A talented graduate from the University of Leeds has started a musical education project to enrich the lives of disadvantaged children in India.
Kerrie Smith, from Ashford, Kent, who graduated in 2013 with a First Class Ba(Hons) in Popular and World Musics, is spending nine months developing a music programme at a school in the southern city of Bangalore.
On arrival, Kerrie discovered that music is not generally part of the Indian school curriculum, which means many children have no previous musical education.
She now teaches drums, guitar and keyboard and provides basic music lessons to disadvantaged students of both primary and secondary school age.
“Music education is enormously important in terms of communication skills, personal and emotional development,” she said.
“Throughout my touching experience here I have witnessed music operate as an artistic avenue for disadvantaged children to express creativity and advance their confidence.
“Teaching children both to share and have faith in their ideas grants an immense sense of achievement and fulfilment.”
The 22-year-old says her aim is to write a full music curriculum in which she can hand on to a local volunteer to ensure the project continues after her return home.
A fundraising appeal has already raised almost £3,000 towards the project, which will also buy more instruments for the music classes and help her develop a programme specifically aimed at children at the school with learning and physical disabilities.
It is also hoped that partnerships with music schools back in the UK might provide a reliable source of musical volunteers to travel to India each year and teach on the programme.
Dr Simon Warner, programme leader of the School of Music’s BA in Popular and World Musics, at the University of Leeds, said the place of education fully supports their former student and plans to work further with Kerrie in the future.
“We wish her every success in this admirable scheme. Kerrie was always a conscientious and quietly determined individual,” Dr Warner said.
“She is a superior drummer with interests in popular music in the UK and well beyond – I cannot think of a better person to spread the gospel of music-making further afield.
“As a result of Kerrie’s networking, there is even the possibility that there could be opportunities for students in our School to study abroad in the future on a Year in Industry.”
The project is based at the not-for-profit Annasawmy School, which has 650 students from impoverished backgrounds.