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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Music for every one

Regardless of individual challenges and difficulties, all young people deserve to have equal opportunities when it comes to enjoying their musical hobbies, thriving at their chosen instrument, or even making it a career.

In fact, Article 31 of United Nation Convention on the Rights of Children states that children have the right to rest and leisure, the right to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. The UN Committee endorses the view «that it is through cultural life and the arts that children and their communities express their specific identity and the meaning they give to their existence.”

Children with disabilities may be hindered in various ways from participating freely. A drummer in a wheelchair may need practical assistance, a student with impaired learning abilities may need a little extra time and effort.  Every child is an individual and has individual needs. These challenges can be overcome with the right tools and knowledge.

These are some of the issues tackled in a new article published on the NMF website this month.

Members of the PULSE team have been hard at work assisting in the making of the article, written by Guro Solbakken in cooperation with NMF.

Read the full article here:

[Article in Norwegian]

[Article translated to English]

Guro Solbakken

Guro Solbakken will host an online meeting (in Norwegian) on this topic on March 09 2021, for anyone wanting to learn more.

[link Norwegian]

[link English]

Author: Gorm Helford

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Meet the 2022 PULSE team

2022 is well underway and so is the new PULSE team. 

A hearty blend of people from the high North and the deep South,  both experienced and fresh in the organization, the team appears to be getting along like a house on fire. The first couple of weeks working together were characterized by hundreds of smiles, thousands of pieces of knowledge, and millions of bytes of digital information.

In the year ahead this team will tackle tasks of both Field Band Foundation (FBF) and Norges Musikkorps Forbund (NMF) and will do so largely without meeting in person. After two years of a global pandemic, the digital workspace has been the new standard. This does not come without a set of challenges, even for the PULSE team which is accustomed to working across borders. Expressing personalities, humor, and office atmosphere in the digital realm is a different dynamic from what it is in the physical realm. But we adapt and we adjust and have learned that the digital workspace does not have to be lonely, nor does it have to be boring.

In 2022, the South Participants remain the same as last year with the quartet of Jacob Mhlapeng, Tebogo Ntshole, Khayalethu Benela, and Nomkhosi Mnisi making up the core, and the North Participants are Sofia Mahan, Nicholas Bahrawy who are now joined by Sara Brygfjeld, and Gorm Helfjord.

Author: Gorm Helford

Picture: Gorm Helford

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Field Band Foundation and Norges Musikkorp Forbund celebrate 20 years of partnership.

On November 27, the 20th-anniversary event was held. Distinguished guests and the honored alumni from Bands Crossing Borders (BCB) and PULSE gathered to reminisce, catch up and meet old friends. With the even being streamed in both Norway and South Africa, to each other gathering, we all got to see familiar faces of friends and colleagues.

The planning and nitty-gritty of this event have been going on for a while now, and on Friday 26, the PULSE north team met up to finalize the plans and go over the program. For some, Ingrid and Nicholas, it was the first time they met in person, marking that day as a special one as well.
Saturday started early with meeting up at the event venue, Kulturhuset, where a room had been booked for most of the day. Before the alumni arrived to practice the music they were playing during the live stream of the event, time was spent decorating the room.

The PULSE north team, with the help of Rune Hannisdal and Birgitte Grong, blew up balloons, hung up lines of lights, decorated them with Flags, banners, and confetti. Also present was not one, but two Gira figures, one cannot have an event like this and not include our beloved Gira.
Even dressed in their Bunad, the Norwegian national costume, Rune and Birgitte climbed ladders and stood on benches and tables to help hang up the different decorations.

After a few hours of decorating, the alumni started showing up, meeting a few hours before the event started to learn the music and basic choreography. The alumni chatted and mingled, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Since all of them have been a part of the exchange program, they all had something to talk about. Similar or different experiences, working with the same bands, training with the same people. The time was not spent practicing was almost exclusively used to talk and listen about each other’s experiences.
Thulani Maluleka was the man in charge of the music during the event, and what energy that man brings! His energy and love for music rubbed off on anyone near him, and it showed in the alumni, who seemed to have a great time during the practice, as the laughter sat quite loose as they played, sang, and danced.

Not long before the event was scheduled to start, the most prominent guest arrived. The South African Ambassador to Norway, the distinguished Ms. Selaelo Ramokgopa.
Her retinue and herself were met by Rune and Birgitte, who greeted them and told them about what to expect from the event, before walking her to her front-row seat. When the event began, everyone present in the room had their eyes on the stage, where the live stream from the event in Johannesburg went live.

It was wonderful seeing the alumni react to seeing old friends again; everyone smiled and pointed out when they recognized those they had worked with, a long time ago, or more recently for some. Field Band Foundation put on a marvelous show, with great speeches and even better music. After their live stream ended, it was only a matter of minutes before the NMF and PULSE stream in Norway began. It was not hard to tell the excitement in the room rising as everyone prepared to go give their speeches or put on a stage show.
The ambassador herself even came on stage and gave a great speech about her excitement for the PULSE program. She gave thanks to everyone for a wonderful evening and congratulated and applaud the long history of the partnership between NMF and FBF, 20 years, it is no small thing.

As the event drew to a close, it was time for the big reveal, The Impact Exhibition. This is a collaborative work from NMF and FBF, created by Boiler Room, and is a digital museum of sorts.
In it, you can find the history and impact of the BCB/PULSE program, with text plaques, videos, pictures, and musical arrangements. It is the collective history from the start of the program and up until the present, starting all the way back in 2001. You can find pictures of all the alumni and you can explore the different rooms it offers. In total, it has currently 113 items you can interact with, it is a repository of knowledge and memories. You can find information about the participants, about Gira, you can read academic papers linked to music and the exchange program or you can relax and go to the listening booth, where musical arrangements from both countries are present.

Before you start*

  • It can take some time to load, several minutes possibly, have patience and it will load.
  • It does not work on phones
  • Use WASD to move around, just like in a game. W-forward, A-left, D-right, S-backwards
  • Press space to mute the music, press it again to start it over again.
  • Use the mouse to look around and the left mouse button to interact with the items you want to.

Follow this link to enter the Impact exhibition and explore it on your own.

In South Africa, the celebrations began on Friday the 26th  with BCB and PULSE alumni preparing for the main event. They had a practice session whereby they played three South African traditional songs(Ubuhle bendoda, ziyawa and Stamp) and Ukhamba, which is an original composition written by Ndabo Zulu(BCB and PULSE alumni) and Magnus Murphy Joelson from Norway. Later that evening the alumni gathered for dinner and shared wonderful memories from the exchange program and Field Band Foundation.

On Saturday the main event started with the preparation for the digital live streaming. Soundcheck, visuals, and music were practiced. When the time arrived, streaming began in South Africa. The program was filled with speeches and musical items from the alumni and distinguished guests. The event opened with a speech from Nicky du Plessis(FBF CEO), welcoming everyone who has attended this auspicious and historical event. The main song of the day(Ukhamba) was presented and conducted by  Ndabo Zulu.  Before rendering the piece Ndabo gave a speech about his experience being in the BCB and PULSE exchange program and talked about how this program has helped to shape his life.

Here is a YouTube link to the alumni video practicing for the event.

After Ukhamba was played, Thuli Mpse ( FBF chairperson)  did a speech, thanking the support that is given to this exchange program and wishing NMF and FBF on this partnership. Nicky, Eva, and Thuli popped the balloons which were filled with confetti in celebrating this remarkable event. The master of ceremony thanked everyone in Norway for watching the streaming and a few moments later audients from South Africa were enjoying the festivities broadcasted live from Oslo, Norway.

After the streaming took place, FBF continued the festivities with the tribal council. The FBF project leaders from all regions did presentations about their regions and lit the touches that symbolized hope and prosperity in their respected communities. Project leaders read messages from their different stakeholders and staff members. A lovely performance was rendered by the FBF staff entertaining the guests who attended the event. It was followed by an award ceremony whereby individuals and groups who did well during this year were awarded different prizes and acknowledgments.

Authors: Nicholas Bahrawy and Jacob Mhlapeng

Pictures: Nomkhosi Mnisi, Nicholas Bahrawy and Merethe Flaate

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September the month of Curiosity filled with activities

The theme for September was Curiosity. The word itself speaks of peaked interest and of seeking out something new and unknown. Which is exactly what the PULSE South team was in the process of facilitating. Throughout most of September, workshops were held, with a focus on the Tutor Programme, video workshop with B# (sharp), and Music & Movement which has incorporated dance accreditation facilitated by a dance company called Moving Into Dance. There was also facilitation for RPL – Recognition of Prior Learning which is an accreditation for facilitation.  This facilitation was directed to senior tutors and band coordinators.

Khaya Benela teaching music theory during Tutor Programme

 Workshops were held at the Container House which is situated near the banks of one of the biggest rivers in South Africa called the Vall river. The first workshop held was a Tutor Programme which was closely followed by a Music and Movement workshop. The Tutor Programme started on 31 of August 2021 and lasted for six days which including two days of videography. The Main content covered at the Tutor Programme was Music theory, Events planning, Communication session, Conducting, and Instrumental skills. There was also a full band session whereby all the participants came together and practiced music in preparation for the concert at the end of the workshop.  During the workshop, a motivation station was erected to write motivational quotes and morally boost each other’s confidence. A wellness group was also formed so that it will assist and remind the participants about the COVID-19 regulations. This group played a vital role as it is the one responsible for making sure that everyone is sanitizing every 20 minutes and the COVID-19 registers are properly every day.

Tebogo Ntshole During a conducting session

Soon the Tutor Programme, Music and Movement workshop commenced with a two-day workshop of videography. It was followed by PULSE and Education content which comprised of Conducting, Music theory, Music arrangement, Tutor in a Training session, RPL and Moving Into Dance accreditation, and full band sessions. The workshop started on 06.09.2021 and lasted for eight days. Major highlights of this workshop were the fact that there were external facilitators from different sectors of the entertainment industry.

Moving Into Dance brought two world-class dance facilitators by the name of Tebogo Letele and Oscar Buthelezi. Both of these facilitators possess international dance experience and awards under their belts. They worked tirelessly with the Field Band Foundation dance tutors. At the end of the workshop, these dancers were awarded certificates of accreditation for Moving Into Dance which is certified by SETA-Sector Education and Training Authority.

FBF dancers awarded with MID certificates

In conjunction with MID, RPL was running on the side. All the band coordinators and seniors who were at the workshop participated in these sessions. These sessions lasted for 2 days with a follow-up work whereby the participants were required to submit assignments after the workshop. During these sessions, participants were taught different facilitation skills and to combine a portfolio of evidence to prove that they possess facilitation skills and indeed they have facilitated.

Thabo Mosime practiced facilitating during the RPL session

As an external facilitator, we also had Godfrey Molele who is an ex-Field Band member and a Project Officer. Godfrey was a great help in both Tutor Programme and Music and Movement workshop. He was facilitating the Pit section which is Marimba, Steel drums, and percussions. He was also instrumental in documenting the workshop activities by taking pictures and videos during the sessions.

Tshepiso and Sherwin during a Tutor Programme workshop

The PULSE South Participants are currently assisting the senior tutors and Band coordinators with their RPL work.  They will be going out to different projects around the country to check up if the RPL work is in order and it is ready to be submitted to relevant authorities. During the band visit, the team will also be facilitating Focus Group Discussions with the project teams they are visiting and will be doing a general band observation followed by evaluations. In November, the last Tutor Program for the year will be hosted by the PULSE team. Participants will be writing ABRSM Grade 1 exams and a panel exam as well. We are confident that these tutors will do us proud by passing their exams with flying colors and we wish them all the best.

Participants paying P-Buzzers

In Norway, FeriePULSE has been held in several cities already. The events started in July for Bergen and in early August for Skien and Ålesund.
Participants attended every day from 09:00 to 15:30. During this time, they practiced playing instruments (some for the first time!), dance, and twirling. In the breaks, they were allowed to go play outside or sit down and relax, making new friends and acquaintances as the days progressed.  
Solvor, Sofia, and Nicholas from the PULSE North team participated as instructors and assistants during the FeriePULSE in Bergen, while Sofia also joined the FeriePULSE team in Ålesund.
Solvor and Sofia worked directly with the children, teaching them music and keeping them entertained during the breaks and during rehearsals. Nicholas taught the instructors and praktikants basic first, aid and he took on the job of documenting the choreography and music that the children were taught.

Participants singing during Ferie-PULSE concert

FeriePULSE has an overarching goal of being a fun and engaging holiday activity where children can learn the joys of musicking. It is also a gateway for the participants to get a feel of what being a part of a band is all about. Learning about inclusion and tolerance is a good way of giving the children resilience against prejudice and ignorance. FeriePULSE is an event for everyone, no matter their background or physical limitations. Teaching the children that everyone can contribute in their own way is a goal that the PULSE team takes pride in.

The praktikants have, throughout the events, worked closely with the kids and the instructors to get everything together for the closing concert that was held on the last day of FeriePULSE in the respective cities. Giving them the experience will help them have confidence in their own musicking skills, something they can bring with them to their own bands.  The praktikants completed two evenings of online coaching before meeting in person a few days before FeriePULSE started. In the online course, they were taught about inclusion, the importance of being a good role model, conflict solving, and what is expected of them during FeriePULSE. During the concert on the final day, the role of addressing the audience was given to two praktikants. They did a great job of introducing what musicking is and explaining what FeriePULSE means to us who work with it and why we strive to keep it going year after year.

Confidence and musicking need a layered approach, as there are so many different aspects to take into consideration. It’s not as simple as asking, “did your confidence grow after being a part of FeriePULSE?”.
Therefore, it is important that the teaching be nuanced in the way that children are taught. Everyone learns differently, and some catch on faster than others; the praktikants did a great job of patiently explaining and teaching the children in a way that they could understand.
They had several different sessions a day, with different teachers, though each group of participants had a pair of praktikants following them all week. It was also not mandatory to participate in the sessions, if a child decided to take a break or wanted to play instead of rehearsing, they were allowed to do so.
Learning and teaching should not feel forced and mandatory, which is why the children were, within limitations, given free rein to have fun and be active during most of the sessions

Authors: Nicholas Bahrawy and Jacob Mhlapeng

Pictures: Jacob Mhlapeng, Godfery Molele and Nicholas Bahrawy

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