Imuka Singers visit REAMS

The Imuka Singers, a 15-person-choir from East Africa, treated Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School (REAMS) students to a concert and lessons on Dec. 6.

Kindergartener McKenna Bernard joins the Imuka Singers in a cultural dance.

Kindergartener McKenna Bernard joins the Imuka Singers in a cultural dance.

Made up of highly talented musicians and dancers from community groups from the northwestern shores of Lake Victoria, the Imuka Singers shared rare singing techniques, electrifying choreography, hand drumming and multiple percussions, as well as traditional dancing techniques that are adopted from the oldest East African folk songs and dances. During their sessions for each grade level, students were able to experience additional songs and movement. The singers also shared with the students that they knew 700 songs and 200 dances in a question and answer session.

The Imuka Singers spent time during the day with each grade level sharing songs and movement.

The Imuka Singers spent time during the day with each grade level sharing songs and movement.

To prepare for this day, students and staff collaborated in many ways. They studied the Tanzanian culture and learned about their lifestyle including weather and city life. Some of the art classes created African Modern textile patterns and assembled them together to look like a quilt. The older students learned the Tanzanian National Anthem and all students learned a few phrases in Swahili so they were able to welcome the singers in their native language. Principal Brenda Petersmeyer shared that she was extremely proud of the staff and students for the learning and excitement that went into a visit such as this one.

Director Smart Baitani shares his love of the Tanzanian culture through music.

Director Smart Baitani shares his love of the Tanzanian culture through music.

“The experience has a much larger impact on students when they have studied the many aspects of a culture that is different than what they are used to on a daily basis,” said Petersmeyer.

Third grade students had an opportunity to serve lunch to the choir while staff members hosted a reception for the singers at the end of the day.

Music Teacher and Arts Coordinator Darren Eliason shared of the experience, “It was amazing to see so many beaming smiles on the students’ faces. It was obvious that students really enjoyed the music, the movement, and learning about another culture. We are very fortunate at REAMS to immerse ourselves in our learning in and through the arts.”

The director of the Imuka Singers shared with fourth and fifth grade students what an honor it was to hear the students sing the Tanzania National Anthem.

For more information on the Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School program, call 763-477-5837.

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