Musical beats to overcome corona
Fourteen-year-old Angel Murugi and her sister Breanna Njeri, 10, are using music to raise awareness about the pandemic.
Harriet James @harriet86jim
As public conversations around Covid-19 increase, most parents worry about how to make the complex information on the virus understandable to their children.
Parents, as well as other trusted adults can play a significant function in assisting children make sense of what they hear in a way that is truthful, accurate and in a manner that reduces anxiety or fear.
Some are using music to spread this message. Gospel artiste Monicah Nyambura and her husband, Mike Kamunya, helped their two daughters not only understand the pandemic, but also teach others.
The girls; Angel Murugi (14 years) and Breanna Njeri (10 years), sang a song on corona, which the parents published on their Facebook page.
“We didn’t anticipate the song would go viral. We just assisted them in writing the song.
Breanna learnt about coronavirus from news while Angel learnt about it from school when they had to abruptly go home before official end of term one,” says their father.
With the help of their mother who worked on the lyrics, their father who played the background keyboard music, it took two hours for them to work on the song and record.
“Since it’s a new virus and we still don’t have treatment nor vaccine yet, we need to teach people to observe all the precautions outlined by the health experts and government.
We feel that music is one of the ways in which our children can not only connect with other children, but adults in their own special way,” says Monicah
Since they were young, the two have been inspired to love music by their mother and other gospel artistes like Sinach. Their father too is into music, playing keyboard and drums.
“They would easily memorise their mum’s as well as Sinach’s and Evelyn Wanjiru’s songs easily and they started composing their own.
We obviously streamlined the wordings and practiced at home,” says Mike.
A study by the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute in 2016 discovered that musical experiences in childhood can actually accelerate brain development, especially in language acquisition as well as reading skills.
According to US National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM Foundation), parents who allow their children learn an instrument can advance their mathematical learning and even increase their school scores.
Music has been said to ignite all areas of child skills as well as development like social-emotional, motor, language, intellectual and overall literacy.
“Music is all about passion. In most instances, it’s up to the parents with musical children, to nurture that passion in age-appropriate ways and, more importantly, ways that are geared towards them,” says Tabitha Mwai, a child psychologist.
According to her, music helps the child’s body and mind work together and exposing children to music during early development assists them learn the sounds and meanings of words.
For children and adults, music not only helps in strengthening memory skills, but also build motor skills while allowing them to practice self-expression when combined with dancing.
The two sisters have participated in musical festivals and in 2018, Breanna scooped the top prize in her shairi.
Monicah and her husband who have been married for 17 years feel that the achievement is not only awesome in helping their children know their purpose, but also it’s a gift from God in serving humanity.
However, the two realise that it’s a huge responsibility to groom the two and keep them grounded.
“It’s a new experience, but we are learning the ropes. We always remind them that singing is a gift from God and that a talent is only 10 per cent while 90per cent is personal discipline and effort. I also encourage them to continually pray,” says Monicah
When it comes to balancing between school and music, the two have ensured that their daughters perform well in school and that they don’t miss their classes.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced them to do homeschooling and though it’s been tough being parents and teachers at the same time, they are glad that their school is supportive.
“We have an app where teachers post assignments and we post the completed ones.
Initially, it was a happy moment, but they currently miss their teachers and fellow students, says Mike.
“It’s tough since this is a new experience for us. Time keeping is a challenge, but luckily they are obedient, especially when it comes to TV, which gets switched on after 4pm.
It feels good that people appreciate their talents. I thank God for this and hope that my two daughters continue to be a blessing to others and serve God with their gifts,” says Monicah.