Community brass : its role in music education and the development of professional musicians in the Western Cape

Kierman, Pamela Elizabeth (2009-03)

Thesis (MMus (Music))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


Community music is at the innermost heart of any music society, yet its generally informal training structures have rendered it somehow second-class in the general view. South Africa‟s formal education structures have tended to favour the elite at the cost of those who are historically deprived, a pattern which developed centuries before the advent of legal Apartheid. This lack of official favour may be the source of the intensity of community music development in the Western Cape, a locus of cultural and ethnic diversity remarkable even in South Africa. Brass instruments, with their inherent portability and relative affordability, have been at the heart of much church music in the past two hundred years. For the Salvationists, the brass band has long been the „peripatetic organ‟ for use at services indoors or outdoors. For the German-related churches, the Posaunenchor, now a brass choir, fulfils many of the same functions. These and other informal structures like them tend to reproduce themselves by means of „apprenticeship‟ of novitiate players to experienced bandsmen. A substantial number of church-trained players have become professional in the context of military bands in the Cape and elsewhere in South Africa. Some have, with more formal training, become symphonic instrumentalists of considerable rank in South Africa. This dissertation sets out to describe the milieu from which brass-players have emerged when formal instrumental instruction has been unavailable to them. It describes past and current efforts to bolster and upgrade brass training for youth, and the ways in which this couples with social upliftment for youth. Perhaps most importantly, it furnishes information and tools for South Africa to join fully with international efforts to research the phenomena of community music and to better understand their significance.

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