Wednesday, 26 October 2016



This paper seeks to find out the extent to which the church has contributed to the music education of Nigerians. It also seeks to find out the quality of music education the church offers in comparison to that which the State school offers. Hence the process of educating musicians is of utmost importance. This project was carried out in the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries church in Lagos-Nigeria, a church that has proved to be one of the largest contributors to free music education in West Africa. This project also looks into what the government schools offer as regards music education, in comparison to what the church offers; and which is of greater benefit to the church members. The church members involved are adults who are either going through or have passed through State owned secondary schools. To carry out the survey, questionnaires were sent to 50 church members in the music ministry, with questions relating to the quality of music education offered to them by both organizations (the church and State secondary schools). The results give a good picture of how much each of these sectors is doing as regards music education. This work also addresses what each sector can do to improve their music education services. A good look into the biographies of most world-class musicians shows that most of them began in the church. Nigeria is not left out. This proves that the church is a great place for grooming world stars; but this study will reveal to us how much the church is doing and what activities of the church supports the training of Nigerian musicians, in comparison to what the State schools are offering.



Akuno (n.d.) explains that music is an economic activity (its production and products provide employment) and a phenomenal part of cultural activities. He also related education to the giving of economic power. He went further to elaborate that educated people are supposed to be empowered with abilities that should qualify them to occupy certain places of authority where they are well rewarded for their efforts; but laments that music has not been able to help people achieve such ordeal, as it has not been able to offer financially rewarding career opportunities. However, music has been an immense contributor to the growth of societies of the world and because man has always been in search of new ways to communicate, the development of music has known no bounds. Hence, societies with their different musical styles have devised means of passing on their cultural heritage from generation to generation through one form of music education or the other. (Hollinger, 2007).  Ogunrinade (2012), in his definition of Music Education states that:


Music education can however be defined as a process by which musical knowledge and skills are developed through learning at school, colleges and University and the informal traditional setting.”

Church music is a fusion of the message of Christianity with both popular and classical music styles; owing to the fact that its constituent elements are derived from both indigenous and foreign sources – “a blend of the sacred and the secular”. Although western style music training was propagated in Nigeria by Christian missionaries in the nineteenth century, the development of church music, popularly termed ‘Gospel music’ in Nigeria dates back to the period between the 1920’s and the 1960’s during the evangelism activities of the indigenous Pentecostal churches, church music used during special occasions and those composed and performed by talented missionaries who led missionary school bands.  During this era music education took was informal. (Lo-Bamijoko, 1990) and (Adedeji, 2015).

Up till recent times, the Nigerian government has not given music its rightful place in the educational system (Ogunrinade, 2012). It has been observed that only private schools have trained teachers who teach music. The public school children are deprived of the joy of music. Although music education advocates have risen in one voice to change the situation, the problem of lack of funds poses a hindrance in the accomplishment of this goal. But it is important that our attention be drawn to a very interesting trend. The majority of acts who make it big in the music industry come from the public schools. But the question of interest remains – where do they learn music from? I am persuaded to conclude that it is the Church, because the church is the only place available to develop musical skills for free through personal volunteering to join and work with a choir, either as a vocalist or an instrumentalist.

As cited in his work, most black vocalists who are known music stars today began their music career development in the church. (Adigun, 2013). This can be observed in the Nigerian music scene as we think of singers like D Banj, Don Jazzy, Banky W, Terry G, Dare Art Alade, Waje, and a host of them Lalasticlala (2014). Omojola (1992) also shares the insights gathered from his interview with one of Nigeria’s foremost Organists and music educator, Olaolu Omideyi. From this interview, the great impact that church music training had on his career set him apart for great achievements in his music career. Hence, the church has been a great contributor to the development of music education in Nigeria.



The Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) church, founded by Dr. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya in 1989, is one of the fastest growing churches in the world, with the headquarters located at 13 Olasimbo Street, Onike – Iwaya, Lagos-Nigeria. The church is rich in music in that it hosts a large number of musicians (music ministers) in every family and genre of music, who are either formally or informally educated in music. The MFM church offers free music training to her members up to PhD level on the condition that they make a First Class in their undergraduate program. Presently, the church over 50 different music groups at the headquarters, who present music in all the families of instruments, including voice. Some of their presentations can be watched online (MFM Video On-Demand, 2012). This church has been picked for this survey because of her love and dedication in the upbringing, grooming and education of musicians from beginners to advanced level; an opportunity which is not easily come by because music schools in Nigeria are very expensive to enroll in. The privilege offered by this church must have been as a result of the fact that the General Overseer (Dr. Olukoya) is also a trained musician (Organist, Guitarist, Trumpeter and Singer). Hence, he has made it his business to support music education in Nigeria with the training and performance opportunities provided by his church which hosts a congregation of over 120, 000 in a single service – who come to the church because of the quality music rendered apart from spiritual reasons. This concurs with Sherwin (2004) who asserts that during worship, the church applies a well-planned worship music program to strategically attract new comers.



The Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries church for example has musical groups in every family of instruments including voice. This church has been chosen for this study because of her unusual love for music, capacity to accommodate total beginners in music learning and special attention given to the music education of her members. The church has various performing groups that are made open to every member who is interested to join. Members also have the freedom to join as many musical groups as they want, so long as they can cope with their practice schedules. In these groups, members are trained to sing and play instruments and are scheduled on the church’s roaster to perform to an audience of over 120, 000 people not including the people who connect to their programs via the Internet worldwide. This is alone is a big plus for any musician in the church.

In addition to training members, the church buys personal instruments for her members, taking the huge financial burden off them. More so, on a more professional level, the members are registered for the ABRSM London exams both for theory and practical exams after they must have been prepared for the exams by more experienced members who are also music teachers. Till date, a huge success have been recorded by the church as they have made landmark achievements in the music education of the Nigerian people by presenting many successful candidates in the ABRSM exams some of whom have gone world class while others have gone ahead to different higher institutions in the Diaspora to perfect their art. It is also worthy of mention that the church accommodates and trains not only classical musicians, but the contemporary ones too, as opposed to the music scholarship schools available in the country who major on classical music. Only the classically trained ones write music qualifying exams. In summary, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries church gives her members a good start and solid foundation to build on. Below are some pictures of members of the MFM Music Ministry.


With regards to my relations with young music education aspirants, in Nigeria, music education is expensive. Why? According to them, for beginners, starting up music classes is a burdensome project because classes are hourly and are charged at a high rate. They are also once a week; which is not enough for most people to grasp the concepts taught and they may end up being half-baked musicians. Hence, people who are new to music learning and cannot afford classes may not be able to develop their musicality to its full potential. Hence, only the rich are able to afford classes. The less privileged ones have only one option, to get sponsorship or to join a church music group where lessons are given free of charge.

In the present Nigeria, beginners in music find it difficult to get trained because of the cost implication. For the less privileged, the State schools would have been a good starting point to getting some Music tuition, but unfortunately, Music is not regarded as an important subject in the curricula of State schools. Therefore, they do not bother to hire music teachers or give Music as a subject or course any relevance, even when it is in their curricula. This may be partly due to the fact that the State budget is tight and subjects of ‘less’ importance or relevance have to be ruled out to give major subjects like Mathematics and English Language priority. Another reason could have been that the students may not be interested in music, but this has been ruled out owing to the large turnout of students who participated in my music community development projects in 2011 (Etemah, 2012).

Although non-governmental organizations are rising up to the situation and establishing scholarship music schools, admission to these music schools still requires that applicants present ABRSM grade five certificates in theory and practical which in turn require years of tuition and practice to attain. Besides, only few people are admitted to the schools (about 200) yearly in comparison to the thousands of people who apply every year. Also, they have a preference to classical music, which keeps out the bulk of people who are interested in contemporary music. Hence, the contributions of such organizations are not really enough.

Obviously, Nigeria - developing nation has not come to the realization that music in the lives of her younger citizens will lead to a better future for her. According to (Froehlich, 2000), the Education of the Nigerian popular musicians was mostly through apprenticeship. Musical literacy was not common with them. The Nigerian culture is very rich in traditional and indigenous music - it is thus expedient that the benefits of modern music education (formal or informal) be explored and exploited for national development.  May I mention here that the developed countries of the world have music in the curricula for the younger children and more interestingly, research has showed that most of the great inventors of the world and great world leaders can either play an instrument or sing (Estrella, 2016). 


An online questionnaire was administered to 50 members of the MFM Music Ministry who are 18 years and above and who have passed through or are currently attending the State Secondary school. Personal questions dealing on age, gender, marital status, occupation, annual income, highest educational qualification and major musical instrument played were asked. Among the advantages of using a questionnaire are: large amounts of information can be collected from a large amount of persons, it is practical, it saves time, energy and money, and researcher or software can quickly and easily quantify results. Using a questionnaire also has its downside, which includes the following: there is no way to tell how truthful a respondent is being, the researcher’s imposition when developing questionnaire may make him miss something that is of importance and it is considered an artificial creation by the researcher who is asking only a limited amount of information without explanation. (Ackroyd and Hughes, 1981).

It was observed that among the respondents, the ratio of males to females was 2:1; most of whom were singles, age ranging between 18 and 53. They included people from all walks of life ranging from architects, to pastors, engineers, the self-employed and mostly students. Their annual income ranged widely but showed that majority lived under N200, 000 (about £700) per annum which reveals why they are not able to afford to enroll in music schools, pay for music exams or buy personal musical instruments for practice and performance.

More important, were the nine other questions that were asked, which are as follows:

1. What musical activity are you mostly engaged in?

2. Which of these statements best explains your music education experience?

3. How was your music education funded?

4. Which of the following statements are correct with regard to the quality of teachers available to teach music in church?

5. Are there are enough instructional materials and musical instruments for music teaching in the church?

6. How has the music training in church benefited your life?

7. How was your music training in church funded?

8. How would you describe the music education strategies of your secondary school?

9. How can you compare your music education experience in secondary school with that of the church?


Results from these questions shows that the church is blessed with musicians who are instrumentalists, vocalists and multi-instrumentalists. The music education of the majority of them began and was developed in church (43.33%). Closely following were those learned music in secondary school (not State owned) but developed their skills in church (30%). 16.67% had no music education opportunity until they got to church. Very few (3.33%) studied music in higher institutions but found a platform for professional practice in the church.

The results from music educational funding showed that the church funded the majority of the respondents. As regards the availability of quality teachers to teach music in the church, 62.07% of the respondents agree that the church ensures that qualified teachers are available to teach music in the church.

On the issue of availability of instructional materials and musical instruments for teaching in the church, 40% of the respondents agree that the church is fully equipped to teach music. But the larger percentage still feels more needs to be done for the church to be on top of her game.

On benefits received through church music training, it was observed that all the respondents have gained something tangible from the church music programme – ranging from free tuition, developed musical skills, opportunity for performance and further education. But the response obtained from the music education strategies of their secondary schools revealed that some secondary schools did not offer Music as a subject (43.33%). Respondents who went through a sub-standard music education programme in their secondary schools were 30% of the population. Although there were respondents with an enriching secondary school music programme (20%), these were majorly schooled in non-State schools. This clearly shows that the government needs to listen to the Nigerian music education advocates and key in to fund school music programs from primary school level so as to nurture the interest among children which can be sustained up to secondary school level and beyond.

Lastly, in comparing respondent’s music education experience in secondary school with that of church, 67.74% agree that the church program had more benefits. 3.23% says the secondary school music program has more benefits. 12.90% says both were superb. Below are some of the questions and their chart results in percentages.


From the results I was able to gather some information about ways by which the church helps her members achieve their musical goals. These include: scholarships, establishing of church-owned music schools with well-equipped libraries, free tuition, forming and admitting people into church music groups like the choir, band and orchestra, buying of musical instruments, international standard concerts, sponsorship to international music conferences, carnivals and workshops, free registrations for music exams, a platform for perfection of skills learned by way of regular performance to both local and international audiences and hiring of qualified teachers to groom members.


The benefits enjoyed by those who engage in one form of musical activity or the other are numerous as can be seen by several articles produced by a basic Internet search. It has been confirmed that singing integrates and aligns the entire makeup of man which could be a good reason the church uses a great deal of singing during services and other sacred events. For a solid establishment of this tradition, churches need a well-informed and educated team of musicians to head her music department. (Schoepp, 2006). This is one of the strengths that the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries have that enables their music department to stand out amongst churches in West Africa.

On a closer look into the MFM church setting, one would discover that music is a strong part of the order of worship. This automatically positions the church to either hire trained musicians, sponsor people to be musically trained, hire music teachers to train church members or establish a music school to train church members. It can therefore be seen here that members who are interested in developing their music talents from the scratch have an opportunity to do so at little or no cost in churches. Hence the church is a good breeding ground for music talents. Most churches in Nigeria have various groups that specialize on one specific instrument or families of instruments. These churches are therefore in a good position to mould musicians and help them specialize in particular instruments.

Getting the Nigerian government to see the benefits of music education to the nation has been a hard nut to crack as other national issues dominate their reigns leaving music education to suffer. In view of this, Lo-Bamijoko (1990) informs that music education has not always been extinct from the educational system as the institutions and missionaries in the early twentieth century taught formal music including sight singing but that this watered down when the government took over the schools.

No doubt, the State is doing her best in the area of music education in Nigeria. Music education in Nigeria is at its best in the higher institutions. But it has been discovered that the number of students enrolled for Music in Nigerian higher institutions in usually low in comparison to enrollment in other courses. This may be as a result of the lack of attention music suffers in the lower grade levels. The interest has not been nurtured so there is lack of interest in music in higher institutions. Besides, most people in the music department were asked to choose music because they couldn’t make the required points to get them into their original courses of interest. So it can be seen that music as a profession has been given a subordinate position among other courses in the Nigerian institutions. (Ogunrinade, 2012).

This is a challenge that can be tackled in many ways. Firstly, the government needs to be sensitized on the multifarious benefits of music. Music can enhance co-operation, teamwork, focus, IQ, self esteem etc. The problems the nation has been facing since independence has distracted her from these advantages. Secondly, music has to take its rightful place in the Nigerian educational scheme. More attention and importance needs to be given to music education. Thirdly, the music education advocates of Nigeria need not only to write papers but to ensure the circulation and implementation of the suggestions in their writing, which is only possible when these publications are pushed until they get to the table of the government. This leads to the fourth suggestion, which supports that, associations and bodies, which will support music education in the lower grades of the Nigerian educational curricula and would take up her matters to the government, should be formed. Lastly, the private sector needs to scout for youth projects that involve music teaching in the lower grades and sponsor them; as they are geared toward introducing music to children and youths in State schools; a place where music is not offered or taught and this opens up opportunities for the discovery of young music talents.

This last suggestion relates to my Music Community Development projects carried out in 2011 where I carried out a number of music projects that benefited high school students in five different State schools in Lagos, Nigeria. Among the projects are; a voice training workshop, a singing contest, recording of an eight-track album, a music video shoot and book publication (titled: Sing like a Superstar). It was difficult to get an approval for this project because; the National Youth Service Corps co-coordinator for my zone did not understand why so much energy and funds should go into a musical project. I had to do a lot of explanation and defending to win the project approval. This shows that for the music education advocates in Nigeria to win the case for music education in the lower grades, they have to put up a good defense for the cause because the awareness in Nigeria, of the importance of music education in the lower grades is quite low.





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