Monday, 31 May 2010

Music Academy - April/May 2010 update

The past few months of teaching music in Hamburg have been intensely rewarding. I have seen the students grow in self-discipline and in their love of music and of one another. The group dynamic is very strong and yet individual ability and talent is also shining through, as the students grow in confidence.

We have entered 19 students for UNISA practical exams, and 4 students for theory exams. These exams will take place in August and October respectively. We are grateful for the input of Senja Barthel, our professional recorder teacher from Berlin, in preparing our exam candidates. Senja is also doing a great job in motivating our new intake: we have admitted 9 beginners so far this year. A generous donation of new recorders from Yamaha made this possible.
On the teaching side, we have added capacity with the input of Janna Regenauer, a volunteer from the German Development Service (DED). Janna helps the students structure and implement their practising programme, to be fully ready for their lessons.

So our Saturday ensemble time now features three passionate teachers, Senja, Janna, and myself, all brimming with ideas and enthusiasm... and occasionally, we are joined by Helen when she is down from Jo’burg – and those are the really exciting times! We have expanded greatly on our ensemble repertoire, incorporating improvisation, extended techniques, and new instruments including the indigenous Xhosa uhadi bow, and (coming soon) the chromatic marimba.

The uhadi element, combined with recorders, is critical as it gives us the opportunity to tap directly into traditional Xhosa music. Our efforts in this direction were kick started by a workshop held in Hogsback facilitated by Jonathan Ncozana from the University of Fort Hare. The workshop was part of a camp that we enjoyed together with children from the Health Project, and staff from the Trust.

Other highlights from the past months were the Easter concert in the Old Hall (especially the jam session afterwards with Gaba!), and the shooting of a music video on the beach under the direction of Robert Hofmeyr.

The ensemble also successfully participated in the Eastern Cape Eisteddfod held in Grahamstown in May, achieving a gold award with their performance of a Mozart Rondo and the African-American spiritual, Go Down, Moses.

The ensemble looks forward to three performances at the National Arts Festival from the 22nd to 24th of July under the title “Keiskamma Songbook”. These performances will be the culmination of all the hard work and preparation over the past months.

Daniel Hutchinson - Teacher (Keiskamma Music Academy)