Friday, 11 March 2011

Biking for a Bakkie

In April last year, 4 bicycle riders from Kidzpositive covered a distance of 1000 kilometres from Hamburg in the Eastern Cape Province, to the Children’s Ward at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. They raised one hundred and fifty thousand rand (nearly $ 20 000) in support of the Keiskamma Trust and its projects.

This year the bikers will ride the Freedom Trail and we are enormously excited and hope to raise the profile of this event. The dates this year are April 21st through to May 2nd with stops in Cambria, Studits, Willowmore, Rondawel, Prince Albert, Gamkaskloof, Vleiland, Anysberg, Montagu, Bainskloof.

Check out the Freedom Challenge Project

The aim is to raise funds via sponsorships from individuals and corporations and to demonstrate the connections between Cape Town and Hamburg, a city and a rural health district and the challenges we share.

We are looking for individual sponsors, who will be able to follow the progress of their ‘champion’ or ‘champions’ via our blog and Facebook.

As well we will acknowledge donations from business and corporate organizations on our Web sites and through our blog and Facebook, as well as in the Kidzpositive and Keiskamma Newsletters.


Saturday, 5 March 2011

Music Academy Newsletter

Dear friends of the Keiskamma Music Academy,

We started the Keiskamma Music Academy in the village of Hamburg under the auspices of the Keiskamma Trust in 2006. In just over four years more than fifty children have received music tuition, comprising lessons on recorder (soprano, alto, tenor, bass and double bass recorders), theory, marimba and ensemble lessons. Of this number, thirty-two students have become regular pupils who attend several classes each week, enter examinations, and play in various concerts every year. While we still use “classical” training methods, we also incorporate indigenous Xhosa instruments, including marimba and djembe in our performances. Without the infrastructure established by the Keiskamma Trust, this programme would not have been possible.

Students are still selected purely on their expressing interest. It is possible for a child to “try it out” and decide for themselves whether they would like to continue. We have three rules which the children have to obey to keep their positions in the Music Academy.

Lessons and material are free, but students must:

* attend all lessons scheduled.

* take good care of their recorders.

* practice at home.

Lihle Mtshonisi is a founder member of the Music Academy. Together with the other seniors, he did the hard thing of sticking it out with a musical tradition which was utterly foreign to their community. The children who have joined since then have had a much easier task. The Music Academy has premises at the High School, ongoing lessons, an infrastructure, and a standard set by the older children to aspire to. The group chose Lihle as their leader. He has risen so much to the occasion. He combines humility and gentleness with firmness. When he started he was such a little boy, making lots of noise and jokes. Now he is in grade 10, and one of three students who are preparing to take music as a matric subject .

Our biggest challenge remains that we work in a remote rural area. Teachers must travel long distances to reach us.

Our other current challenge is funding: indeed, our funding situation is rather dire at the moment.

Our teaching programme for 2011 incorporates several facets:

Weekly recorder and theory lessons with teachers from Grahamstown, East London or Port Alfred.

Orchestral instrument lessons are in Grahamstown. And we have 3-4 composition and ensemble workshops planned for the year, with further workshops on Xhosa indigenous instruments, the marimba and djembe.

Oliviera Nickolic, who helped me start the Music Academy in 2006, is encouraging the children to step up the amount of practising they do at home to hasten their development. We will sit UNISA exams both in May and in October. The children are very excited about this.

I plan to go to Hamburg roughly every 4-6 weeks to visit the students, and to oversee and plan and manage the various aspects.

The three grade ten students will be preparing to reach the necessary level by grade twelve for music to count as a school subject.

Seven advanced recorder students have started playing solo concertos, which they find exhilarating. They will be entering a national competition in Grahamstown in June. They are so proud of this new accomplishment. Another ten students will start playing orchestral instruments towards the end of the year.

Eight student teachers have started teaching younger students. The seniors are so encouraging to the beginners.

Says Nqophisa in one of our discussions: “What worked for me is that the beginners, they make me feel proud.”

Highlights of 2010:

· The pride and interest that the parents have taken in their children’s musical abilities is a personal highlight of 2010 for me. We now have a parents' committee of four mothers who play an active role in supporting all our endeavours.

· Daniel Hutchinsonhas started helping to create a unique voice for the Music Academy: enabling the children to make music outside the strict confines of the genre of “classical music”. Together with this opportunity for free improvisation, the skills base of the children is being further extended. We have incorporated playing uhadi bow, djembe and marimba as part of our ensemble.

· Our visitors included Senja Barthel from Berlin, who taught for some months last year. She greatly raised the level of recorder playing. Linda de Villiers gave a warm workshop, culminating in teaching the children an arrangement of Waka Waka. The children loved having a teacher from the early years visiting again. Oliviera Nickolic, assisted by Fladia Buongiorno and Kgothatso Kekana, all came as specialist recorder teachers.

· Four students started on orchestral instruments: Lihle on flute, Zimkitha and Nqophisa on clarinet, and Simni on oboe.

· We continue to have young volunteers from the German Development Corporation. Anna Ferl and Gildas Neukam took over from Janna Regenauer.

· UNISA has become one of our sponsors. Sixteen students passed their recorder practical exams with four distinctions, four merits, and eight passes. The seniors wrote their first theoretical exams too.

· We have started a relationship with Ubungani Wilderness Experience, which helps us with environmental education, leadership training and self-esteem development.

Publication of our first book:

Keiskamma Songbook: Aquarium

The book celebrates the beauty of Hamburg, with an arrangement for recorder quartet of Aquarium from Saint Saens' Carnival of the Animals, and twelve pictures of local birds embroidered by the Keiskamma Art Project, showing how to produce their bird calls on the recorder by using extended techniques.The book is a collaborative project between the Art Project and the Music Academy.

The book would appeal to the art and craft lover, the music teacher, the recorder student and the nature lover. The DVD includes a performance by the Keiskamma Music Academy recorder ensemble, and a feature on Hamburg-based artist Vuyisile "Gaba" Funda, whose dune art inspired the choreography of the Aquarium arrangement.

The book was conceived by Daniel Hutchinson, design and layout by Robert Hofmeyr.

It can be ordered from Helen Vosloo:

We also a set of eight cards with pictures of embroideries from the book for sale at R20 per card.

Our current accommodation is in a classroom as St Charles Sojola High School, while we have some access to other classrooms on weekends. We are grateful for our relationship with Ms Thelma Ncumani, the principal of St Charles Sojola High. We are, however, bursting at the seams and I am investigating options towards finding us a home of our own.

The vision for the Keiskamma Music Academy is to uplift the quality of life of vulnerable rural children of Hamburg and surrounds, by creating opportunities through a musical education.

We measure our success not only in terms of exams passed, several of which are with distinction, gold certificates at Eisteddfod or the standing ovations at concerts. Our success is also measured in the personal growth of our students.

In verbal skills development, in young kids being able to express their feelings through music, in harnessing a discipline of music making.

We thank our donors (of 2009 and 2010 combined)

Sopranino donor (up to R4 999)

Don and Marianne Macrobert, Diana Tabor, Julia Davey, John Campbell (Pick 'n Pay Grahamstown), Jobst Bodenstein, Mike Skinner, Graham Gooden (St. Andrew's Prep), Colette Tilley, Dorothy Holder, Garvey Clarke, Priscilla Glover, Peter Breetzke, Kate Davies (National Arts Festival Arts Encounter Programme), Jonathan Ncozana, Robert Hofmeyr, Yannic Herrenknecht, Hilary Tyghe, David Kinghorn, Meg Twyford

Soprano donor (R5 000 up to R9 999)

Dave and Eileen Thayser

Gerard and Helene Weber

Alto donor (R10 000 up to R24 999)

German Development Corporation


The Ackerman Family Educational Trust Fund

Kathleen Sowersby

Industrial Development Corporation

Tenor donor (R25 000 up to R49 999)

Tom and Jean Lloyd

Yamaha South Africa


Arts and Culture Trust

Noel and Fran Coburn

Bass donor (R50 000 up to R99 999)

Rupert Music Foundation

Rand Merchant Bank / Apollo Music Trust


Contra bass donor (R100 000 +)


International Donor

National Arts Council

Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Fund

NB: We are able to issue tax receipts since the Keiskamma Trust has 18A tax status as a registered NPO.

Thank you for keeping the Music Academy in your hearts.

Yours in music

Helen Vosloo

For more information about the Keiskamma Music Academy, contact Helen Vosloo at or at +27 82 664 119

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Art - Design Indaba 2011

The Art Project was at the Design Indaba from the 25th to the 27th of February.

We were at the CCDI/DTI stand with our best-selling Nguni range. our felt accessories as well as new fashion items.
We thank ECDC for their help!

At a separate stand, we were announcing KAMMA a beautiful offspring of the Keiskamma Art Project with all new designs. Click here for pricelist.

We thank all our supporters and visitors who gave us an excellent feed-back on our work!