Dawkes Music UK Helps Bring Brass to Africa

Elizabeth Dale

Brass for Africa, a U.K. based charity organization, was founded over a decade ago when Jim Trott, founder and executive director, donated 30 brass instruments from his son’s junior brass band to communities in Kampala, Uganda.

Since this initial donation, Brass for Africa has gone to offer support for over 1,000 children and young people in Uganda, Liberia, and Rwanda by providing instruments, weekly music education, and life-skills training. The organization uses “music as a tool to empower and transform the lives of disadvantaged children and young people” and employs more than 40 African nationals as part of their staff.

Brass for Africa

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The origins of the organization all started with a simple discovery. While moving instruments from his son’s junior brass band, Trott noticed an outdated surplus of instruments. While old and well-loved throughout the years, these 30 instruments were still in a playable condition. It was then that an idea dawned on Trott. “I have lived and worked in and out of Africa for the past 30 years and knew that we could find a second use for these instruments.” Trott said, “I asked my fellow musicians in the community wind band if they would help raise funds needed to ship out those very first instruments to some organizations in Uganda. Since then, we have shipped over 1,000 instruments to Africa, training local teachers and teaching over 1,000 youth each week across Uganda, Rwanda, and Liberia.”

As the store of choice for both Trott and his son, the duo enlisted the help of NAMM Member Dawkes Music. After receiving an initial donation of some high-end saxophones from another source that didn’t quite fit the needs of the project, Trott approached Dawkes Music to acquire the appropriate line of instruments and spare parts. As Brass for Africa evolved, Dawkes Music arranged for Abi Taylor, Workshop Manager, to travel to Uganda to help set up and train team members at the newly established workshops.

Abi in Uganda

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In November 2019, Jon Dawkes accompanied Trott to the Kampala Centre to witness firsthand the outreach programs, meet the staff, and provide invaluable expertise that only a tenured retail store owner would be able to dispense. It was after this visit that Dawkes committed to continuing to partner with Brass for Africa. Dawkes reflected, “Our company goal is to create, inspire, and support musicians, no matter their age or ability. So to see the impact this charity has on so many lives is an absolute privilege.” Dawkes Music remains committed to contributing regular donations and 10% of their quarterly profit to the program, information which can be found at https://brassforafrica.enthuse.com/pf/dawkes-music

Trott encourages those who wish to support the initiative to sign up as a monthly member to help provide Brass for Africa with the opportunity to continue creating brighter futures. As the restrictions of COVID-19 begin to loosen, Brass for Africa will continue to expand safe opportunities for supporters to get involved. Visit www.brassforafrica.org for more information.

Editor’s Note: Dawkes Music is one of the UK’s frontrunners in brass and woodwind repair. Established in 1966, the large retail space houses over 8,000 woodwind and brass product lines, employs six full-time technicians and is home to seven on-site testing rooms. Currently run by Jonathan and David Dawkes, the third generation of the family to own and operate the UK staple, Dawkes Music was founded by Jack Dawkes when he had to leave his career as a professional musician. Having suffered hearing loss as an effect of his service in World War II, he opened a workshop to stay involved in the industry he loved. Today, Dawkes Music boasts the “largest team of repairers in the UK and is the largest supplier of spare parts and repair material for wind instruments in Europe.”