New jazz school may foster many more maestros

2010-02-23 11:55

THE great Winston Mankunku, amongst others, came from Cape Town’s vibrant Gugulethu township – and now there’s a good chance a lot more great musos will emerge from the neighbourhood following the opening of a brand new jazz school this weekend.

Sponsored by the US-based NGO, Playing for Change, the music school headed by experienced jazz double bass player Porgy Klaas is to offer free music classes for 150 students.

Built in the backyard of Klaas’s modest Gugulethu home, years of planning, building and dreaming came to fruition at the official opening of the Ntonga Music School on Saturday.

About 200 people, ranging in age from children to madalas, attended the opening, dancing and ululating as Klaas and fellow musicians entertained them while free food in the form of chicken, rice, bread, pies and cool drinks flowed freely.

Playing for Change director Whitney Kroenke, who flew in from New York to attend the opening, said the school had been established to give everyone, no matter how young or old, a chance to learn how to play music.

Kroenke said not only would students learn how to play an instrument, they would be taught the theory and technique to go with it.
And besides jazz, the school would also teach classical music.

Klaas said he believed all musicians needed to know how to read music and be empowered with the technical skills to allow them to play an instrument properly.

He said there were ten other teachers at the school besides himself and a range of instruments were available, including guitars, pianos, marimbas, drums, trumpets, saxophones and flutes.

Music teacher Gcinikhaya Mnyamana said enrolling at the school meant “you are taught from scratch”.

“You begin with basic music theory and technique and move on to being taught how to be a skilled and professional musician,” said Mnyamana.

He said he had been teaching music for the last 10 years in schools, churches, to community choirs and had played with numerous local bands.

He said anyone could apply to learn at the school, but under-18s needed to get their parents’ permission.

Makhosomzi Cacambile, 14, said he was “very excited” about the opening of the school as it meant he could attend lessons near where he lived instead of having to travel into the city as he had been doing for the past three years.

“The will be no reasons for me to be late or not come to classes because the school is nearer and have the intruments I need to use,” said Cacambile.

Parent Angelina Kiva said the community of Gugulethu was fortunate to have Klaas living in their area as he was “like a father to our children”.

“When my child is with him I know he is in good hands. We cherish this building and we will protect it however we can,” said Kiva.

Kroenke said the foundation had started planning for the school in 2006 and had spent R350?000 to get it established, and organised donations of instruments and equipment.

The NGO would take care of the school’s ongoing management.

– West Cape News

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