Pirate Mulwana earns a living from playing the saxophone well

At a friend’s 25th surprise birthday party organized by her boyfriend, one thing stood out and this was the melody from a saxophone played by a young man.

Pirate Mulwana had been hired as a saxophonist to entertain guests at the birthday party and as they say, the rest is history as everyone marveled at the sweet melodies.

Speaking to the Youth Blitz, Mulwana, says he learnt how to play the saxophone in 2019 after falling in love with the instrument from a friend.

“It took me some time to be able to perfect and as they say practice makes perfect, I also learnt with practice,” he says.

To date, Mulwana says he spends between two and three hours every two days, learning and practicing but in the beginning, he spent three to four hours per day with his saxophone.

He says that after learning, he started playing at friends’ functions and it is where many people began realizing he was capable of playing the saxophone well.

This meant that his potential clients had spotted him and would now begin making bookings to ensure he plays the saxophone at their functions.

Mulwana’s first bookings came four months later.

“During my first days, I was always nervous. I feared making mistakes. However, with time, I kept growing strong,” he says.

According to Mulwana, bookings come every week but he also gets calls on short notice.

“On some occasions, I am home and a friend calls to inform me they are to propose to their girlfriend and want me to play at the occasion.”

He says he is also invited to play at birthdays, introductions and weddings, as well as baby showers.

Mulwana says in a bad week, he earns at least Shs 300,000 but can also make up to Shs 3 million when the week is good.

He says his charges also depend on the occasion. He charges Shs 300,000 for proposals and surprise birthdays whereas weddings in Kampala and upcountry go for Shs 1.5 million and Shs 3 million respectively.

Covid-19 hit him hard

Mulwana was greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic since he had just begun playing the saxophone for money.

When government announced countrywide lockdown measures, functions that gathered more than five people were banned and yet these were Mulwana’s main clients.

It meant that he had no work.

 “It was hard. There were a few people making bookings and those who did, we had to do it secretly since it was against the guidelines,” Mulwana said.

He adds that for those that booked, he had to walk long distances since there was a ban on both public and private transport.

“You just had to hassle it out but it wasn’t an easy period but we did our best and we survived,” he says.


 Just like any other job, Mulwana says his also has a number of challenges.

“Some people don’t know the genre of music. Someone comes to you and say in one month, I want you to play on my wedding but doesn’t specify the songs to play. Because different people have different tastes and preferences, it makes it difficult to choose what to play for them,” he says.

He however says he always finds a way out.

He says he sometimes rides on trending songs that he plays depending on the occasion.

Sometimes, he free-styles on trending songs, depending on the occasion.

The young man also says that the problem of lack spare parts for saxophones makes his work difficult.

 “It’s hard in Uganda. You have to import most of these things. Even the dealers are few. Even the parts are very expensive. They are very tiny but very expensive. You have to invest in a lot,” Mulwana notes.

Mulwana says despite the challenges, playing a saxophone is more of expressing oneself.

 “Transposing real music through an instrument is like replaying the words people normally listen to and then you are playing them via a melody as you just express yourself.”

 Advice to youth

Mulwana has a piece of advice to young people out there who are aiming at succeeding in life.

 “You have to wake up and dare. No one is going to push you to be better. You have to practice every time. You won’t wake up one day and you are the best at a given instrument or a given talent. You have to push on a daily basis. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become good at something. People approach me and say, can I become so good in playing saxophone in one week? It’s impossible. Even me right now I can’t say I am so good, I am still learning. You don’t get comfortable,” Mulwana says.

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