As we’re driving down a windy and bumpy country road, we’re thinking «this could be the exact setting for a folkehøyskole in Norway!» (the folk schools are usually in fairly remote locations). Once we get out of our cars we see a family of monkeys roaming the school grounds and climbing the jacaranda trees, and we remember we are in the middle of a jungle. Not quite like Norway after all!
The PULSE team just spent a whole week in Durban visiting the Field Band Academy (FBA) for our first round of workshops with the students. This is where the Field Band Foundation tutors get their education, with classes in music theory, dance, creative movement, instrument lessons and teaching skills. The FBA is beautifully situated in part of an old Dominican Sisters convent, Oakfield Priory, out in the countryside close to the small town Verulam. One of their closest neighbours is a high school that looks eerily similar to Hogwarts.
Our first day at the FBA we arrived straight into concert production mode, as the FBA students were preparing for their Teaching Skills concert with their grade 7 students from the neighbouring primary school. The grade 7s had only had Field Band classes for 5 weeks, but performed with such energy – we have never heard Mary Had a Little Lamb quite like that before! A perfect ending to the concert were three solo rappers that had the courage to perform their own songs, the audience loved them.
Our workshop with the students was spread across three days and the main topic was «how to be a role model and positive adult support in the Field Band». Using various activities we wanted the students to reflect on their roles as tutors, and what it means to be a role model. We included a session on music therapy and community music, as a way to understand the link between music and health. The students were also introduced to Gira and spent a whole session on activities in relation to Gira’s journey into the Field Band Foundation. The session on the last day was devoted to practical exercises around the topics of personal relations, problem solving, and inclusive teaching to accommodate for all members in Field Band.
The group of students that are currently at the FBA will be graduating in December. Many of them are going to be working as tutors in one of the 48 Field Bands across South Africa after Christmas. We hope that they keep reflecting on their position as a role model in their community, and we have no doubt that this batch of coming tutors have a lot to bring to their bands in terms of enthusiasm and creative thinking. Good luck from PULSE!