Music Development, Promotion and Preservation
"The fact that music can express the invisible; the ineffable makes it a particularly rich form of creativity - this mysterious and unique capacity to express. What other art forms cannot do gives it both endless potential and an intense sensitivity. Music perhaps has a more profound impact on human beings than does any other form of art." By Jose Antonio Abreu Founder of El Sistema - a music project from Venezuel.
Youth brass bands are part of the Minstrel and Christmas boards' fraternity and participate in the annual road marches and competitions. The reach of brass bands has increased immensely across the Western Cape over the last few years. This focus within the Minstrels and Christmas boards has managed to draw youth within communities across the Province to their annual activities. Regrettably a stigma of gangsterism, drug abuse and crime are linked to some of these organisations, but this can be addressed through the support of government and other role-players.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) has a Genre Development Strategy which guides the implementation of programmes within all genres of arts and culture, with particular focus on youth development. Due to the interest in music demonstrated by the youth involved with the brass bands, the Department has reviewed its music genre development programme to activate and develop the music potential amongst these youth.
Since 2008 DCAS has invested funds towards the development of the untapped talent of the youth in the rural and disadvantaged communities within the Province. The target communities were Genadendal and surrounding communities, Ocean View, Lavender Hill, Manenberg and Elsies River. Youth involved with the brass bands and learners from secondary schools were enrolled in the programme.
The music development programmes implemented by DCAS have had two levels of focus, namely the theoretical and practical aspects. The theoretical aspects include reading music as well as history and maintenance of music instruments. The practical aspects include the playing of brass instruments, i.e. the trombone, saxophone, trumpet and tuba, the playing of the percussion instruments and also the playing of guitars.
The music literacy programme has included the utilisation of the renowned "essential elements" - a comprehensive band method. This was done in parallel with the teaching of correct instrument techniques. The students were taught in the appropriate clef for their instrument, e.g. bass clef for lower brass. Students with good literacy and leadership skills have had the opportunity to enter a mentorship programme to develop music and playing in bands in the Western Cape. With further training, these students will develop a standard of musical skill that would make them eligible for jobs in the music industry.
Partnerships with relevant stakeholders have been formed and various music training programmes initiated across the Western Cape. In addition, DCAS has funded the tuition fees of professional musicians such as Ian Smith (manager of Virtual Jazz Reality band and international known trumpeter), Stefne van Dyk (professional musician and music lecturer at the Caledon music satellite campus of Stellenbosch University), Camillo Lombard (director of Camillo Productions and internationally recognised keyboard player and musician) and Gerald Foster (professional retired musician of the South African Defence Force). The combination of these specialised skills has highlighted the valuable role played by the Provincial government in enhancing the performing arts.
During the 2008/2009 financial year, DCAS allocated an amount of R30 000,00 to the University of Stellenbosch to implement the music training workshops in the Genadendal/Greyton area. Stefne van Dyk, who is managing the Caledon satellite music campus linked to Stellenbosch University, has trained youth from disadvantaged communities in these rural towns in the theory and practical aspect of music education.
Eight young people from the area were afforded an opportunity to become part of the music certificate course, taking their grading practical exams in their chosen instruments. These students became mentors and implemented a successful training programme for music during the 2010 Overberg Arts Week. This included the rhythm, percussion, marimba and brass instrument section. Axolile Hoza, who is a master in his own field with the flute, presented the training session using the penny whistle - to create an interest in this instrument amongst the youth.
A music camp is being planned as a collaborative project for 60 young people from the various music development programmes initiated by DCAS. The project will take place at Melkbos Oppiesee cultural facility from 4-6 February 2011. The participating youth musicians will be selected from the Elsies River, Manenberg and Ocean View programmes, as well as from the Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay. The programme will include professional musicians who will be teaching participants to play the songs of some jazz legends who have passed on over the last three years. It will be concluded with a concert, where tribute will be paid to the fallen legends.
A certificate programme in music, developed by the University of Stellenbosch and implemented by DCAS, will now provide participating youth with a formal recognised certificate.
According to Hannetjie du Preez, acting Head of DCAS, it is the core business of DCAS to unite people through sport and culture in order to appreciate fully the common interest. This interest binds us as a nation and creates opportunities for everyone to participate in most areas of human endeavour. The development, promotion and preservation of music ensures that we truly support the culture of learning and teaching through closer links and partnerships with communities. Through this process our stakeholders and communities are becoming active agents in the promotion of our unique heritage.
For 2011 we will be focused on advancing artistic disciplines to provide viable opportunities for communities in the Western Cape. We will be promoting respect for cultural diversity by building talent and excellence while expanding broad-based participation and enjoyment of the arts within all communities through facilitating programmes within the six genres, of which music is a very prominent one.