19-year-old Tamara Bochere joined the Safaricom Youth Orchestra as a shy young girl in 2014. Now that girl is now a confident young lady who will be graduating this weekend. The violin taught Tamara to be confident about herself, as a way of emulating some of the people she met at the orchestra.
Tamara says that playing the violin has challenged her to strive to do better in all areas of her life. It has taught her much more than she ever would have imagined. She started playing the violin when she was in Grade 1 and worked her way up to join the Safaricom Youth Orchestra. Now, Tamara gets to graduate from the Safaricom Youth Orchestra this weekend and move on to the next chapter of her life.
On 3rd April, the Safaricom Youth Orchestra will be having its first physical graduation in 2 years and it is going to be a joyous celebration.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Tamara. I’m a Kenyan and a high school graduate. I play the violin and I’m really passionate about it. I spend all my free time playing the violin at Safaricom Youth Orchestra. As I graduate, that’s the one thing I’ll miss about it. It was the best way to spend my time and remain productive.
I’m currently on a gap year but I plan to study Chemistry at university. I’ll be leaving for Iowa in the United States this August. I didn’t have a choice about taking a gap year but was forced to because my academic year ended in November, and most unis start in September. I’m happy to have had this time to relax and take a break.
I love spending time with my friends when the opportunity is there. I love dogs.
When did you join Safaricom Youth Orchestra?
I joined back when I was in primary, at Logos Christian school. After that, I went to Aga Khan, where I did my IGCSE exams. After this, I went to Waterford School in Eswatini. I did my I.B there and graduated from high school.
I found out about the Safaricom Youth Orchestra in 2014. Our music teacher told us about the auditions happening at the time. He encouraged us to audition, and we did. I auditioned at Strathmore University. I was super nervous but I got in.
What started you on your journey with the violin? Do you play other instruments?
It was a while back and I was pretty much a child in Grade 1. I don’t actually have much recollection of it, but I started playing because it was a requirement in my school to play an instrument. I was surprisingly good at the violin, and so I just continued to practice until today.
I like playing the violin because it’s a challenge. I started on a full-size violin when my peers were starting on the small one. So, it was a challenge from day 1, and I liked to take it on. I found myself loving it.
I play other instruments but not professionally. I know my way around the piano but I’m not an expert at it.
What’s particularly challenging about the violin?
It’s challenging to tune the violin. You have to move your fingers across the fingerboard and sometimes if your finger is too stretched or way too down, you’re off tune.
The violin really helped me with discipline. As I learnt to be disciplined with the way I placed my fingers on the fingerboard, I took that discipline and applied it to my whole life.
What challenges have you had in your violin journey?
Starting off at Safaricom Youth Orchestra came with challenges. It was my first time playing with a group of people, I had no experience before that. I found super confident people and I just couldn’t relate with them. I wasn’t as confident. I was too shy and scared of playing the wrong note.
What have you learnt from playing the instrument?
Playing an instrument taught me that, unlike my academics, there’s a lot more to my journey than what my grades say. The violin helped me to evaluate myself beyond what was written.
How have your parents supported you in this journey?
My mum has been a vital part of my journey. She helped me to pick the instrument initially and even helped me to audition for Safaricom Youth Orchestra.
At the time, I was too young to grasp how huge of an opportunity Safaricom Youth Orchestra was. Over the years she’s helped me see the opportunities SYO would open for me.
Recently when I was applying to university she urged me to add Safaricom Youth Orchestra to my application, and that’s partly why I got accepted.
What opportunities has Safaricom Youth Orchestra opened for you?
Numerous! When I was applying to university I’d tell people that I’m part of an orchestra and that sold it for them. I got into many universities and was accepted to a UWC school.
It’s helped me to become more confident. I was able to use this confidence to go for leadership roles in school and speak up in class.
What’s your best memory at Safaricom Youth Orchestra?
My entire experience has been great! My favourite moment would have to be playing at the Safaricom Jazz International Festival. We went to the Safaricom Jazz Festival and the Art of Music Festival, and I got to play on both occasions. It was a lot of fun.
Where do you hope to go with the violin after graduation?
I’ll join an orchestra at university. I’ve pinned down which orchestra to join. I still want to take music with me wherever I go even though it’s not part of my studies as a major.
I haven’t thought of making money from music but we’ll see the opportunities that lie ahead.
How have you dealt with the nervousness of playing in an orchestra?
With the violin, being nervous affects how you play. You get sweaty palms, and this is the worst because you need your hands to play, obviously!
I just kept pushing. I wasn’t able to do anything else. Whenever we were changing pieces I’d wipe my hands.
What’s the worst mistake you could make when playing in an orchestra?
During a performance, when the audience is quiet and there’s a ‘rest’ and you play, it’s quite embarrassing. Everyone will pick up on the mistake.
My name is Laura Ayienga, a 25-year-old writer & marketer, experiencing the highs (not claiming the lows) of life. I discovered my passion for writing on this very blog back in 2019 and since then, I’ve been using it to express myself as candidly and authentically as possible.