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Genesis Community Arts Project in Cape Town aims to uplift children through music

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Members of the Masikhule Community Orchestra. PHOTOs: supplied
Members of the Masikhule Community Orchestra. PHOTOs: supplied

The Genesis Community Arts Project, a non-profit organisation (NPO), is making it their mission to teach music to anyone keen to learn.

Based at Hyde Park Primary School in Fairways, the project aims to uplift children through music.

Jacintha Abrahams, a member of the NPO, plays the French horn.

“There are children who come to hear us play and are so eager to learn an instrument. We as the orchestra, called Masikhule Community Orchestra, are the performance leg of the Genesis project.”

Children learn how to read and play music through the project.

You won’t find many women who play the French horn, she adds.

“I started playing music at the age of six. We have been playing the French horn for 25 years and joined this project last year.

“It feels good because you are doing something that touches people’s hearts. Every Sunday, we give our time, as volunteers, to practise or teach.”

She added that more instruments were needed as they were not enough.

“Volunteers are taking time out of their Saturdays and Sundays to teach and uplift the community by keeping these kids off the street where drugs and gangsterism are rife.

“There is so much talent and we are trying to give the kids something to look forward to.”

Members of the orchestra hail from all over Cape Town including, Simon’s Town, Grassy Park, Athlone, Ottery, Wynberg and Claremont.

“We are always looking for more people to join.

Christopher Siljeur, the conductor of the orchestra, said the initial project was launched in 2015. It focussed on art, dance, music and visual arts.

“We started with music because it is something we know.

“The aim was to eventually have a 200-piece youth orchestra, but then covid happened.”

The Covid-19 pandemic may have delayed the process but it did not deter the group.

“The arts are very much alive, especially in Grassy Park, Lotus River and Fairways. We are based at Hyde Park primary.”

He adds that there is no age limit when it comes to learning.

“The age of learners is from three years and up and the ages of the orchestra members range from 13 to the oldest 72.

“I don’t think there is an age limit to someone who wants to learn.”

He explains that the Masikhule Community Orchestra, which consists of 52 members, was launched last year for learners to have something to aspire towards.

“We work on an ‘each one teach one system’ and we are here to make an impact in the community.

There are a few things planned this year, such as hosting a concert to honour prison wardens and then later a Christmas concert.”

The Genesis Community Arts Project is based at Hyde Park primary school in Fairways.

While there are fees involved to learn how to play an instrument, no person would ever be turned away, says Siljeur.

“Currently there is a cost involved because people in our areas can’t afford it. But we have to maintain the instruments that we rent out.

“We won’t turn anyone away, we are a registered NPO and we are open to any kind of funding or donations. We will make a plan for anyone willing.”

The love of music is something Siljeur learned from his grandfather.

“I’ve been involved with music since the age of six. I was taught by my grandpa. I later majored in trumpet.

“I teach all brass and some woodwind and I am so inspired and thrilled by the learners who want to learn.”

They use the Trinity and Royal School syllabus to teach learners, who also write exams.

“We try our best to get them to read and write music and to be fully fledged musicians when they leave.”

Contact Hyde Park Primary School or Christopher Siljeur on 072 062 4810 for more information on the programme and to donate.

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