Music for All

Recently, PULSE attended the first music for all conference, as part of the Chords of Community collaboration with Norges Musikkorps Forbund, Field Band Foundation, The University of Witwatersrand and The Norwegian Academy of Music.

The first Music for All conference took place in Oslo in April this year. It is an international meeting place and learning arena for students and teachers. The conference aims to strengthen the quality of higher music education through international cooperation between universities and NGOs, as well as strengthening the relevance of Home Medical Equipment (HME) by focusing on inclusion, diversity, and intercultural competence.

PULSE and Field Band staff showing of ways of making the banding environment fun.

Norges Musikkorps Forbund (NMF) and Field Band Foundation (FBF) participated in this conference as they both contribute towards positive development in their communities.

Field Band Foundation sharing their set-up and explaining different roles within the foundation.

During this conference, NMF and FBF — along with other organisations involved — exchanged knowledge on how they do activities in their different projects. We discussed different methods of teaching, inclusive music education, exchange programs, and ways to sustain our projects.

Most importantly, PULSE shared methods of getting members to stay in the band longer and making band rehearsals attractive namely playing instruments while dancing or moving and social based games as part of creating a safe space for everyone.

The Participants got an opportunity to visit a Norwegian school band and to see how they work in their local projects. Here, we were able to observe and learn ways we can use to sustain and better our projects.

The Music for All conference concluded by a big concert hosted by all the participants. Here different cultures, dances and music styles were combined to showcase the effectiveness of international collaborations.

Written by Lesley Sebola

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Meet the New PULSE Participants

2023 is well underway, which mean we can welcome four new PULSE Participants to the team in South Africa.

Ann Elise Reigem

Ann Elise Reigem is a student at the University of Bergen, and currently writing her master’s thesis in global development with a specialization in Health Promotion Theories. She was doing a two-month internship September — November of 2022. Turned out this was way too short for this eager student who decided to apply for coming back as a PULSE Participant. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Pedagogy, and several years of experience with working in a non-profit organization.  

— Even though I’m not a professional musician, FBF´s focus on improving health and well-being in communities at social risk is straight in line with both my background and goals. There is such a big potential in the impact FBF can make in the lives of so many children and teenagers, and this is something I want to be part of.   

In PULSE she is looking forward to be working with life skills and social inclusion content, and use her academic and educational background to promote upskilling of staff.

— In my time here, I want to use my knowledge and skills to further promote the work of FBF, and also learn new things to bring back home to Norway. 

Sangeeta Hessen

Sangeeta is educated as a teacher with a master’s degree in social science didactics for teachers. Throughout her education she has had a particular interest in social development and the African Sahara. During her master´s, she focused on education and gender equality in Tanzanian Secondary schools. She has since then been working as a primary school teacher in Norway for approximately four years. However, Sangeeta wanted to get new global experiences to broaden her opportunities and expand her set of experiences. This is why she applied to be a PULSE participant.  

As a pulse participant she will focus on teaching skills and how to implement them. She sincerely wishes to use all the skills which are already present in the various bands, and thereby expand the knowledge of teaching skills together with the members. She is not a musician, but would like to expand her knowledge on how to teach music as well as contributing with her expertise as a teacher.  

Kaja Henriksen

Kaja is a 30 year old music therapist who since graduating from the University of Bergen has been working to improve young people´s mental health and wellbeing through various music activities. In 2019, She did an internship with the music therapy organisation MusicWorks in Cape Town and was inspired to write her master´s thesis based on her experience. In her work she puts the joy of music at the forefront and is passionate about creating safe spaces for people to express themselves and experience meaningful connections. 

— I was introduced to PULSE when I met one of the South African PULSE, Thembeka Joe, at a conference in Bergen, and everything fell into place; I have been looking for an opportunity to come back to South Africa and continue expanding my knowledge on how to use music as a means to improve holistic health and provide possibilities for growth. I feel very much at home in the FBF´s values and goals. 

During her exchange Kaja will among other things be using her music theraputical skills. She wants to learn as many new songs, games and moves as possible and take them back to Norway with her. 

Fredrik Arntsen Haga

Fredrik Arntsen Haga is a 27 years old saxophonist with a Master’s Degree in Musicology. He has been playing in bands since he was 7 years old, and for the last few years he has been working as a producer at a cultural center in Northern Norway, coordinating and organizing concerts and cultural events, logistics with traveling regional theaters and a wide variety of cultural events for children and the elderly. After two years in the Norwegian north, he packed his bags and joined PULSE in South Africa.  

— My goal is to learn as much as possible during my exchange, both about the FBF, South African culture and history, and hopefully some isiZulu. I’m looking forward to working with something meaningful and meeting a lot of new people. 

The four new participants have already gotten well into their work. You will hear more about their work in the coming months.

You can read about the current PULSE Participants here

Written by Ann Elise Reigem, Sangeeta Hessen, Kaja Henriksen and Fredrik Arntsen Haga
Photos by Sondre Aksnes Yggeseth

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As part of NMF’s youth lift, the PULSE south participants have introduced the project Øvingskollektivet (the practice collective). In this blog post, you will learn more about what this project is and what it is trying to achieve.

What is Øvingskollektivet and why is it important for the youth?

Øvingskollektivet is a new initiative from Norges Musikkorps Forbund (NMF), which is led by the PULSE South Participants. The project aims to empower young people with the skills to run evening programs, such as band music practice support and a self-study platform. These programs are open to that is open to all young musicians, no matter where they’re playing.

These activities are part of the Youth Lift, which is an NMF project that aims to develop and bring young people together through music, exercises, and other social activities. The project is targeting young people between the age of 13 and 19.

PULSE teaches children how to learn music without sheet music.
PULSE teaches children how to learn music without sheet music.

10 youths partook in this program, and they are now working as music study support along with PULSE at Bjølsen and Nordpolen youth lift project in Oslo every Monday and Thursday from 17:00 to 20:00.

PULSE playing games with children during breaks.
Implementation of social games.

Why are we providing running these programs?

We intends to create a platform for youth to self-practice, develop instrumental skills and reinforce the relationship between musicians. In addition, we are creating a safe space for our participants to learn new skills, where we can provide youth with inclusive methods of teaching and coaching. This is so that they can offer social support to the young children and advice in case of challenges.

PULSE assisting children with their band homework.
PULSE assisting children with their band homework.

What’s in it for the youth and the community at large? 

Through this project, PULSE aims to provide youth with inclusive methods of teaching and develop them into empathetic citizens who may continue to serve their communities in positive ways when they become adults. In addition, we are getting youth involved in community development. This is one of the major aims of this educational youth lift project.

Implementation of social games.
PULSE playing games with children during breaks.

What do NMF and PULSE plan going forward about the projects?  

PULSE will continue to be accountable and ensure that all children feel welcome, safe and help them become better musicians. We aim to keep this youth development program running for the next 5 years to further help youth with practicing their music in the evening.

Written by Lesley Sebola and Paseka Batshegi
Photos by Paseka Batshegi

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To be a Cultural Baby

Coming to a new country and culture can be a daunting experience. In this blog post, Ann Elise tells about her experience as a cultural baby in South Africa.

Last fall, me and a fellow student from the University of Bergen got to spend eight weeks doing an internship at the Field Band Foundation (FBF). We met so many new heroes who are truly trying to make a change in their communities. And next to all of this, we learned how to survive in one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Coming from Norway — the best country to live in according to the UN Development Report of 2022, and one of the 20 safest countries in the world according to the Global peace index — it is quite a change of mindset entering a place where you always need to keep your car doors locked and look out for hijackers or robbers when driving late at night. It is strange living in gated communities, with guards at the gate checking everyone coming in and out. We are not used to being careful about what neighborhood you go to, not to walk outside at night, constantly watching your stuff, and passing beggars at every crossroad. And these are just the necessary safety measures to survive. When moving to a new place, you also want to learn how to thrive. 

Learning to survive in a new culture

This feeling of learning to thrive in a new culture reminds me of visiting my new boyfriend and his family in the Netherlands the summer of 2016. He assured me that coming to the Netherlands would be very easy, as it was the culture most similar to the Norwegian culture. At least that is what the internet had told him.

Previously I had on several occasions been living in cultures that were quite different from my own, and I had been working in an international environment with a strong focus on cultural differences. The Netherlands was supposed to be piece of cake, right?

Turned out, it was not.

Learning to survive in a new culture can be almost as demanding as learning a new instrument.

Before entering the house of his family, I had been instructed in how to greet. In the Netherlands this is done by kissing the other person ever so slightly on the cheeks. In Norway we don’t but kissing as a way of greeting is not uncommon in Europe. Some places it is one kiss, other places two, and in this case it is three kisses. Meeting and greeting his family went very well but already at the dinner table the next day I was flung towards the greatest culture shock I have ever had.

The Dutch family all went silent and stared at the table. A few moments later they started looking at each other kind of suspiciously, uttered some, for me, completely unintelligent words, and started eating. I was confused, and the confusion continued. First, they ate the meat.

Only the meat!

Once the meat was consumed, the vegetables was next. Now, only the vegetables. I had heard this was a thing some places in Europe, but I did not expect to see it here.

As the family left the table, going about their day, I was stunned and had no idea what to do with myself. I thought I knew what eating dinner looked like. In the Netherlands, I had no clue what eating dinner looked like. This was the moment I realized I probably knew nothing about the Dutch way of doing things.

Being a cultural baby

Entering a new culture is kind of like being born again. Not in a religious sense, but as in learning how to be human all over. I found that— even in a culture very similar to my own — I had to re-learn basic life-skills like greeting, talking, eating, using water and electricity, taking the bus, and navigating traffic now full of bike lanes. Even trying to bake a cake turned out to be an adventure above and beyond as butter and flour is not just butter and flour like you know it from home. Further, one also has to figure out what is expected of you in different social contexts, like in Dutch birthday parties.

Then, there is also this major part about language. Though most Dutch people speak English very well – the Netherlands is the non-English speaking country with the highest English proficiency — they are not all necessarily very comfortable with it. Especially not around their friends. Every time I visited the Netherlands, I was surrounded by Dutch people who, more than once, would greet me politely in English before turning to my boyfriend and continue the conversation in Dutch. This meant I was not part of the conversation and spent the time either trying to guess an appropriate moment to break in with a question so I would seem like a social being, or just wait out the time by reflecting on the purpose of existence. Both is, I have to say, a bit exhausting at length.

Being the only non-speaker of the local language, it became very clear I was an outsider, and I very much felt like a cultural baby in need of constant guidance and explanations to be able to join the locals.

Learning to thrive in South Africa

South Africa was no different. In the very beginning, we even had driving lessons for driving on the left side of the road, not the right as we were used to. We had to get accustomed to tip everyone everywhere; the waiters, the guys helping us find a parking place and watching our car, the guys filling petrol at the gas stations, the guy cleaning your windshield at the streetlights even though you did not ask for it, the guys running over with parasols when it is raining, and more.

Getting up at 5 am on Saturday for long drives to performances was another shock, but that didn´t stop us from smiling.

We had to get used to pretending to always be doing fine. Cause ‘How are you’ is not really the question, it’s just a way of greeting. Even at the pharmacy standing there with infections and fever, you are always ‘doing good’. We’ve also had isiZulu lessons as part of getting to know the culture. It is one of the 11 official languages, and one containing clicking sounds – please do not ask for demonstrations.

Learning to survive and thrive in a new culture, where people act, think, and speak differently, takes time and requires a lot of attention and energy. This is, of course, all next to adjusting to a new work environment and work tasks. In the end, we did survive, and even though it was exhausting at times, the overall experience was amazing.

Through our work, we took part in workshops with tutors from different bands, leading sessions on work readiness and teaching skills. In these sessions, we teach the tutors about writing CVs and Motivational letters, as well as discussing important teacher and learner traits. This is important, both to improve their skills as tutors, but also to set them up for success in applying for jobs after their time in the FBF.

Hard work is a lot easier outside in nice weather but bucket hats are essential

We have been developing content for life skills lessons on mental health and domestic violence to be given to the children and teenagers. The life skills are an important part of the band rehearsals to promote well-being, resilience and inclusiveness in and among the members, setting them up to impact their communities in a positive way.

We have been introduced to the M&E (monitoring and evaluation) tools used in the organization, been sitting in on an endless number of meetings, and eaten a whole lot of the local vetkoeks (very tasty balls of deep-fried sweet dough).

We’ve also been visiting bands in some of the poorest areas of the province, watching incredible music and dance performances by youth that is clearly loving what they are doing. In addition, we have gotten to know the staff, who are possessing a great love for their work and for the members of the bands.

Nobody leaves a rehearsal without playing, no matter if you are a musician or not.

We left South Africa with a gratitude of all we have seen, experienced, learned, and the people we’ve gotten to know along the way. It is truly a beautiful place, full of beautiful people, and the Field Band Foundation is doing an amazing job giving youth an opportunity for a better life in some very poor areas.

Written by Ann Elise Reigem

Photos by Ann Elise Reigem, Jacob Mhlapeng, Sondre Aksnes Yggeseth and Franqo Ntshole

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Being a PULSE participant in South Africa

Every year since 2001, young Norwegians and South Africans have switched places to learn from each other’s cultures and ways of teaching music. This is what it is like to be a PULSE participant in the South African music organization Field Band Foundation.

Being part of an exchange project is quite a unique experience. You pack your bags and move to a new country and a new culture, usually quite different from the one you have spent your life surrounded by up to this point. This might sound like going on a really long vacation. But as an exchange participant, you are going abroad to work. So, in a way, your everyday life ends up being quite similar to your life back home. You wake up early, have your coffee and breakfast, go to work, and you usually come home about eight hours later. After work, you sometimes just want to spend the remainder of the day on the couch. This sounds like a normal day in Norway, and it is also partly how it is to be a PULSE participant in South Africa.

However, what you actually do in those eight hours of work is what makes the distinction. The FBF shares certain similarities with the Norwegian band tradition but is still rooted in a completely different philosophy. The main reason for this, I think, is because the Field Band Foundation (FBF) works with quite non-Norwegian issues.

Why are we in South Africa?

The FBF´s modus operandi is to ensure safe spaces rooted in musicking, where young people can foster personal development. It might not sound so non-Norwegian. After all, we also want to give our youth safe spaces to develop themselves, and we even try doing this through school bands and other music activities.

Sheet music is rare to find in a regular rehearsal, but staff in the field bands still learn to read music.

But if you have ever set your foot into the rehearsal of a Norwegian school band, you might have a mental image of a local high school auditorium filled with chairs and sheet music. The conductor goes on and on about the importance of practicing between rehearsals, and the band members even get private lessons in the local music school to improve their musical abilities. Everything is set up perfectly to train a new generation of brilliant musicians. And for many bands, training a new generation of virtuosos is their primary goal.

Now, let us move to the opposite side of the earth and the South African field bands. Here, you won´t find neither chairs nor sheet music. After school, children run out into the school yard or to a local community center. At the speed of light, tutors are putting the members to work with unloading instruments from the truck, so that they can finally start playing. For the next couple of hours, the members are taught through a “show and tell”-method more resembling a rock guitar player learning a song than any European brass or wind band.

South participant Lesley in action during a band visit to Springs Field Band

Even with these differences, the biggest difference from Norwegian bands is what the band members are encountering outside of the rehearsal. In Norway, the average child or youth at one point or another need to choose which leisure activities they wish to keep practicing. They will have to choose between band or football, dancing or horse riding. Some people skip all extracurricular activities to focus completely on their academic ambitions. They might prioritize going to a gym for health, wellbeing, and aesthetic purposes, or they might focus all their spare-time on a part-time job.

And there are activities like these in South Africa as well. Still, an enormous percentage of the youth end up spending their evenings out in the streets. In disadvantaged communities, the road from street life to drugs, crime and violence is terribly short. This shows in some of South Africa´s bleak statistics. 33 percent of the population is unemployed, and among people between the age of 15 and 24, that number is at 53 percent. A large number of South Africans are living with HIV/AIDS, and the prevalence of violent crime is quite shocking to the outside world. In addition, social ills like drug abuse and teenage pregnancies are flourishing. This is all surrounded by a context of extreme social differences, where the split between poor and rich is immense.

What do we do?

The FBF primarily operate in these disadvantaged communities, where the needs for safe spaces and good role models are huge. However, the mission of providing these safe spaces and role models demand a variety of skills and tasks to be accomplished. This is reflected in the work week of a PULSE participant.

Even though the majority of our work is done in the office, we still spend quite a bit of time out in the field.

We awake to the beauty of South African sunshine, make our coffee and breakfast, before we drive to our head office. From here, we try to do our part in bettering the services that the FBF is offering to band members and the communities around our bands. Planning workshops, writing music theory manuals, designing e-learning courses, and providing general support to the staff in different bands is all part of the job.

While we are working in the head office, the staff in bands all over South Africa is planning the day´s rehearsal. Tutors and Band Coordinators are running through the music, while the Project officer is taking care of logistics and other administrative tasks. Instruments have to be transported back and forth, and reports must be written frequently. Meanwhile, the Social Officers are doing their job to ensure the wellbeing of band members. They are planning how best to teach different life skills during the upcoming rehearsal, while also doing home visits and following up on band members to make sure they are safe outside of the rehearsals as well.

Members of the Birchleigh field band ready to perform

The work we do as PULSE participants is all in order to support the activities that are happening out in the bands, or in the field. The goal of this long-lasting exchange project has been to better the holistic learning environments in both the FBF and in the Norwegian Band Federation (NMF) through mutual exchange of knowledge. To make this happen in the FBF, we rely on the brilliant execution of our administrative work at the head office by the staff in the field.

What do we do after work?

An equally important part of our work in South Africa is to learn from the actual culture of this beautifully interesting country. This happens when we have vetkoek for breakfast or cow head for lunch. It happens when we go to a concert Wednesday afternoon or enjoy a glass of Cape wine with dinner. When Friday arrives, we put aside e-learning, blog posts, event planning and reports to enjoy a proper South African weekend. The weekends showcase the vibrance of this country, with markets and “braais” around every corner.

Enjoying some South African food, like chicken feet, is just part of the job.

As a Norwegian, I am amazed by how early in the morning South Africans are starting their Saturdays and Sundays. The malls and shopping centers are usually packed before the average Norwegian has even considered leaving their bed. By 10 o´clock, the suburbs are full of people enjoying their brunch, and the public braai stands are already smoking in every village and township. The city centers are filled with markets showcasing the finest of African culture, whether it be food or arts and crafts. In Norway, Sunday is a day of calmness and hiking. Here, the fire is burning hotly all the way to Monday morning. As PULSE participants, we take the term “when in Rome” to heart, and our Sundays have gotten a lot busier since moving south of the equator. And we love every second of it.

We are about halfway through our year as PULSE participants, and the stream of impressions and core memories seem never-ending. Images of smiling children at rehearsals, dedicated colleagues going above and beyond for the FBF, and the smell of spiced meat on the Braai stand will be staying with us for as long as we live. Despite all the challenges that South Africa is facing, you can´t help falling in love with such a vibrant nation. And it is a true honor to have the opportunity of making this beautiful country a slightly better place for the generations to come, one PULSE team at the time.

Written by Sondre Aksnes Yggeseth
Photos by Sondre Aksnes Yggeseth and Franqo Ntshole

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Why our tutors are so important?

A large part of the PULSE project is the education of musical tutors from bands all over South Africa. In this blog post, we want to give you a bit of insight into the tutor programme and how a recent tutor workshop played out.

What is a tutor in the Field Band Foundation?

A tutor is, in short, a music educator who teaches a specific section in the field band — either brass, pitched (pit) percussion, unpitched percussion or dance — to the band members. This is a hugely important task, as they are the ones teaching the members how to actually play their instrument. Their close interaction with the members also makes them accessible role models. Because of this, they are useful links in the communication and relationship between the organisation at large and its members.

Because of this crucial role in the band, it is important to upskill the tutors, both in terms of their musical skills and their educational ability. Through the tutor programme, PULSE participants and educators at the FBF aim to do just that.

Training the tutors

So how do we work with upskilling the tutors? Firstly, we focus on skills which directly translates to their working life as music educators. For instance, one of the central sections in this workshop was a music theory exam in association to ABRSM (Association Board of the Royal Schools of Music). Music theory is an extremely useful skill to understanding and communicating music effectively. And even though the field band focuses on teaching through a more oral and less theoretically focused approach, being able to understand written sheet music and using more advanced musical vocabulary is important for tutors to further self-educate as musicians.

In addition to the exam, the recent workshops also encompassed sessions on conducting, arranging, and teaching skills. Once again, these are all skills relevant to the tutor’s daily working life. The goal is that they will be able to arrange a piece of music, teach it effectively to the band members, and then conducting the members when playing said piece.

On top of these sessions, we ended each day with a full band rehearsal. During these sessions, we prepare more challenging pieces for the tutors to perform and conduct. Here they get the possibility to strengthen their practical skills as musicians. It is also a great way of building relations between musicians, as research has proven the power of musicking when it comes to building bonds between humans. This is also a central part of the Field Band Foundation´s and the PULSE project´s underlying philosophy.

Beyond the music

The Field Band Foundation is not only a music organization, but also an organization which aims to build resilient youth and create safe spaces for them to develop. Because of this, we also have a collaboration with the Afrika Tikkun initiative, which helps band members gain the knowledge, certifications, and experience necessary to step into future employment. During the workshop, Afrika Tikkun presented their services to the tutors. In relation to this presentation, we made room for a couple of sessions on work readiness. This entails going through the processes and formalities of applying for work, like writing a motivational letter or making a resume.

The sessions on teaching skills also went further than teaching music. As role models in the bands, the tutors are crucial for ensuring safe spaces for the band members. Because of this, they learn how to teach the band members about life skills as well as how to support the band members through life´s challenges. Not only is this equally important to the music, but the music is also a tool to build confidence and resilience in the band members. Through the teaching skills sessions, the tutors were able to discuss and share experiences related to their work as educators.

This workshop turned out to be a success and culminated in a concert during in front of a field band in Setlabotjha. Here, the tutors and facilitators joined forces to perform the music which was rehearsed during the full band sessions. The Setlabotjha field band also performed some pieces for us, and we were blown away by the energy and musical joy the band communicated to us. Not only was this a great opportunity for us as facilitators to experience the bands more closely and the tutors to be inspired by a different band than their own, but it gave the band of Setlabotjha the chance to test their repertoire int front of an audience.

You can read even more about our tutor programme workshops here.

Written by Sondre Aksnes Yggeseth

Photos by Sondre Aksnes Yggeseth

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FeriePULSE — What is it and why is it useful?

What is FeriePULSE and how can it help making banding activities more inclusive? Read along and learn more about this festive initiative.

FeriePULSE is an initiative from Norges Musikkorps Forbund, which is led by facilitators from Norway and South Africa. The project aims to teach children and young people how to express themselves through inclusive music and movement-based activities from different cultures, regardless of their musical background.

For years, NMF has focused on working with children during vacations, especially children and young people who, for various reasons, are not traveling or participating in other activities.

Thulani Maluleke (PULSE facilitator) shows executives how to play PBuzz during the leadership seminar.
Thulani Maluleke (PULSE facilitator) shows executives how to play PBuzz during the leadership seminar.

This year, NMF approached the FeriePULSE concept in a new way by inviting different band leaders to a leadership seminar in Oslo. The seminar was attended by conductors, interns, and teachers from bands all over Norway, as well as parents and other stakeholders.

Among the band leaders at the seminars were six PULSE participants from South Africa. We presented our methods of getting members to stay in the band longer and making band rehearsal attractive to improve band membership, namely playing while dancing or moving.

Southern participants show how to lighten the band environment by playing and dancing.
Southern participants show how to lighten the band environment by playing and dancing.

The aim of this seminar was to empower and equip the participants with the skills and methods used in FeriePULSE. Through such seminars, NMF hopes to make the band environment even more inclusive and attractive: Using inclusive arrangements, creative movements, and social games, band leaders learn how to make bands safe spaces where youth can freely develop.

The band leaders fully embraced the seminar and came way out of their comfort zone. In the end, they returned home inspired to bring FeriePULSE to their bands. This is already happening since some managers have already hosted the FeriePULSE and have been successfully implemented.

Beret (PULSE facilitator) shares methods to make the band environment a fun place to be.
Beret (PULSE facilitator) shares methods to make the band environment a fun place to be.

NMF is planning another leadership seminar in 2023 to teach band leaders methods they can use in their bands to make rehearsals inclusive and attractive and to increase attendance.

Written by Lesley Sebola

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Movement Workshop

The Field Band Foundations’ (FBF) vision and goal are to create empowered, resilient, and self-confident young people who are opportunity-ready and who contribute towards creating a more inclusive society. All this is through the medium of music and dance.

All 9 dance tutors who attended the workshop

When you stumble upon a Field band, you hear the magical African rhythms with percussion and marimbas and yet powerful brass instruments. If you’re having a closer look, you see the icing on the cake; the dancers. Delicate moves, smiling faces, and charisma out of this world.  With no dancers, there is no Field Band. 

FBF dancers from a performance in October. Alexandra Field Band

For a long time, Field Band Education (FBE) and PULSE have facilitated a lot of tutor workshops. These have been much more accommodating for the music tutors, and the dance tutors have for a long time been standing on the side. That is why FBE and PULSE these last few years have organized workshops just for the dance tutors. We want to show them that they are appreciated and that they also should get a lot out of working for FBF. In week 43 we held a movement workshop where the dance tutors got a whole week working on choreography, different dance styles such as contemporary African dance and afro-fusion. At the end of the week, they were accredited with a certificate. 

Teboho Letele from the company “Moving into Dance” was the facilitator for the dancers. “Moving into Dance» is a professional dance institution established in 1978. A cultural activist called Sylvia Glasser started teaching racially integrated dance classes in the 1970’s. This was during the height of Apartheid. This led to the establishment of “Moving into Dance”. As you can see, this dance institution is a well-established company that has kept going for a long time, and we are very happy to work with them to educate and up-skill our dancers.

Teboho and the dance tutors

In addition to the movement sessions, we facilitated sessions about life skills, teaching skills, and work readiness. In these sessions, they were taught how to write CVs, motivational letter, and other skills which they also will receive feedback on. The main goal for FBF is to see that their employees and former employees are successful in pursuing their career opportunities and are successful in life. 

Ann Elise facilitating teaching skills

Moving forward, there will be annual movement workshops so that the tutors can continue developing and bringing back new ideas for the bands they are working in, sharing ideas, making new choreographies and moving the Field Bands to a new level. 

Written by: Hanna Bakke Negård

Pictures by: Sondre Aksnes Yggeseth and Hanna Bakke Negård

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Meet the PULSE team of 2022-2023

Another year, another exchange team. The PULSE team of 2022-2023 have already gotten well into their posting periods, and it´s time to let you know a little more about us.

South participants

Paseka Samson Batshegi is 28 years old and he has been a part of the field band since 2007. His family has a history of being brass players, and Paseka is no different. He found his way to the trumpets in the Soweto Field Band in his early teens. Since then, he has made his way through the FBF pipeline. In 2015 he went to the Field Band Academy — a former educational institution for members of the Field Band Foundation. A year later he stepped up and became a brass tutor, and he has since been a Band coordinator as well. Now he is once again ready for a new challenge, going on exchange to Norway.

— I joined PULSE because I want to share my experience and knowledge about different methods of teaching music.

In addition to this, Paseka also wishes to learn more about a new country and culture. He hopes to meet new friends, and experience different ways of using brass instruments. His hope is to thereby learn more about new genres of music and different ways of arranging music.

Vuyani Mukandi, also known as Vuvu, is a true veteran of the FBF. He has been a member since his youth, and has also held different positions as staff in the FBF for the past sixteen years. In 2009 he went to Norway to study at Toneheim Folkehøgskole. This year he is returning to the country up north, this time as a PULSE participant.

—I joined Pulse because I wanted to continue growing as an individual, I want to grow in my work as an employee of the Field Band and I want to continue to fly the Field Band flag and South African flag in Norway.

During this second exchange, Vuyani hopes to grow musically as a trumpet player and as music arranger. As part of his goals, he also aims to learn new skills, as well as building a network in Norway. He also wishes to make an impact to better the projects future outlook.

— I aim to give PULSE the best Vuvu with my work throughout this year, so that the foundation for the future participants is solid.

Sthembiso Mncube has been a dancer in the Field Band Foundation since 2003. With close to 20 years of experience in different bands, she is a strong card on PULSE´s hand this year. Since her start as a young dancer, she has since gone on to study at the Field Band Academy, as well as being a choreographer and dance tutor in various bands. Because of this, she has been a central part in the FBF dance community.

— I started to work with creating a Dewali Festival show with the dance members from Alexandra. Since then my experience has been growing as a dancer and choreographer.

Sthembiso applied for PULSE to be an agent of change in the project. She is an extroverted firework of a person who spreads joy wherever she goes. She hopes to positively influence the people she meets in Norway with her bubbly personality. Norway offers an unknown culture and language, but Sthembiso believes that she will be able to inspire people with the help of social and leadership skills attained through her years in the Field Band.

— Norway is a different country and people, but the Norwegians are not so different from everyone I have met before. So once I understand the culture and language, I will then learn what is my personal purpose in life. 

Lesley Sebola is a 30 year old percussionist from Limpopo. He has been a part of the Field band for 14 years, in which he has taken the steps from being a band member, a tutor and later a band coordinator. Now Lesley has taken yet another step on his journey, and he is currently working as a PULSE participant in Norway.

— I applied for the PULSE project in order to develop my professional skills, experience personal growth and gain insight into other cultures.

Lesley was previously part of the Field Band Academy, where he obtained impressive certifications in both music performance, music theory, and even computer literacy skills. In Norway he wishes to learn even more in these fields, as well as diving into arranging and composition.

— With these skills, I hope to become a leader who can take the Field Band forward.

Peter Maluleke is one of the veterans in the FBF system. His experience in the FBF is vast and diverse. He joined in 2004 playing the euphonium and baritone, and has since made his way through the FBF pipeline. He started off working as a low brass tutor, but has since then been a band coordinator and project officer in several different field bands. In addition, he was one of the first students at the Field Band Academy. These last couple of years he has been working at the FBF head office, as an education facilitator.

— My background is in running workshops and teaching music theory and life skills before I joined the PULSE team.

In 2012, Peter went on his first exchange to Norway with the Bands Crossing Borders (BCB) project. Since then, Peter has worked closely with NMF and FBF through their exchange programme, as a member of the FBF education department. Now he is once again a participant in this exchange.

— I felt that there is a need for me to go back to Norway to share my skills, and I saw room for me to grow more in various aspects to improve my work through this programme.

Letitia Thembeka Joe is in a unique position in the current PULSE team. One specific position in this year’s team has been dedicated to having a social officer be part of the exchange. This posistion is being filled by Thembeka, who have left her home town Hanover in the Northern Cape in order to explore a new culture in Norway.

— I want to learn more new things that will make me grow personally and work wise so that I can go back and share my knowledge with my people in South Africa.

Thembeka was new to the FBF when she became a social officer in Hanover Field band back in 2019. In this work, she was able to be an important adult in the members life. Being in this position while still being in her early 20s says something about Thembeka´s social skills and emotional intelligence. She was even promoted to the position of project officer in that same band in 2021. She has also achieved her Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) through her work at FBF. Even though she is taking another step beyond her beginings as a social officer, her values still remain the same.

— I am that individual who believe and serve a purpose on helping those who are in need to cope and improve their quality of life, make a positive impact in someone’s life.

North Participants

Mette Dahl Hanssen is 25 years old and she grew up surrounded by school bands. The last couple of years she´s been studying both music and special needs education, which has set her up very well for a year as a PULSE participant. With additional experience as a conductor and tutor, she has packed her french horn and made her way down to South Africa.

— My goal is to come back with new skills that can improve my work with in Norwegian bands, so that I can engage the children I teach in new and better ways.

In PULSE, Mette is responsible of coordinating further development of the FBF’s digital resources, like their e-learning platform and sheet music archive. Throughout a day at work, she runs from meetings with web designers to teaching the members out in the field. All of these different tasks work together to better the holistic learning environment that PULSE facilitates.

— It feels incredibly meaningful to give these kids the music education that they deserve.

Sondre Aksnes Yggeseth is a 26 years old guitar player with a Master´s Degree in Musicology. However, he has spent most of his working life in the field of communications, after working with communications in several voluntary organisations during his university education. These two opposing backgrounds have finally joined hands in perfect harmony within the framework of the PULSE exchange project.

— Through PULSE, I have the possibility to use my experience with voluntary organisations and communications, while at the sam time being able to fully embrace my nature as a music nerd. It is truly a unreal opportunity.

As a PULSE participant, Sondre is coordinating the project’s external communications and networking activities. Getting the local community around the bands as well as potential partners involved in the bands activities is a large part of the PULSE project, and something Sondre will focus heavily on. In addition, he is using his musical experience and skills together with the rest of the PULSE team in working with the bands themselves.

— I am really fascinated by how all of our work comes together in order to reach one common goal: Giving children and youth safe spaces for personal development through musicking.

Hanna Bakke Negård is a 34 year old trombone player with an impressive musical track record. After playing in bands all of her youth, she moved on to study music at both Toneheim folkehøyskole and Griegakademiet in Bergen, before getting a Bachelor´s Degree in Radiology. While at Toneheim, she encountered four young musicians on exchange from South Africa. In 2017, she herself went on that very same exchange from Norway to South Africa. Now she is back again once more.

— I applied for my second exchange because I wanted to experience fulfillment through working with something different than what I usually do.

Since her last exchange, Hanna has worked as a radiologist. In PULSE, she is also working with health promoting work through the lens of musicking. In particular, she is using her unique experience as a second-time participant as the main contact person between the bands and the PULSE work that happens at the FBF head office. This results in a diverse schedule throughout the working week.

— Some days we are busy with meetings and administrative tasks, while on other days we are working hands on with the bands through workshops and educational band visits. That is something I really enjoy.

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Tutor Programme and Social Officer Programme

The month of February was a busy and highly educational month for the Field Band Foundation (FBF) staff members.

February kick-started with the Tutor Programme workshop, which was followed by the Social Officer workshop. Both workshops were organized and facilitated by the PULSE South Participants with the help of FBF Education facilitator Peter Maluleke. The workshops were hosted at the Container House in Parys next to the Vaal River.

The tutor Programme commenced on 14-02-2021 and it promised to be a week filled with music and the learning of productive skills, which enhances the tutor’s ability to do their work. There were 20 participants from 10 FBF bands, excited and ready to be engaged through music and leadership activities. Sessions started every morning with team-building activities to strengthen friendships and build trust amongst the participants. Other activities and lessons learned during the workshop were music arranging which was led by Khaya Benela, music theory led by Peter Maluleke and Khaya Benela, full-band session led by Tebogo Ntshole, and concert production led by Jacob Mhlapeng.

Khaya Benela teaching music theory

Previously, the goal of this programme was to upskill the newly appointed tutors with leadership skills and artistic knowledge, but in the most recent workshops, we also added topics like concert production, communication skills, creative writing, and events management. These topics will assist tutors in doing their work better in the FBF, as well as preparing them for work outside FBF.

Tebogo Ntshole(Franqo) during teaching skills sessions

Different follow-up tasks were given to the participants to do at home and when they get to their respective bands. These tasks will enable the participants to put everything they have learned into practice. Participants are expected to read their music theory, write and record a music piece that they will present in the next tutor workshop, as well as to create a ten-minute facilitation session based on everything that they have learned during the workshop.

Tebogo Ntshole Conducting instrumental skills sessions
FBF Social Officers

The Social Officer(SO) workshop commenced on 28-Feb-2022, it was held at the Container House in the Free State. 11 participants from 10 bands were represented in this workshop, and after many years of having female SO, we were proud to have a male SO within the group. The workshop was facilitated by Tebogo Ntshole and Jacob, assisted by Khaya Benela and Peter Maluleke.

Amanda Holt facilitates the Coaching session

Various external facilitators were invited to facilitate several topics that will enable the SOs to be more effective and knowledgeable when executing their duties. Topics that were covered are coaching, life skills planning, doing and reporting sessions, team building, creating community resource lists and community mapping, how to facilitate LGBT+ guides, and most exciting; there was a Marimba playing session. In this session SO’s were allowed to learn how to play Marimba. This session pushed them out of their comfort zone as many of them had no musical experience.

Wanda Olivier upskilling the Social Officers

Overall this workshop proved to be productive, as there is a big and visible improvement in the way the SOs report on the work that they did, and we are planning to do weekly virtual meetings to assist and give support to all the SOs.

Author: Jacob Mhlapeng

Photos: Tebogo Ntshole and Jacob Mhlapeng

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