Soweto Junior Orchestra. Picture: Supplied
Soweto Junior Orchestra. Picture: Supplied

Soweto Theatre virtual classes keep music alive during lockdown

By Entertainment Reporter Time of article published May 31, 2020

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The healing power of music has played an integral role in getting people through the lockdown, these classes are doing the same for young people and their communities as they practice and perfect their musical skills.

In the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic, with many schools closing their doors, the Soweto Theatre has kept the doors of teaching and learning open with virtual classes to ensure that their Junior Orchestra can write exams with UNISA at the end of the year.

“We pride ourselves in developing our communities, for they are our true reflection. This initiative by the Youth Development Department ensures that the learners don’t miss out on lessons for the year and that they exceed the 50% pass rate received from the previous 2019 annual exams”, said Makhosazana Hlatshwayo, Youth, Community and Audience Development Manager at the Soweto Theatre.

Elaborating on the online classes, Hlatshwayo added: "We focus on everything from musical background, theory, practicals and the history. 

"Music tells different stories, some sad, happy, love, you name it, which makes it important for our students to understand the history of the music they play and it will allow them to best express what they compose, thus making it important for us to go back to history to understand the foundation and originality of the music we teach.”

Soweto Junior Orchestra. Picture: Supplied

Hlatshwayo says the learners are very excited about the virtual classes.

“They have been very happy to return to taking lessons and also recording our first virtual orchestra performance”

The classes are held utilising Google classroom, Zoom and WhatsApp.

The Soweto Theatre is also assisting the learners with data and other necessary types of equipment to facilitate online learning.

“We’re doing our best to source out funding for gadgets such as routers, tablets and so forth for the longer period and continuation of these virtual classes,” said Hlatshwayo.

The classes are part of Soweto Theatre’s youth development programmes which consist of a drama programme and a music programme titled Music Tutorial Programme (MTP). 

The aim of the programme is to make music tuition accessible to children and youth in and around Soweto as well as to offer them music qualification support through the UNISA Music Foundation. 

The programme is now in its third year and was founded as part of the magnet schools music programme which was run through our sister theatre (Roodepoort Theatre), it was then moved to Soweto Theatre when it was realised that the majority number of learners attending the programme were from Soweto.

Soweto Theatre General Manager Nomsa Mazwai said, "While the world is at a standstill, there are still things that we can continue doing. 

"Preparing our junior orchestra for their end of year exams is one of those things that is still possible under the shutdown and we are taking advantage of that. The Soweto Theatre Junior Orchestra is three years in the making and we must ensure that its third year ends on a higher note than its second."

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