Guguletu Clinics 2012 CTIJF

Jim Odgren works with talented young musicians from Guguletu as part of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

When the 6-year old trumpeter walked up on stage with this fellow band mates, we thought is was pretty cool.  When he played the melody along with the band, we smiled with surprise.  When he took chorus after chorus on a traditional South African tune our minds reeled at the potential.

How was it possible that this young boy, growing up in a place that affords so little in opportunity has been able to accomplish all that he has in so short a time?

This was the scene we encountered as we began our clinics for the Training and Development Program component of the 2012 Cape Town International Jazz Festival in the township of Guguletu.  In a packed-to-capacity community center hall, Jim led a two-hour session that feature a number of groups from the township.  We jammed with the students.  They taught us a few of their tunes, and we shared some of what we know.  Walking out of the building, we were left speechless.  My guess is that he was thinking what I was thinking.  You cannot stop the music.  It will always find a way.

Through my work in the Office of International Programs, I am given many opportunities to be out on the road for the college.  We take the very best of the college with us to share what Berklee does and we seek to learn from our experiences — bringing that experience back to Boston.  We visit colleges, universities, technical institutes and festivals.  We hold a variety of events covering a range of musical topics.  We do this to make the personal and musical connection.  At the end of the day, an experience like the one we had in Guguletu is where it is at.  It is where the music counts.