Play it by ear to beat most others

2015-09-08 06:00
Some of the Zwaanswyk High School pupils who are in the school’s singing group which came third in the national competition to perform with Pharrell Williams. 

astrid februarie

Some of the Zwaanswyk High School pupils who are in the school’s singing group which came third in the national competition to perform with Pharrell Williams. PHOTO: astrid februarie

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Zwaanswyk High School came third in the national MySchool Sing With Us competition.

The competition is part of Woolworths’ strategic collaboration with the Grammy Award-winning musician Pharrell Williams.

The school was one of 200 entries from primary and high schools nationwide who all wanted a chance to sing with the star on stage when he visits South Africa.

Although Zwaanswyk High School has no formal music department, a group of self-starters have set up an extramural singing group for the fun of it.

To represent their strength, they chose the song “Roar” by Katy Perry for their audition. The song has a lot of personal symbolism, the members say, about rising above one’s circumstances and choosing to be strong.

Kyle Smith, a Grade 11 pupil and member of the singing group, says they feel privileged to have taken part in the competition. They did not expect to get as far as they did.

“We have no formal training and learn everything by ear and this was really an amazing opportunity to showcase what we are made of,” he says.

Smith says although they did not win they will continue to sing and perform.

“We were first seen as the loser of the school, but now we have made our mark and suddenly there is more interest in the singing group – more people want to join, but you have to be committed and willing to put in the extra hours,” he says.

Sanet Ziller, the singing group’s coach, says she is very proud of the pupils for what they have achieved and will continue to support them and provide them with the training they require.

“This has been a good year for us and, despite only coming third in the competition, it certainly has given the pupils a boost of confidence. More and more pupils are wanting to join now, but I am very selective when it comes to joining the group,” she says.

The group has also had other successes, including winning the Facets competition in the vocal ensemble category.

Ziller adds that the group has been chosen to perform in the City Hall for the Sing the Change organisation along with the Philharmonic Orchestra and other celebrity artists.

Williams personally selected the winner after local judges Jon Savage, Katlego Maboe and Theo Crous worked through the entries. The local judges chose 10 finalists.

The competition winner is Colin Mann Primary School in Gauteng.

The other finalists in the singing competition were Bergvliet High School from the Western Cape, Wittedrift High School from the Garden Route, Dixon Academy of Education and Pro Arte Alphen Park from Gauteng, St Mary’s DSG in KwaZulu-Natal and Gonubie High School and Hudson Park Primary School in the Eastern Cape.

You can view the video entry of each school on YouTube.

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