«Up and down. Up and down». Five tutors and two pale Norwegians are gathered for sessions at the Mimosa Park in Parys, Free State. Among curious onlookers we stand in a circle under a huge old tree and go up and down on our toes to the rhythm of Tirelo`s voice. Tirelo is the dance tutor for the Parys and Vredefort Field Bands, and he has decided to teach us some basics. «I have observed that you have very stiff hips in the previous sessions, so i shall now teach you a hip exercise to make you more flexible» says Tirelo. He bends over and makes big circles with his hips. Everyone laughs, and imitates Tirelo.
Some hours later, me and Anne go to observe a rehearsal in Vredefort. The band is split into groups, and we observe several groups going up and down on their toes, or making circles with their hips. No one has told them to repeat what Tirelo has taught them about dance basics, so we ask the tutors why they do these exercises. The brass tutors talks about how it’s good for making the brass players move better when they dance and march. The pit and percussion tutor replies that you need to have a good physique to not get tired while playing. Gugu the brass tutor is teaching beginners in percussion today. He had learned a drum stick exercise from the percussion tutor at the session, and combined this with some rhythm exercises he often uses with the brass.
It’s funny how many perceive teachers of doing one way communication. Most of my school education was based on this. One teacher telling me knowledge to remember. When we were told that we could not be teachers here in South Africa, we had to think outside the box. We decided to let the tutors teach each other in the session. Overall, they have a very different band culture than the Norwegian, and we don’t want them to change into a Norwegian model that doesn’t fit them. We took the role as organizers asking questions that would inspire to solve problems. The only thing we told the tutors during the Mimosa session was that they had to teach the group something, and then tell us why they did it. What we experienced, was that the Free State team was supporting and teaching each other, inspiring each other, and learning common knowledge on how the Free State tutor team was teaching their students. We are on our way to create a sustainable team who use each other as inspiration.
Written by Aleksander Braathen