Meet Masiphumelele’s budding violinists

2017-11-18 08:30
Students learn violin at an outreach program in Masiphumelele. (GroundUp)

Students learn violin at an outreach program in Masiphumelele. (GroundUp)

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Cape Town - In a small classroom, pupils from Masiphumelele are learning a new skill: playing the violin.

The outreach programme, that takes place on the campus of non-profit organisation Masiphumelele Corporation, is run by Titia Blake, according to a GroundUp report.

"I’m trying to teach children to do what I do, and that is to play for weddings and functions," she says.

Blake believes that education is the only way to solve the ills of society.

"And my speciality is the violin and therefore the violin programme."

The programme has been running for six years and has about 30 students.

Blake’s band is called the Palm Strings and she calls the younger students "The Palm Stringlets".

Violins, performance posters and music pictures line the walls of the classroom. The students arrive in casual clothes, school uniforms and even soccer apparel.

Before they start, they listen closely to Blake, tuning their violins. None of them read sheet music, so they practice by listening and remembering.

The violins have been donated by Bishops Diocesan College and individuals.

Although Blake mostly teaches on Mondays and Thursdays, the children come out on their own to practice almost daily.

Students learn a classical repertoire but also play more popular music such as Ed Sheeran’s Thinking out Loud and John Legend’s All of Me.

Hazel Manzana, who is 13, has been practising for almost two years.

She says she loves the instrument: "The violin gives me lots of passion."

Playing the violin is challenging, but Manzana wishes to be a musician in the future.

Some of the students have played at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the City Hall and at weddings.

A handful of the more senior and experienced students are also making an income by busking in Simon’s Town and Kalk Bay.

One of the busking students is 16-year-old Onke Gili. He has been playing the violin for four years.

"I see myself as a violin teacher but not teaching young children because I’m short tempered," he says as other students chuckle in the background.

Gili and his friends have been busking for two years in Simon’s Town.

Gili likes it because he makes money.

Another busking student is 17-year-old Nopaseka Vika. She has been playing the violin for six years.

"We like the African beats and we also play classics," says Vika.

"We sometimes get invited by people and we play at their weddings and parties."

Vika wants to be a musician.

Blake hopes that some of her students will make a living from music one day and join the Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

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