George Gicheru was brought up in a musical family.
His parents were members of the church choir so there was a lot of singing going on in the house, but it was not just church music that George and his three siblings grew up listening to. He recalls listening to a variety of pop music from musicians such as Lionel Richie and Celine Dion.
By the time he was joining the Starehe Boys Centre and School in 2015, George was an avid drummer, a pianist, a singer in the school choir, and took up the oboe.
He also joined the Starehe Boys band, which plays at national celebrations and state events. George was right at home.
“Playing with others was a crucial step in my musical growth,” he reflects.
“I believe the best way of playing music is playing with others. So many ideas are going around at the same time and it helps your tone and you learn from others.”
He specialized in the oboe, a woodwind instrument with a conical bore and double reed. The instrument known for its raspy sound requires a powerful set of lungs.
“I think of it as a very unique sounding instrument,” he says.
It was the instrument that he continued playing when he joined the Safaricom Youth Orchestra in 2017 then, a Form Three student.
His motivation to join the orchestra, set up in 2014 with the help of the late Bob Collymore, was to continue playing and sharing music with others.
“The Safaricom Youth Orchestra has impacted my life and I like sharing what I know,” he says.
He graduated in 2019 and one term later, he rejoined the orchestra, this time as a tutor.
His passion for the oboe is so infectious that more and more students are now taking up the rare woodwind instrument.
When he is not playing and teaching music, George is a student at KCA University, where he is pursuing a degree in commerce.
He says: “Commerce and business is something you interact with regardless of your profession.”
Along with all that, he is also studying music production. He also writes music and does music arrangements for orchestra, pop songs, piano and oboe compositions. He is the organist at the St Paul’s Catholic Chapel at the University of Nairobi. He is also part of the Take Five Music band.
As he watched his students prepare to graduate from the Safaricom Youth Orchestra last Sunday, April 25, George reflected on his life in music.
“SYO is a family and when you play in SYO you get to experience all of it. In my journey, I have learnt from a lot of people and I believe it is one of the greatest ways to have a great musical experience,” he says.