In Pali and Burmese “gita” means music, and “meit” means friendship. Gitameit Music Center was started in 2003 by pianist Kit Young and colleagues from Myanmar in order to build a supportive community of musicians and audiences locally, and to encourage sustained, meaningful contact with international institutions, teachers and performers. Gitameit Music Center is a non-profit community center and music school in downtown Yangon devoted to music teaching & nurturing, performing, offering exchange possibilities for Burmese students to study abroad, and inviting international artists & teachers for performances and workshops in Yangon.
Musical offerings at Gitameit are holistic. That is, the programs and projects incorporate study of western music genres (classical, jazz, rock, pop, contemporary art music), Burmese traditional and folk music, and a program of listening to and learning about music genres from all over the world. In addition, musicians are encouraged to learn about other art forms – poetry, theatre, literature, and plastic arts – to further extend the possibilities of their imagination. Gitameit also arranges concerts during the year by faculty, students, local artists and visiting performers which are open to the community.
The adult students are hoping to become music teachers and performers. At the heart of the program are two choirs: Gitameit Voices Junior and Senior which meet three times a week. All choir members study sight-singing and music rudiments. Classes in jazz ensemble and chamber music are available, as well as in private instrumental study.
We use a two-story building on a major bus line in Tarmwe, a sub-district of Yangon. On the second floor there is an auditorium with seating for 130 people and a stage with a grand piano. Downstairs, there are six rooms devoted respectively to music practice, teaching, computer use (with access to internet), listening with video/cd/dvd equipment, and a small library with books and music scores. Gitameit music center owns four upright pianos, 15 classical guitars, one cello and several violins. Because many of the students are too poor to have instruments at home, Gitameit Music Center is open from 8:30am to 9pm to accommodate those who want to practice.
Music study is open to all with a sliding fee schedule. Some free tuition and scholarships are available. In the last two years, four Gitameit students have received scholarships to study at Mahidol Unversity in Thailand. Outreach projects to remote communities in the suburbs of Yangon began in March 2006. Gitameit is currently supporting scholarship students from Chin State, Kachin State, Mandalay, Toungoo, Mawlamyaing and is involved with projects to teach music to underprivileged youths in the Yangon suburbs.
Payap University in Chiangmai, Thailand has agreed to authorize a certificate of merit program in conjunction with its music department for completed courses at Gitameit. Mahidol Unversity in Thailand has helped in sending teachers for short-term workshops and has also donatated music scores to Gitameit Music Center and continues to offer scholarships for musicians to attend SAYOWE: an annual, ten day all Southeast Asian nation orchestra and wind ensemble festival.