Who are we?

The Hillbrow Music Centre was started in 1998 on behalf of the Outreach Foundation as part of the arts and culture program in response to the overwhelming need for extra-curricular activities after school and over weekends for children and youth. Due to the limited opportunities for music education in Hillbrow and the surrounding inner-city despite the obviously large and enthusiastic pool of talent in the area, the HMC primarily provide access to music education as an alternative after-school activity for children and youth in Hillbrow and the surrounding inner-city areas. The project aims to keep children and youth off the streets and provide them with activities that support their holistic development.

Experience has shown that learning to play an instrument and musical appreciation impacts on a child’s personal and socio-economic development. Whilst studying music, children/youth also learn logical thinking; develop their concentration skills; long-term memory and their coordination. The programme provides beneficiaries with the opportunity to discover their creative and artistic abilities: an opportunity that is not available to them in school. Added to this, concert performances provide the opportunity for beneficiaries to explore other places outside Hillbrow for a few hours and allow them to socialise with children from different socio-economic groups, this boosts their self-confidence. furthermore working in groups has shown that communication skills are enhanced in preparation for concerts. Participation is voluntary (usually with no parental encouragement) and the sheer number of applicants over the years is evidence of the community’s need for a music centre such as that provided by the Outreach Foundation.

What we offer

Tuition is currently offered in piano, violin, cello, trumpet, trombone, marimba, guitar as well as the recorder, saxophone and clarinet. Over 18-year-olds may register for; drums, electric bass, electric piano and marimba. Theory of music and music appreciation are offered as an integral part of the instrument study.The HMC provides both formal (instrument study and music theory) and informal (group work and workshops) music tuition to some 105 students by 8 qualified music tutors.

Requirements

Classes are held weekdays in the afternoons and on Saturday mornings. The students are also encouraged to participate in quarterly concerts giving them the opportunity to showcase their creative skills and development.There is no minimum age requirement to participate in the programme and very young students and other beginners are introduced to the basics of music appreciation on recorders in group-classes before choosing another instrument to learn. To be part of the music centre, a registration form should be completed. This can be done at Outreach Foundation’s reception.

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Our Goals

We strive to:

Promote cultural growth

Develop creative abilities

Boost memory and coordination

Provide a safe haven

Our Team:

Gerard Bester

-Programme Manager

Madoda Gxabeka

-Drum Teacher

Themba Moyo

-Marimba Teacher

Virginia Pilane

-Administration Assistant

On Our Blog:

Maggie Fletcher – A wonderful example of a great music teacher

“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!”



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Well-known musician Madoda Gxabeka is getting children off the street by teaching music

Music has been his life, and it is fitting that Madoda Gxabeka spends most of his free time teaching the children of Hillbrow music through the Performing Arts Department of Outreach Foundation.

Well-known in the music industry as a member of the African Jazz Pioneers, Madoda has performed to large crowds all over the world. The band has a large following overseas and even in South Africa, where they play annually at various festivals around the country.

Soft-spoken Madoda is the kind of mentor every child needs. He is patient and caring and truly loves his craft. Growing up in Lange in the Western Cape, he was surrounded by a multitude of sights, sounds, and music. He knew from a very young age that music was his passion and that he wanted to share his love of it with others. And so he began teaching it to his friends and the other children in the neighbourhood. He was one of the few children who understood and enjoyed the theory of music. He still studies it and teaches it.

Although Madoda is well-known for his jazz, he has always had a love for classical music. He listens to it a lot, and it inspires him. He, therefore, teaches piano as well as drums and tries to include classical elements as much as he can whenever he can. He believes in introducing his students to various sounds as that is what shaped his music and made him a better musician.

Of the artists that influenced him and his music was pianist and composer, Abdullah Ibrahim, saxophonist, Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi and his music teacher, Gideon Ndlebe. Mr Ndlebe taught him to love musical instruments and literally changed his life. This teacher wanted to get the kids of Lange off the streets by teaching them music. Madoda was one of those children.

Instead of getting embroiled in gangs and liquor, he became involved in music. He strongly believes that Mr Ndlebe and music saved his life.

Now, as a music teacher at Outreach Foundation, he gets to do the same for the children of Hillbrow. He gets to offer them a chance to learn music and get off the streets after school and during school holidays. This is what attracted him to the Foundation and why he juggles his music career with teaching in Hillbrow.

Music requires dedication and patience. The children have to practice to get better. This means that they need to play their instruments almost every day which then keeps them off the streets more often. But this kind of dedication is not easy in an environment such as Hillbrow. Madoda has to come up with ways in which to encourage them to come to practice. One such way is for them to perform. The students respond well to performing to audiences. They thrive with that kind of feedback.

But for the students to perform, they need opportunities to do so. Madoda’s plea to donors, companies and government departments is to book Outreach Foundation’s performing arts students for any function they may have. One of his dreams is for his students to perform as part of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra. He believes that the more experience they get, the better their chances will be to do so and the more chances they will have to become professional musicians once they leave school.

And Madoda knows what he is talking about: thanks to exposure through performing to audiences, two of his students from the Outreach Foundation have performed overseas, and two of his past students are famous musicians: McCoy Mrubata, a jazz saxophonist and pianist, Vusi Maseko.

To book Outreach Foundation’s performing arts students, please contact us on 011 720 7011 or email us info@outreachfoundation.co.za

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