Jazz Amba School of Music – Ethiopia

The overall objective of Jazz Amba School of Music is to ensure young musicians in Ethiopia have direct access to a high quality music education allowing them to develop a career as competent professional musicians. At the same time Jazz Amba sees itself as a cultural bridge between young Ethiopian musicians and the rest of the world. Jazzamba aims to contribute to the revival of Ethio-jazz as well as fostering other forms of Ethiopian music thus providing a much needed platform for young artists to develop their skills and make an impact of the Ethiopian music scene.

Jazz Amba School of Music has 21 employees of which 18 are music instructors with 91 students enrolled in an intensive 3 year program. The program caters for young musicians starting out as well as those already actively involved in the music scene who are in need of advanced knowledge. Many of the members of prominent Ethiopian bands like Jano, Zemen and the Mehari brothers have studied at Jazzamba.

Jazzamba has the following specific objectives:

  1. To produce professional musicians who will create great art and be able to support themselves and their families thus becoming productive members of the community.
  2. To develop a music education program in selected government elementary and secondary schools taught by volunteer students from the Jazzamba program.
  3. To develop a music workshop program in other major towns and universities outside of the capital, Addis Ababa to promote the program and disseminate the ideas.

Ethiopia developed is own style of Jazz which reached its zenith in the 50’s and 60’s and came to be known as Ethio-jazz but the years of the Mengistu dictatorship led to a serious decline in the musical life of the country. In the last decade the music scene has revived a lot and Addis Ababa now has one of the most vibrant music scenes in Africa with many clubs hosting local and international acts on regular basis.

The Jazz Amba School of Music was founded in 2008 by a group of the most prominent Ethiopian musicians some of whom had recently returned to Ethiopia from the United States after studying there. They decided to form a new music school to meet the growing demand by young musicians for a quality music education based on their own musical identity in a nurturing environment.

Originally called the African Jazz School of Music before changing its name to Jazz Amba, it was financed through the now legendary Jazzamba Lounge which was located in the Taitu Hotel in the Piazza district of central Addis. The Jazz Amba Lounge was founded by the same group of musicians and it became the most popular club in the city presiding over the revival of Ethio-jazz. The club tragically burnt down in 2015. Despite this major setback the Jazzamba School of Music has grown steadily since its foundation and also attracts students from other countries in the region.

For more information visit the Jazzamba website