More than just music

Emily Dangwa talks on the importance of attending a musical school to hone your singing craft.

05 October 2018 | Art and Entertainment

Almost everyone enjoys music- whether it’s listening to it, singing, or playing a musical instrument. Music is important and can carry us through our lives. For example, when one wants to relax, you listen to instrumentals. When at a party, house music is a necessity to get everyone in the mood. When one is upset, rock or hip-hop help a lot to get back their composure. There are a lot of things that go into making a typical three-minute song which includes manpower and knowledge. Yet, we live in a society that does not believe in one going to a music school to get training on how to make the one thing that can offer comfort - music.

There are more options for someone with a music degree than you probably realise. Performing and teaching are the two most common careers in music, but those alone do not cover what music majors can pursue once they graduate. Emily Dangwa, a Namibian-based postgraduate music degree holder says attending music school helps one greatly to succeed in their career.

Dangwa started her career at age 19 at the Ladybird International Arts Academy in Ladybrand. She then carried on completing her opera studies with distinction in Singer’s Theatre and also her postgraduate degree in Music Performance from the University of Cape Town in 2015. Dangwa, who is an opera singer, says she was a pop and RnB singer, but she got to school and heard opera students singing and fell in love immediately.

“I heard them singing and I said to myself I want to be and sound just like that and here I am today. I believe opera can become prominent just like rap. I am enjoying it so far and what satisfies me is the fact that there are people who enjoy my voice. I live for that,” she said.

Today Dangwa runs her own music academy (ED Music Academy) with the motto ‘Talent without discipline is nothing’. The artist says that she wants to normalise arts as a career that can be accepted in society. Dangwa has also opened her company ED Music Production based in Windhoek where she focuses on putting on classical performances where she collaborates with various professional musicians; this company has now expanded to ED Music Academy that focuses on music education.

“When you are born in Africa, arts are not seen as a career but it has to be developed. In Europe, kids are being groomed in such a way that they can be artists or white colour workers. In fact, they easily have doctors who can play the piano which is very different from home,” she said. She currently has 11 students whom she does vocal training with. Her students range in genres from gospel, Afro pop and pop. “The funny thing is I am an opera artist but none of my artists are because singing is the same. I use the same fundamentals on all of them but work on each of them to bring their personalities out. I teach them how to find their own voices and how to use it. Training will take one further than their bathrooms, or Namibia. There are certain standards and one way to get them is through training.”

According to the songbird, for arts to be recognised as a career like any other, training needs to be offered. She recalls having to audition to get accepted into school in order to be accepted into college. Dangwa says going to music school is important for one to able to know theory, to be taught how to read notes, and communicate on international level with other artists.

“Your voice is a muscle and if it is not trained, you will not be able to hold your breath for long. That’s why vocal training is important and you can get this at a music school. Music school helps build technique and discipline to deliver your artwork - not just lip sync, but deliver true art. This is why I believe education is important,” she said.

Dangwa says for one to excel in any musical genre, lessons are necessary to help in things like capturing their audience’s attention. “This is so you can build stamina, so you can be heard and not mumble your lyrics, so you can learn stage presence and to perfect your production. It doesn’t matter if you rap, sing opera or do RnB. Training is crucial.”

Dangwa recently launched her debut work titled the Confessions of Women. She will be having a concert on 2 November and she plans on releasing a fusion album next year. She urges artists to put time, money and effort in their work always. She concluded by advising artists to never apologise for their work and never to forget who they were before the fame.

“I want to fuse as many genres I can with my classical voice on top of that. It’s very interesting and hopefully people will love it,” she said.

June Shimuoshili

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