Marimba Jam is a proudly women-led, youth-driven social enterprise. At Marimba Jam, we believe music has the power to unlock the creative potential that lies within every child. We aim to make music education more accessible to under-resourced communities and schools who have no access to creative arts education.
After the first democratic election in 1994, South Africa was faced with an enormous task of addressing the inequalities that the apartheid government left behind in its wake. Today, there are still huge inequalities that exist between the rich and poor schools, with many government schools having little to no access to basic resources such as running water or textbooks; let alone access to extra-curricular activities such as music education. Marimba Jam bridges this gap by providing regular weekly marimba band classes to over 500 school learners through our ‘School Band Program’ (for profit) and ‘Rising Stars Program’ (non-profit). Our business model uses the profits made from teaching at private schools to sustain the outreach work at under-resourced schools who cannot afford any arts or music education. We also run annual teacher training courses, to upskill our school-leaving students to become marimba teachers and professional performers; creating opportunities for them to further their growth potential and ‘play it forward’ to the next generation. The work we do enables students to have a safe-space to explore their creativity, while stimulating brain development, building their confidence, increasing their skill-set and empowering them to become well-rounded active citizens that have a positive impact on society.
Kiara Ramklass started Marimba Jam when she was 16 years old to address the inequalities she saw between her school and those less fortunate. She was grateful to have the opportunity to learn multiple musical instruments at school and wanted to share the joy of playing a musical instrument with students from a township school who had no access. After the first Marimba Jam workshop in 2012, she continued teaching marimba bands as a part-time job whilst completing her degree. The desire to make a deeper impact in the community led to her formalizing it as a full-time business in 2015.
Since then, Marimba Jam (Pty) Ltd and Marimba Jam Cares (NPO) has grown to become a thriving and dynamic social enterprise, providing marimba lessons to hundreds of school students in the Western Cape. Marimba Jam runs annual Teacher Training Courses, Festivals, Eisteddfods and workshops and provides part-time employment for over 25 university students. In addition, they have spent the last 5 years developing a syllabus for the African Marimba as a means to integrate it as the first African instrument into the westernized music departments and allow matric learners to take it as their solo instrument.
As a result of this initiative, Marimba Jam has ensured that five 'previously disadvantaged' schools who had no access to music education now have sustainable music programs impacting current and future generations of students.
Marimba Jam also promotes woman empowerment with 90% of all staff and students identifying as womxn. In 2018, they broke the Guinness World Record for the Largest Marimba Ensemble in the World on Women's Day using 241 young girls to achieve this feat!
Our motto at Marimba Jam is "Finding Harmony In Community" and this speaks to the way in which we use music as a vehicle to promote nation-building and social cohesion among the youth of South Africa. This is evident in our annual events where we bring together youth from different socio-economic backgrounds to perform mass items together, using music as the vehicle for transformation and peace-building.