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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