Transforming lives through the gift of music

Transforming lives through the gift of music

Music and other art forms have often been regarded as secondary to education when it comes to schooling, especially in communities where access to resources is severely limited. Yet, research has shown that not only does music have a positive impact on a variety of skills but supports educational processes and the development for children as well. Therefore, shouldn’t the argument be made that the most vulnerable children in our communities are overwhelmed with an abundance of resources that would help place them on a competitive footing with their peers in more affluent communities?

That’s exactly the question that struck musician and composer Roland Moses. Moses was dropping his daughter off at her upper-middle class school when he noticed a taxi full of school children disembarking at the nearby state-run high school. The juxtaposition of these very different worlds was overwhelming for Moses because as a child he’d been one of the children piling out of the taxi. 

Importance of formal music education

Moses grew up in Phoenix in Durban, cited as the largest Indian township outside of India, where at a very young age he started playing the piano for church services. Moses was mostly self-taught due to the poor socio-economic conditions, low household income, and living in a township, it was impossible for Moses (and others like him) to access formal education.

He only  started receiving formal music lessons at the age of 17 under the guidance of Dr Chloe Timothy who opened a whole new world for him.

Today, in addition to post graduate qualifications in musicology, jazz performance, composition and arranging, Roland is a highly regarded musician on the global music stage.

Formal music education meets township school

The harkening back to his own youth when he saw the children in the taxi galvanized Moses into action to find ways in which he could help children in townships experience that spark of passion for music.

He chose to focus his efforts at our Nokuphila School. By coincidence, Moses met Eustace Wilken, a fellow musician and product manager for Yamaha South Africa at a music festival abroad . Wilken introduced him to a township school music  programme that had been running for a few years in Kwa-Zulu Natal.  

About the music programme at Nokuphila School

Together Moses and Wilken set up the music programme at our Nokuphila School in Thembisa. The programme includes teacher training, where Yamaha trains teachers on the primary musical skills in combination with how to play the recorder. Only once the teachers have completed the training are they allowed to teach the children themselves. 

The enthusiasm and joy that this brought to the staff and learners is hard to express in words. It was like an electrical current that shot through everyone and electrified the staff and soon there were requests coming in from other staff all wanting to learn to play the recorder – and they did! Our children look forward to their music lessons and the chance to play the recorder because the simple truth is that they would never get the chance to play such an instrument anywhere else.

Moses has taken it upon himself to finance the music programme at Nokuphila School through sales of his CD Paths of Light, (a compilation of some of his compositions which strongly focus on the healing power of music – its influence on the mind, body, and soul). All proceeds will go towards the purchase of recorders, books, keyboards, and computers for learners to have access to formal music lessons encompassing a holistic approach to music education.

Should you be interested in learning more about the Yamaha Recorder Programme and how you can get involved, please contact Eustace Welkin. For more information on Moses’s CD and his music, please contact Roland Moses.