Music, a very present art, but still too little structured in Mayotte

The island of perfumes boasts a wealth of traditional music, some of which is unique to the region. However, very few structures on the island teach this art and Musique à Mayotte, created in 1998, remains to this day the only music school in the territory. Cécile Bruckert, the director, coordinates a team of 16 employees responsible for providing musical training to children and adults. A very small structure for a territory of almost 300,000 inhabitants.

Located at the top of the neighborhood of the hundred villas, on the corner of the great curve towards Cavani, the music school of Mayotte is quite discreet. It must be said that originally the building was a simple single-family home, transformed into an associative music school at the end of the 90s under the impulse of three metropolitan families. “At that time there was no music teaching structure in the territory and we wanted our children to be able to continue their training in this area”says Cécile Bruckert, the director and the only co-founder of the association who has remained on the island. “Since then, the school has changed a lot and now welcomes a majority of students from Mayotte whose parents have become aware of the importance of music education”continues the one who compares music with ” a medicine “. “Music, and more generally culture, can remedy many things in the emotional, sociological and identity domains. It is an international language that also allows you to work on mathematics. »

Unfortunately, Cécile Bruckert is forced to point out that “The communities have not decided to turn it into a social issue”. Music, almost always associated with dance, however, has always been very present on the island through the debaa, the chigoma or the wadaha to name just these three examples. Institutions have other priorities and cultural fields are often relegated to the background. No matter: the association Music in Mayotte continues to advance its pawns to advance the teaching of music supported in this by the direction of arts and culture (DAC). “In 2017 we signed the first triennial agreement with the DAC for the democratization of teaching”explains the manager. Musique à Mayotte has thus contributed to launching the musical option at the M’Gombani secondary school and provides musical education to the children of the Boboka primary school (Mamoudzou center) of CE1. “These establishments were the closest physically to our school and are still relatively reasonable in terms of the number of students. As a small structure, unfortunately we cannot deploy everywhere, but we still reach around 300 children”welcomes Cécile Bruckert.

A huge potential of musicians on the island

“There is enormous potential for musicians on the island, but only three or four have managed to follow the essential musical training to become known internationally”, laments the director of the music school. It must be said that Mayotte is a culture of oral tradition and that the music was not originally written. “Memorizing is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it allows a form of freedom, of improvisation as well as a sense of collective play, but the risk is to see the heritage memorized over the generations disappear if the transmission is not carried out. does. done more »she explains. “That is why we strongly encourage musicians to learn to read and write music and why we investigate the traditional music of the island. »

If the school offers a classical and jazz education “as in the conservatory” (Musique à Mayotte is affiliated with the musical confederation of France), the association is part of its regional environment with teachers from all over the southwestern area of ​​the Indian Ocean. If it is clear that there are similarities between the music of the region and the music of Mayotte, the 101the The department also has a unique musical heritage that is not found in the other islands of the Comoros archipelago or in Zanzibar, such as the debaa, for example. For many years, the structure has participated in the preservation of musical heritage, in particular by collecting recordings. “Some things have already been lost with the passing of the elders. Unfortunately, the urgency of heritage preservation was not perceived in time”, laments Cecile Bruckert. The research work, also supported by the DAC, continues however and, in the Music room of Mayotte, there is already a nice collection of local instruments. A nursery has even been enabled to produce the raw materials necessary for its manufacture in the association’s garden and production workshops are regularly organized with the students of the school.

In the long term, the musical training work offered by Musique à Mayotte aims to link Mayotte music to international music by fixing it in written form (without neglecting improvisation) and contributing to the professionalization of musicians. “We want to show the musicians of Mayotte that it is possible to live from their art, even if it is still a difficult path”The director declares that, since 1998, he has perceived a clear change in mentalities. “Mahoese’s parents now have another look at music. Before, the notion of “haram” was a powerful brake on the education of children, especially girls whose parents had great difficulty in allowing them to play on stage. Now, mentalities have relaxed, especially because the Mahorais have understood that our school fully integrates their culture”Cecile Bruckert concludes.

The importance of the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers

Michel Mey, the Indian Ocean regional director of Sacem (society of authors, composers and music publishers) is present on the island until Wednesday 26 April. He has a stay from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Music Hall of Mayotte in order to inform how to join this society. “Affiliation to Sacem costs only 100 euros for life and ensures real protection of the musical works of artists”he explains, surprised that so few Mayotte musicians adhere to it.

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