June 15, 2024

The Con Amore School Field Band members in action. Picture: Supplied

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By Simon Manda

The Field Band Foundation (FBF) successfully celebrated Youth Day and launched its new “Music for All” business model, focusing on inclusive bands, on Saturday, 8 June 2024 at Con Amore School and Intervention Centre in Kempton Park.

The event brought together parents, children, community members, school representatives, and partners, all united in their commitment to fostering inclusivity through music.

The day opened with the national anthem and a collective rendition of “Heal the World,” setting the tone for an inspiring and engaging celebration. Performances by the Field Band Mass Band, Birchleigh High School & Con Amore School Field Bands, and the Alexandra Field Band showcased the incredible musical talents of the participants.

Parents and children also enjoyed various interactive activities, which included drumming, the Hawaiian Hoop Hop, the Jungle Rhythm Dance, and the Parachute Play, promoting active participation and unity through music.

The drumming session

FBF’s commitment to developing inclusive communities was highlighted through their operational model, which integrates work with preschool children, children with disabilities, and school-going children. The partnership between Birchleigh High School Field Band and Con Amore School and Intervention Centre, which caters to children with complex disabilities, was celebrated as a successful pilot programme of the “Music for All” initiative.

The event also marked the launch of FBF’s *Musicking* model, which offers weekly band activities from Monday to Thursday, aiming to benefit up to 1,000 children per week in each community. This model not only provides access to music education but also promotes social cohesion and personal growth among participants.

The Parachute Play

Su Lubner, from the Lubner Foundation-one of the main funders of the initiative, expressed her heartfelt admiration for the Field Band tutors, saying, “When I see them putting heart and soul the way they do, it shows me that the organisation has obviously done something incredible because for them to have created such amazing people, such special beings who have such compassion, who give so much of themselves, who are excited and involved, and they having as much fun as the kids. For me, that was just such a blessing. I just found myself weeping about that, and obviously, it keeps you… you get to make that decision to continue doing this, of course.”

Lubner also praised the community and parental involvement, stating, “The community and the parents, for them to be involved like this, these classrooms where I’m seeing parents have the opportunity to also play drums and marimbas… it’s so beautiful and to create spaces where people can share like this, you know, where suddenly all the challenges of having a child who’s differently-abled, all those difficulties of finding your space in your own community as well, because we still have so much prejudice that we have to deal with and face… I just kept walking around the whole morning in tears.”

Looking towards the future, Lubner expressed her wish to create spaces where children with disabilities can continue to be a part of the program, even after they leave school. She acknowledged the common challenge of finding opportunities for individuals with disabilities after they complete their education and hoped that initiatives with African economy, focusing on entrepreneurship, could help build inclusive programs, projects, or businesses.

Busisiwe Moloi, the mother of Lesego Moloi, a child with autism and epilepsy who is part of the foundation band at Con Amore School, shared her experience: “Since he’s been there, he’s become more organised, and he’s better. He is okay. I can tell he is okay. He can interact with other people as well; I have noticed that change in him”

When asked about her Lesego’s involvement in the band, Moloi said, “I don’t know about the different instruments, but according to the way he tells me, he’s practicing one of the instruments at school as well.”

Moloi highlighted the improvement in her son’s communication skills, saying, “He’s communicating, and I can talk to him and though it’s challenging sometimes, but yeah, we are getting there.”

Busisiwe Moloi with her son Lesego Moloi

An awards ceremony held towards the end of the day’s program recognized the outstanding achievements of the bands’ participants, acknowledging their dedication and talent. The event culminated in a powerful exit performance by the FBF National Band, highlighting the transformative power of music and the potential for inclusive musical experiences to create positive change.

Part of the crowd that came to watch the proceedings

FBF expressed its gratitude to the Nina Simone Charitable Trust for their invaluable support in making this energetic celebration of music possible. The Nina Simone Charitable Trust’s dedication to supporting black youth in music resonates deeply with FBF’s vision of empowering young people to become self-confident and empowered through music-making, promoting inclusivity and personal agency.

The successful Youth Day celebration and launch of the “Music for All” model demonstrate FBF’s unwavering commitment to harnessing the power of music to create a more inclusive and empowered society.

 

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