“Teaching aims to teach independence. We lead, explain and then we encourage our students to do things for themselves. Those who do, achieve. Every step they take is an achievement”.
So says Maggie Fletcher who has been a piano and recorder teacher at Outreach Foundation for the past 17 years. About to retire, Maggie has taught many, many people throughout her years at the organisation.
“I get immense joy out of teaching people and seeing the pleasure they get from the music, especially when they catch on to what they are learning. I have found my years of teaching incredible worthwhile and rewarding”.
Maggie has had an interesting career. She is a workaholic and very loyal. She worked for the SABC for 20 years where, amongst other things she got involved in, she conducted in-house training and was the music programme producer. She then landed up teaching at a high school that provides arts and music training (the school is now known as Pro Arte Alphen Park situated in the East of Pretoria). Her inquisitive mind and willingness to learn more about all the art forms enabled her to gain knowledge about the other focus areas of the school such as dance and drama.
All this experience in so many areas was a welcome addition to Outreach Foundation when she joined it in 2002 as a music teacher. With programmes that included music, drama and other arts, she was well suited to work for the organisation.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career. Everywhere I have been, has been a rewarding experience.
“Teaching in Hillbrow has been gratifying. I am happy. I have come into contact with people who have broadened my world.
“The area has a tremendous buzz to it. It is a complex place filled with people from a variety of countries.
“Our students vary in age and in their musical interests. Many people think music theory is a dead subject, but our students love to learn the facts. They want to know more about it. One such student is Coco, a refugee who came to us with a passion for the piano.
“Coco is the first of my students to go all the way up to Grade 8 in music. He started as someone knowing nothing, but I quickly realised that he had talent. After three years, I had to refresh my knowledge. I had to go back to all the things I had learnt many years before so that I could continue to teach him. He picked things up so quickly.
“He has a fantastic way of focusing and is very intelligent. If I told him to go and do research, he would.
“Coco has been assisting me for a while now, and I hope he will continue to share his music and help others, especially after I have retired. He is one of my biggest success stories. I’m very proud of him. I’m proud of all my students.
“Music foundation in my opinion, is essential. You need to learn the principles around it first. It teaches discipline. Once you learn the techniques, you can branch out into other music genres.
“Music is a message on its own. Children gain from learning music. It’s an experience that will last them for a lifetime and has so many important spin-offs.
“It can be challenging with those who don’t ‘get it’ at first, but I learnt an important lesson from a singing teacher many years ago with regard to a hesitant student. She said that when they find their voice, they really find their voice. They just need to believe and have patience. And you, as a teacher, just need to try your best to make lessons an enjoyable experience.
“I have always tried to do that. I try to bring my passion for music into my lessons.”
And it seems she has succeeded in her mission. Her students love her and say she’s more like a mother, not a teacher. Throughout the years she has inspired so many students to continue with music and to love the art.
She has inspired Coco, for one, to become a music teacher and to become a composer.
“We will all miss her once she goes on retirement,” says Gerard Bester, Outreach Foundation’s Performing Arts Manager.
“Maggie has touched so many lives with her passion for music and will certainly leave a legacy of achievement for which she can be enormously proud, and is an example of a great music teacher.
“All of us at Outreach Foundation wish you well as you enter the next phase of your life, and we’d like to thank you for your dedication.
“Congratulations on your retirement!”