Home Lifestyle Peter Nyabuto’s Journey As An Orchestra Guru And Trainer

Peter Nyabuto’s Journey As An Orchestra Guru And Trainer

by Femme Staff

Meet Peter Nyabuto, a Nairobi based musician, composer, singer, and instrumentalist. Peter’s journey is one of passion for music, having performed his way from church choir to orchestra trainer at the Safaricom Youth Orchestra. Here is his story.

Please give us a brief introduction of yourself. Your name and what you do.

My name is Peter Nyabuto, and I am a musician based in Nairobi. I am a singer, a composer, and an instrumentalist.

What does it take to do what you do? In terms of talent, education, skills, and work ethic?

It takes a lot of practice. Musicality is pretty much something that can be trained. I am lucky that I grew up around musical environments and I got both formal and informal music education. But generally, I have observed that the thing that makes the most difference is how much time one puts in practicing their skill. I get to play my instruments almost daily and that is what keeps me marketable.

When did your interest in music start and what inspired you?

I can’t tell exactly when the interest started. I grew up in a very musical church and it seemed like everyone was as fascinated by music as I was, so I never thought much about it at that point. But I remember when I joined high school and I was given an option to pick music as one of the subjects, I got very excited about it. Looking back, I feel like that’s when I became aware of how much I was interested in music. Before that I used to sing in church as a child and I was mostly fascinated by the concept of harmony. How different voices could sing together and make you feel different things, depending on how those voices are arranged.

Are you from a musical family?

I would not say my family is musical. But the church we grew up in was very involving and we could go up to four times a week which is where my music foundations come from.

What has your journey been from the point of learning and all the way to being a trainer at SYO?

At the end of high school, I joined the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya as a player. Then after graduating from there I went on to join the Nairobi Orchestra and the Kenya Music Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra. I played there for some time before going back to the National Youth Orchestra as a trainer this time. These years of experience playing and training is what made me get to be a trainer at SYO. SYO is an orchestra for Kenyan youth between ages 10 to 18. For one to be a trainer you’d have to have orchestral experience. I have been able to pick up several woodwind instruments over time, and so I was called in to be one of the woodwind tutors, specifically to grow the bassoon section.

What role has social media played in your growth in the industry?

Social media has given me a lot of exposure. I have gotten a lot of engagement and opportunities from posting my work online. I have also been able to connect with musicians who I am currently working with. I’ve also been using it to get feedback on my compositions – to see how people respond to different styles of music. Tiktok especially has been very instrumental in getting my music heard across Kenya.

You are a multi-instrument player. Is there any instrument you prefer over the other and why?

My favourite instrument has to be the human voice. I feel like most, if not all of the other instruments are made to imitate the human voice. Of the other instruments I play, I would say my preference is seasonal. I’ve been really enjoying playing the bassoon for the last couple of months. Though I feel like I’m currently going into a season of enjoying the clarinet more in the next couple of months.

What attracted you to the bassoon which is quite a rare musical instrument?

My journey with the bassoon is pretty much fate. When I joined the National Youth Orchestra I auditioned with the saxophone. But then the way orchestra music is set up, a lot of the older music does not have parts for the saxophone to play. I ended up playing the bassoon parts on my saxophone most of the time. This went on for some time then someone donated a bassoon to the orchestra. I saw this as my chance to learn the actual instrument and I took it up. And that’s how it pretty much started. I must say it was very hard to learn in the early stages but there was a lot of support from the directors Mr. Jim Pywell and Mr. Levi Wataka and the tutors which helped a lot.

How did you get to connect with Ghetto Classics?

During the earlier years of Ghetto Classics they needed instrument trainers and at that point I had been playing the saxophone and clarinet for some years. The plan was to train the first couple of students who would then go back to train the younger students. I volunteered under Dr. Benjamin Wamocho and  Mr. Lemmuel Agina who where running the programme then. We used to go to St. John School in Korogocho on weekends and do weekly lessons with the players. Later on the older players took up the training and have been keeping it going since then.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and developments in music and instruments?

I try to read articles and research papers regularly. Also as a music trainer I do regular professional development courses and workshops. Acoustic Instruments generally have not been developing much. It’s the technology around it – midi-instruments, amplification and recording, that has been having a lot of innovation lately. I have to say we don’t have a lot of research and development on Music going on around East Africa as much as other parts of the world. This could be something that should be pursued.

Do you have any standout achievements that you can highlight?

I have had a lot of highlights in my work. Just this year I am very proud of my saxophone students who won the best ensemble in the Young Musicians competition in February. Then later on in March some music I composed for the Kenyan film ‘These Are Moments To Die For’  won Best Song Globally at the Filmapalooza Festival that was hosted in Lisbon. 

What are some of the major challenges you face in your day to day work and how do you overcome them?

A lot of people are not really familiar with how the Music business works and that can cause friction at work. Music as a business seems to be an underdeveloped industry in Kenya. Also, in my teaching I have found that quite a number of students don’t understand the value of practice.

What advise would you give to aspiring musicians especially those who are looking to be proficient in instruments?

Quality instruction and quality practice. Get the best quality instruction, whether it’s on Youtube or a good music school like the Kenya Conservatoire of Music. Then get into a habit of regular practice. Daily if you can. With these two you’ll have good technique. Then start playing in public to increase your confidence. You can start playing in groups like bands and orchestras, then progress into solo performances. Regular practice should be the foundation.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.