“It is a family, a huge big family”. Fezekile Gerald Owen Tsoko returned from Norway as a PULSE participant in May and was more than happy to get back to his friends in Field Band.
Owen is now a Band Coordinator in Kagiso Field Band, outside Soweto. He has been a part of the Field Band since 1997. This year his band won the best brass award and other prizes at the Field Band Foundation National Championships in October.
More than music.
The National Championships has a special place in Owen´s heart. It was after he participated in his first big competition with his band that he really decided to stay as a member “I fell in love” Owen says with a smile. “It was like wow, it was so colorful. At the competition I got friends from everywhere in the country”.
Owen still remembers his very first experience in the Field Band 17 years ago. He was curious to see what everyone in his community, and at school were talking about. “I wanted to get out of home, it was always just about politics, politics, politics” Owen explains.
After his first Field Band rehearsal Owen told his mother that he had learned how to play the drums. His mother would not believe him. It did not take long before Owen got the experience of mastering something new through the Field Band.
Owen is not in doubt that his years in the Field Band has changed him as a person. “In Field Band you learn to be you. You can try, they allow you to do mistakes. You meet different personalities and stories. It does not force you to do things. The band it is more than music” , he says. “You get more than musical education in the Field Band, you grow as person. You get travelling education, social education and life skills education”.
Field Band Foundation is a lifeskills organization where music and dance is used to empower the members. Owen tells that lifeskills is about how you act as a human being, about respecting each other and respecting the instruments. It is about how you prepare yourself to be a responsible grown-up by learning things such as time keeping and how to listen. Owen claimes that the Field Band can make you more open and less shy. You get used to stand in front of many people. Owen himself has acheived a lot though his years in the Field Band and is happy to share his thoughs about reaching goals with others.
“There will always be negative things in your way” Owen says. His advise is to focus on the things you are good at and be honest to yourself. “Take small steps” he says. “Don´t relax and then take it all in the end, if you want to achieve something, take small steps everyday”
Relax and have fun.
Owen likes everything about his work, but the thing he enjoyes the most is to see people around him really love what they are doing. “Music is expression, you express how you feel, you can tell your story through it. Music is a tool to grow” he says.
That music is one language was something Owen experienced when he went to teach music to Norwegian kids through PULSE in 2013/2014.
Music is music, but there are differences in the Norwegian and the South African way of teaching and behaving. Owen thinks the two culutres can learn from each other.
He experienced that the Norwegians where more open then South Africans, that tends to hide feelings inside. He also felt that the gap between the teachers and the students where not that big in Norway. In other ways he feels that the Norwegians sometimes can be too serious and stressed to make things happen. “Relax and have fun, things are gonna happen” he says with a smile.
Written by: Hanne Johansen and Siri Thorson