Exploits of Faith Mussa as an artist are well documented even before his present hit *Mdidi*. He used to play a guitar with a family gospel singing group, the Mussa Family, back in the 1990s.
The group was famous around 1997/98 with several songs, including the hit *Pokumbukira Mtandawo*.
But the singer has rekindled such memories with his innovative mind that has seen him come up with unique compositions that have gripped music lovers.
But to craft such offerings as *Mdidi* and *Desperate* has not come on a silver platter.
“It’s something that has taken me years. I have been investing a lot in music books and I have been exposed to a lot of music institutions such as the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Department of Arts in Norway,” he says.
To break into such reputable institutions where he has undergone several music short courses, the youthful musician had first of all to go through a frustrating college life that denied him an opportunity to study a course of his choice.
In 2003, he says he had been picked to undertake a Bachelor of Arts (Humanities) Degree at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi. He says his intention was to study music and specialise in the guitar.
“But I was forced to switch to sciences after noticing that the college had no guitar tutor,” he says.
Such gaps, and a conviction that artists need to undergo, at least, basic trainings in music have prompted him to open the Mussa Family Music School in Lilongwe.
“It’s one thing to have the talent and another thing to improve it. When one wants to develop, or fuse the sounds, we need to know something about music. And that can be done through a formal classroom,” he says.
That is why at the moment the country has witnessed a proliferation of music training institutions as more and more people have understood the importance of formal music education.
Some of the training institutions include Music Crossroads Academy, Goyim Music and Arts Academy, Lilongwe Music Academy, Lusubilo Music Centre, Chechamba Music School, Andiamo Music School, among others.
These add up to the established Chancellor College’s Fine and Performing Arts Department. Also in the offing is the music department at the newly opened Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must).
However, these are still inadequate to meet the demand for music education as government is failing to introduce music lessons in public schools due to lack of teachers.
Again, where educational opportunities do exist, there is often poor coordination between music education institutions, meaning that gaps exist between the provision of very basic and of highly specialised music education.
Private music institutions, most of the time, typically charge students high attendance fees, making them prohibitively expensive for poor and marginalised musicians from rural areas.
Some of the schools have even subjected learners to inhumane conditions whereas others award unrecognised certificates to learners after four years of study. This often leads to high dropout rates and poor overall results.
Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) president the Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango admits that his union is aware of some of these challenges.
He says most of these problems are there because many music institutions in the country are not accredited to offer higher qualifications in music.
“Most of the training institutions lack qualified personnel such that some of the teachers have no degrees. What is needed is to make sure that their teachers are upgraded to degree level,” he says.
Mhango says the country has several opportunities for those who studied music.
“For example, there is a music curriculum that was developed a long time ago for primary and [secondary] schools, but it can’t be offered because of lack of teachers. We need more qualified teachers,” he says.
He says for the talented musicians, they also need to take up lessons in music if they are to communicate effectively with their audiences.
“We may have the talent, but music is a global language which is written on paper. We need to study it if we are to communicate with others,” he says.
Mussa agrees. He says music trainings have enriched his understanding of music to compose songs such as *Desperate* and *Mdidi* which defy borders as well as religious and cultural barriers.
“We need to invest time and knowledge in music. It makes our music to become relevant to our audience; whereby, we are able to fuse and blend genres and cultures to come up with aesthetic music sound,” he says.
However, musician Malala says government is not proactive in advancing music as a subject to make sure that the youths utilise their potential. He says as a result, most musicians in the country learn music the hard way to make their way to the top in the industry.
“It’s a shame we don’t have many arts centres or music schools we need for the youths to realise their music potentials.
“Does it make sense that we should keep letting the youths earn their status this hard way? Malawi is blessed with so many youths with huge potential in music. We need to create an environment where they can achieve their goals,” he says.