Elephant Grass Musical Chairs band leader and banjo player Tom Wolf shared the following correspondence with the school official where his band made a Shultz grant-funded bluegrass music presentation in Nairobi, Kenya on June 12, 2023. 

Mr. Ndung’u,

I know we spoke earlier, but I wanted to give you a slightly more formal vote of thanks for making our Saturday music possible.

Even though we were competing with all the sports activities going on, you saw that the Music Room was filled with about 100 students, and that when I asked, about half of them raised their hands to show they had attended the introduction-presentation that Oscar and I made the previous week. (When I thanked them for their attendance and attention, I said if any Lenana student came to hear us play anywhere else they would be given free entry. The only condition was that they could prove to me they were from Lenana by telling me the magic words, “Music Room”—to which they all applauded!

I think you were present when I gave a brief description of the Arnold Shultz Fund and the basis upon which our band received the grant that supports the four secondary school lectures and concerts of which Lenana School’s was the first.  (Of course, I had more time to talk about this, as well as the history of the music and how Shultz influenced Bill Monroe’s development of this music at the lecture.)

If you have any suggestions as to what, if anything, we might do differently at the remaining three schools, please do let me know. And as I said earlier, if by chance you’re free on Sat. July 1 to attend our event at Nairobi School you’re more than welcome.

Finally, do pass on any further communication you get from your students who attended.  I know at the end a few wanted to hear Stephanie sing, an interesting challenge that I hope she’ll consider, when she’s not practicing her fiddling!


PS: At the end when I asked them what they liked most, they all shouted: “THE BANJO!”—despite my numerous flubs.

From Anthony Ndung’u, June 13: 

Hello and thank you very much. We really appreciated your coming and for the superb performance.

No doubt, the students enjoyed and also learned a lot, too. I believe we will continue keeping in touch going forward. Karibuni tena*. Thanks for the invite.

*Translated from Swahili: “You are welcome” or “Come again.” – what people say when you leave a store, for example.

Return to the August, 2023 issue of The Cornerstone.