Three has 38 students pursuing the subject. Twenty fi ve have enrolled for music in this year’s national examinations.

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President Daniel Arap MoiKabarakMusic