Visiting Eastern Cape and Free State

The past two weeks, PULSE and Field Band Education (FBE) have been back on the road conducting Educational Band Visits. This time the regions that received training were Eastern Cape (Dordrecht and Sterkstroom) and Free State (Parys, Kroonstad and Viljoenskroon). In addition to receiving up-skilling in the PULSE and FBE content, a positive side effect of these sessions is that we gather several tutor teams from the same region. Some of these teams are scattered and far apart, and through these band visits the tutors get a chance to meet more of their colleagues in the Field Band Foundation. They get the chance to share knowledge, ideas and challenges, which contribute to a greater sense of community and support from the fellow tutors. As we are also doing these band visits with Field Band Education and the Peer Educators, the band visit arena truly is a place for transferring knowledge between the regions, PULSE and the Education Department. To read more about the topics we cover in our Educational Band Visits, please read our post:

The last day of the band visit it dedicated to a final event with the members. On this day, the tutor teams travel back to their bands and plan a final joyful and motivational happening. The aim is to work on members mental and social health, include elements of life skills, and to start implementing some of the things we have covered in our sessions. The format is completely up to the tutors, it can be a rehearsal, a performance, an activity race etc.

In Free State PULSE attended the event in Parys, and were happy and impressed to see some of the activities the team had planned and hear the thoughts behind them. In the last part of the event the whole band played together, and members were encouraged to come up and act as the conductor for their favourite song. In the end their peers were urged to give positive feedback to the conductors. This can be a great way of building confidence and self-esteem, and imagine the sense of happiness and community you’ll feel from getting praise from your peers. This activity can be a way of building a positive environment where you communicate respectfully with each other. And as an added bonus: a great way of teaching conducting and musical leadership.

PULSE and Field Band Education get valuable input on our content from the tutors. We are always striving to improve and make sure our topics are relevant to the tutor teams. PULSE and FBE are working on further aligning our work, and are linking our content closer and closer together. The tutors get upskilling, and finds an arena for sharing knowledge and experiencing community with other tutors in the organisations. And lastly through the final event and implementation of the knowledge gained at the workshop, we see that the members also benefit from the Educational Band Visits.


Written by Emely Ruth Waet and Solvor Vermeer

Pictures by Emely Ruth Waet and Bongani Goliath

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Why dugnad is important?

17 May is approaching, new season has begun in Norway. Dugnad is the common term you’ll hear this time of the year and on the 11 May 2017 team Bergen was invited to participate at a Dugnad in the school band we work with. What is dugnad? surely you wondering. Well: Dugnad is one of those concept type words which can be defined in few sentences. This is a cultural resonance that represent a way of life or an expectation in Norway.


Dugnad is commonly described as community work where people get together and get involved in anything such as cleaning, painting, tidy things up and fixing in general. It can be in the neighbourhood you live in, the property you share, at schools or the volunteer activities you participate in. It is a common activity in school bands where parents get together in the afternoons to help the band to prepare for instance to the National day celebration on 17 May.  Mostly what parents do are tasks like; sorting out the uniforms, checking the band’s official Fane (band baner), sort out music, clean up the instrument storage room, prepare for the annual closing and also to make goodie bags with lots of candy for the National day parade.

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It was an exciting experience we got to be part of. Everyone worked as a team from the young musicians, the board members and all the way to parents. The spirit was high; everyone had a task to do and a spot to fill, people laughed and spoke to each other across the tables where they were working and people helped each other out when needed.

Social health involves your ability to form satisfying interpersonal relationships with others. It also relates to your ability to adapt comfortably to different social situations and act appropriately in a variety of settings. Spouses, co-workers and acquaintances can all have healthy relationships with one another. Each of these relationships should include strong communication skills, empathy for others and a sense of accountability. By attending Dugnad you are rewarded by a wider network, a sense of belonging and positive energy from people around you. There is no doubt that this is exactly what we witnessed during dugnad at Varden skoles musikkorps.

Written by: Thulani Dupa & Masibulele Langa

Photos by : PULSE team BGO

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The Challenge via e-learning

E-learning is one of the methods we in PULSE use to reach the tutor teams to conduct sessions. Due to the long distances between the bands, we can conduct more tutor sessions with the teams out in the regions when we don´t have the opportunity to physically be there.

By using this method we can for example conduct a session with a tutor team in the Western Cape in the morning, a session with a Northern Cape team before lunch and a session with a Gauteng team in the afternoon. Unfortunately, connectivity can sometime be an issue on both sides, but we are learning more about how to work around this every time we have an e-learning session.

We use different ways of communicating online with the teams, e.g. various video conference programs, sending out tasks via e-mail and communicating via other online communication platforms – depending on internet connectivity both in the regions and where PULSE is at the time.

So far our e-learning sessions have been mostly based on variations of an implementation programme we call “The Challenge”. With this programme we work together with the teams on different topics related to music and holistic health. Working with The Challenge via the e-learning method makes us able to work with different teams on the various topics in the morning, and then they can immediately implement the new knowledge gained in the rehearsals in the afternoon.

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Gira goes to Norway

Gira making new friends at VinterPULSE Oslo 2017

What happens to you when you move far away from home? What is it like to try and make friends when no one around you speaks your language? Why can it be easier to make friends in band than at school? These are some of the questions that we explored at VinterPULSE in Oslo and Bergen with the help of Gira. (Read more about VinterPULSE 2017 here.)

Gira has become quite famous in the Field Band Foundation over the last four years – almost everyone knows about Gira and what her emotional journey was like when she joined a field band. The South African Gira family has been growing, and there are now several Giras in field bands across South Africa being used as tools for discussion and learning by the newly minted Peer Educators.

At VinterPULSE this year, the participants got to hear the story of Gira the way we all know it. However, this time it did not end with a final ”happily ever after”, because life keeps twisting and turning. After joining a field band, making friends, and finding stability and support, Gira’s life is uprooted. Her whole family moves all the way to Norway! She ended up living at Stovner in Oslo, and at Landås in Bergen. Gira does not know the language yet, she does not have any friends, and she is being teased by some of the other kids at school. She misses the happy, bubbly feeling of playing the marimba and finding her place in the music alongside everyone else.

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Gira found Norway to be cold and lonely in the beginning

Once this development of Gira’s story was introduced, the VinterPULSE participants became a part of the story, and contributed to what would happen to Gira next and how she joins Norwegian banding activities. The participants voted for parts of Gira’s story in Norway: where did she hear about the school band (skolekorps), who made her feel welcome when she arrived at the band rehearsal, and what instrument she decided to try. Sadly, the Norwegian school bands do not usually have marimbas, but an overwhelming majority voted for Gira to take up the drums for a new challenge! As she joined the school band, Gira was given chances to share her experiences from her field band, and her conductor let her teach the other band members a song that she used to play in South Africa. Being included in this way made Gira feel empowered and gave her a way to remember the good memories from home.

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Gira joined us for many discussions during VinterPULSE


As we got to know Gira, this gave us a chance to reflect as a group on what joining the school band did for Gira. The VinterPULSE participants agreed that even if she did not speak much of the language yet, the common activity of music gave her an opportunity to make friends through a shared interest. This may have resonated in particular with some of our participants who were newly arrived refugees from Syria, and who could be going through some of the same emotions as Gira right now. Some participants made the great observation that making new friends would not make her homesickness disappear completely, but it would give her new good memories to use when she was feeling homesick.  As a related group activity we also made notes of all the positive things you can experience by joining a band, and made “friendship walls” showcasing the notes.

Some of our Giras with our VinterPULSE friendship walls

As one of the VinterPULSE participants said – maybe Gira will end up moving again sometime in her life, but she knows she can always find friends through a musical activity. We are curious and excited to see what kind of friends Gira will make in her future adventures!


Written by/photos by: Ingrid Thorstensen

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Educational band visits

For weeks 13 and 14, half of PULSE (Ine and Geir) are located in the Northern Cape, conducting the first ever FBF Educational band visits together with Field Band Education (FBE) and some of our Peer Educators.

These educational band visits will take place in field bands all over South Africa throughout 2017, and the aim is to offer more training for Field band staff, and to get the same training out to all bands. It is also an opportunity for our Peer Educators to practise facilitating, and they will take turns in joining these band visits.

Each band visit lasts for 4 days: we have 3 days of workshops with the band staff, facilitating in PULSE and FBE material. On the last day of the band visit we go out to the local band and cooperate with the band staff to make a joyful and motivational event for the members.

Band visits- Team Kimberley

The Kimberley band staff together with facilitators from PULSE, FBE and Peer Eductors.

PULSE´s main focus on these educational band visits is disability awareness and inclusive teaching. Through three days of workshops the band staff learns about what a disability is and possble causes of disabilities, and get important and useful knowledge on how we relate to, respect, include and talk about people living with disabilities.

We also have a session where we go deeper into one kind of disability that is especially prevalent in the community their field band operates in, as well as a practical session on how to implement the knowledge of disability awareness into the band, and the tutors teaching. At the end of it all, in cooperation with the band staff, we will have created a Change Agent Action Plan specific for each band, with strategies and tools for how to be even better at including field band members living with disabilities and making sure that their field band experience is one of safety , mastery, belonging and joy.

The content, spread over four sessions in three days, is set up like this:

Session one: What is a disability?

The session explains what a disability is, and uses activities and exercises to give the learners an idea of what it might be like to be living with a disability. It aims to clarify and put into words that people living with disabilites are capable of a lot, and should not be underestimated or belittled.

The session also gives knowledge of what some possible causes of disabilities are, and examines beliefs and opinions regarding disabilities in the band staff´s own community.

The aim of this is to encourage language and practises in relation to people living with disabilities that are promoting holistic health, and to examine how we can remove some of the stigma still surrounding people living with disabilities.

We also want to give information on behaviour that can cause disabilities, such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and shaken baby syndrome. We hope that by giving information on this and enabling the learners to share that information in their communities, we can increase awareness and hopefully contribute to lower the number of children being affected.

Session two: Being inclusive and respectful

This session goes deeper into the subject of treating everybody with respect. Through enforcing the point that people living with disablities have the same needs and feelings as everyone else, we examine what is the best way of relating to people living with disabilities. Through giving tools and doing activities we strengthen the band staff´s confidence in meeting people living with disabilities in a dignified and enabling way.

We also introduce the concept of ”people first language”, both a respectful way to talk about people living with disabilities and a way to remind ourselves all the time that everyone is first and foremost a person.

Session three: A closer look at a disability that is especially prevalent in the community the participant´s field band operates in.

Through taking time to work closely with one specific disability that is relevant to the learners, we hope to help increase the band staff´s competence to teach children living with this disability both by having more knowledge about the disability and by getting specific tools to use. For the Kimberley session we focused on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Session four: Practical disability awareness.

Time to implement the knowledge we have gained. Through check-lists and activities we examine the status in the band staff´s own band, and find points to improve on. After agreeing on what we want to and can improve, we cooperate in finding tools that we can use to do just that. The points of improvement and the tools are gathered in a ”Change agent action plan” that the band staff will take back to their bands and implement. PULSE will follow up on how the implementation is going and offer advice in the process.



Tutors from Kimberley Field band doing an exercise on disability awareness.

As we close this first ever band visit in Kimberley, we look back at a great week. We are very impressed, both with the peer educators who have risen to every challenge they were presented with, and with the Kimberley band staff who have shown great involvement and work ethics.

The final big blowout of the band visits – the joyful and motivational event for the members, was a great success. All the members present appeared to be having a good time, and they also got some very useful life skills knowledge on opportunity and setting boundaries. In addition to this they got to play a lot of fun games and try their skills at acting.

We take with us this success and all our positive experiences, and look forward to next week, when PULSE, FBE and Peer Educators will visit Hanover and Petrusville/Phillipstown Field Bands.

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Written by Ine Nord, Pictures by Ine Nord and Jack Mmetseng.

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Since arriving in Norway the PULSE-team have been teaching in various bands and seminars using the FBF approach. Some of the participants we have worked with has never touched an instrument before. During our seminar’s we always introduce a variety of elements such as; playing by ear, dancing, singing and activities from FBFs activity library like icebreakers, energizers and team builders. We are experiencing a lot of laughter and happy feelings during our rehearsals, many of the musicians we meet can be very shy at start, but once they touch their instrument and start to play is when they express themselves through the music. The feeling of achievement when the participants master what we have thought them can be overwhelming at times.


Stronger Together 

One of our members from Furuset Skoles Musikkorps was asked “What does music mean to you” her reply was “whenever I feel afraid , I hold my head high and whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect that I’m afraid, and every single time, the happiness in the tune convince me that I’m not afraid”


”Music make me happy”

Participants at this years VinterPULSE in Oslo and Bergen were asked the same question and at both places Happiness received the most responses. In 2015 240 youngsters was asked the very same in South Africa with the same result (ref the report Musical activities as health promotion,, page 41).

Based on this we believe in the power of music to influence positive change, because music help us understand and express our moods and attitude. Music help us to reorganize our thoughts and feelings while keeping us on track. We have seen a positive change of behaviour; members becoming more disciplined and focused, they open up to each other and dare to show their vulnerability, they laugh and smile when working with us.


Happy faces

Socially, children who become more involved in music groups or ensemble learn important life skills, such as how to relate to others, how to work as a team and appreciate the rewards that comes from working together towards a common goal where everyone is needed. This shows that picking up an instrument can help a child to break out of their social shell. This is supported by the VinterPULSE evaluation where 75% of the participants in Oslo and 68% in Bergen reported that friends is an important factor for their definition of music.


Friendship & joyful moments

Drawing on our personal experiences as music teachers it is clear to us that music has a role to play in a child’s ability to learn and develop. Not necessarily just in terms of general intelligence, but in terms of strengthening their mental and social well-being. Researcher in Phycology of Music and Dance from University of Hertsfordshire, Dawn Rose, is supporting this view when she states that musical learning can help children to apply themselves, as well supporting the processes involved in teamwork and appreciation of working towards shared goals.

We are also happy to note that Dural music centre has listed many good reasons for why music is a beneficial to children (ref that correlates with our experience;

  •   It teaches patience and appreciation
  •   It builds confidence trough mastery
  •   It teachers them how to relate to others and therefore strengthens them socially
  •   It can boost their brain power and stimulate their memory
  •  It helps them to connect with others; music is reckoned to be amplified when    experienced with others
  •  It teaches discipline and strengthens ones self-direction 

But most importantly; Music is beneficial because it makes one happy!




Written by: Sizwe Nkosi & Sihle Mabena

Photos by: Aleksa and Mads Ostberg

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Peer Educator Training Continues

It has only been a few weeks since the last time the Peer Educators (PE) gathered, but we are already picking up where we left of. The last training period was to prepare for and to conduct the National Tutors Workshop. This time we start preparing for the upcoming Educational Band Visits that are happening throughout the coming year. The Peer Educator Programme is developed and operated in collaboration with Field Band Education, and the Peer Educators are given training in several topics during the three days we are gathered. The topics covered in this training session includes practical music theory, conducting and facilitation skills. The main PULSE theme we are covering is “Disability Awareness and Inclusive Teaching”.

One of the main goals the PULSE project in South Africa is working towards is to give the tutors of the Field Band Foundation (FBF) the tools they need to successfully include members living with disabilities. A lot of good work is already being done throughout the bands, and we will add on this when we visit bands during the Educational Band Visits. Our Peer Educators will join us for these visits and the last few days have been spent giving the PE’s an overview of the “Disability Awareness and Inclusive Teaching” guide. We have presented relevant knowledge about different types of disabilities, and we have talked about barriers that might prevent successful inclusion in society. By giving information, and through relevant activities we aim to make the participants aware of how it might feel to be in the shoes of a person living with disabilities, and to apply critical thinking when facing myths and beliefs about different disabilities. Through this our Peer Educators can truly be role models and change agents for a more inclusive Field Band Foundation.


The PULSE and FBE surprised the Peer Educators with a small Gira figure for each. The figure is to be a tool for the PE’s to use when they themselves facilitate Gira workshops and talk about key topics like safety, belonging and resilience. The growing flock of Giras also represents how the PULSE content reaches further into the bands through the help of the Peer Educator. The Peer Educators and their Giras are key in making sure the PULSE content is implemented throughout the organisation. In addition to the Gira figure the Peer Educator were given a small poem that tells some of the main themes of the “Story of Gira”, and with that; some of the most important goals we work towards in the PULSE project.


There first was just one

who couldn’t lift her head.

She bent her neck

and kept it down instead.

But the story spread,

so the family grew.

We once had just one,

but now we have two!


She is a reminder

of something in us.

We use her to talk,

to listen and discuss.

She needs to feel safe,

like all of us do.

She needs meaning, support

and self-esteem too.


Her story is one

of many we know,

where challenges come

and tough times make you grow.

For each day that passes,

she grows taller than before.

She started out quite bent,

but she’s rising more and more.


There is a little piece

of her in us all.

We all can be down

and we all can stand tall.


It’s time for you now

to each get your own.

Look around the corner,

– don’t leave us here alone!


Take good care of us,

because we need to belong.

Let us master note by note

and we’ll each give you a song!


By: Solvor Vermeer



Written by/Pictures by: Emely Ruth Waet

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