Dylan Mpanyera might be a pint sized young man but he is the captain of the Prince Edward Jazz Band (PEJB). He excels in music studies and was one of the few junior students to play in the senior school jazz band when he was just in Form 2. He is the captain of three groups at his school: Music, Jazz Band and Pop Band. He plays the lead guitar in the jazz band and has learned to play two other instruments – the mbira and the marimba.
The 18-year-old student is studying for his A-levels at Prince Edward High School, one of the best schools for budding musicians as music is offered from Ordinary level to Advanced level. The school has boasted a 100% pass rate in music since its musical director took over in the early 2000s. It has been influential in building the careers of musicians Vee Mukarati, who played at HIFA, Humphrey Domboka who has toured overseas and Chikwata 263’s Tomas Brickhill.
Seeing how successful Mpanyera has become, you would think that he has always been interested in music but surprisingly he only realised his ability a few years ago. “I only realised I was talented in music through the supportive nature of my family and music teacher,” said Dylan.
His recognition of his talent can be credited to the school music director, Elias Mapiye, who worked hard to make music a compulsory subject for Form 1s and 2s. “When I came to the school as the director of music, we changed the existing policy to make music a compulsory subject for Form 1 and 2. This had excellent results as the number of music students who carried on with the subject increased compared to the previous years when it was optional,” said Mapiye.
Mpanyera, who is due to finish school this year says, “After school I will take a gap year to focus on music and growing as an artist. I will then continue with university where I will balance my studies with music.” The PE music department has always emphasized that a balance should be maintained between music and other academic studies.
When asked about the biggest highlights of his career, Mpanyera said, “Without doubt playing at HIFA has been one of them. Playing with Zimpraise and Blessing ‘Bled’ Chimanga also makes it to the list.” Mokoomba’s Trust Samende has been an inspiration to the young man and his mentoring has been a great inspiration for Dylan.
PEJB has an excellent reputation as they were once the resident band for the 5 star Meikles Hotel and they’ve played in South Africa and even at State House. The jazz band got a boost recently when the Prince Edward Old Boys Association donated musical equipment worth over $10,000.