The SBH team compiled this report to inform the Honourable Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Botswana of the use of the Embassy funded Marimba instruments at the Springboard Humanism Organization (SBH). We sincerely thank the German Embassy for funding the marimba set of instruments to our organization. The report begins with a general note about the day-to-day usage of the instruments by our SBH-based RAD students, the SBH staff and Youth Club members. We will proceed to give a full report of a special workshop which we organized for participants from a neighbouring RAD village. Since the instruments are in full use in the organization, we can clearly perceive evidence of the development of marimba playing in all participants.
We have formed a marimba band consisting of SBH staff members and our students from the RAD villages, this band practices once a week and the participants can now play a couple of songs to quite a satisfying level. The Limited frequency of marimba lessons is deliberately set to ensure that students still have sufficient time to focus on their Junior Certificate studies. Collaborative music practice between SBH staff and students has helped to strengthen friendly ties between staff and students. The SBH Youth Club members receive marimba lessons twice a week and their ability to play in harmony continues to improve. Miss Helming the Weltwaerts Volunteer teaches Marimba techniques to all participants with enthusiasm and patience. In the process she bonds with the staff and students and learns Setswana language and traditional songs.
Workshop with RAD participants from Serinane Village
Serinane is a Remote Area Dweller settlement about 40 km west of Molepolole. Children from Serinane were invited to take part in a three-day marimba workshop at the SBH premises. The marimba workshop ran from the 9th – 11th December 2015. It was held at the SBH premises and participants were accommodated in the hostel. They were provided with 3 meals per day and snack during the workshop period. The Workshop was facilitated by SBH volunteer, staff and students.
Originally, when the SBH team visited Serinane village, the Remote Area village (RAD) to recruit participants for the marimba workshop, they expressed that they would give preference to young women, who are out of school and unemployed. This group would match the target population of SBH. However, in the Kgotla meeting, the chief and other village advised us to be open to admitting young women or men, who are out-of-school, are unemployed and engaged/interested in social activities of the village. They recommended responsible youth, who would pass on marimba music skills to younger people in the village. The village elders discouraged us from choosing school going children, because they are not always available to attend workshops.
However, efforts to recruit the recommended young out-of-school, unemployed people for the workshop were hampered by the fact that there had been a tragic accident involving a truck of students from RAD villages and the village administration was involved in the resolution/handling of the matter. There was also consistently bad network and so communication between the village and SBH was poor. Therefore five RAD school-going boys were recruited at short notice, being the nearest possible participants.
Given the above reasons, participants for the SBH marimba workshop consisted of 5 boys aged between 9 and 15 years, coming from the Remote Area Dweller village (RAD) of Serinane. Letters for consent were given to caregivers to sign and return to SBH as the boys were all minors. The chief of the village and the VDC members actively assisted in the recruitment of the participants. In order to reach SBH’s target group, a future workshop is planned in which “out of school” young women/girls from the same settlement are specifically invited. A bigger effort is to be made to recruit in time and to recruit the target population.
Day 1, 9/12/15
The participants arrived within the scheduled time. After having introduced the workshop participants to the SBH program and principles, participants were given a chance to introduce themselves. Sophia Helming, the Weltwaerts Volunteer and workshop facilitator, introduced the marimba instruments to the participants, demonstrating the sounds and saying the names of each of them. She held a session on how learners should conduct themselves in the marimba room and care for the instruments. Additionally, the rules were printed out and pinned on the wall of the room additionally copies were handed to the boys to be filed in their marimba booklet. This introductory session was followed by presentation of a complete song on the marimbas by SBH staff, the presentation served as an inspiration for the participants as well as a familiarisation with the sounds of the marimba. The performance showed how individuals needed to coordinate the different instrument to create a harmonious melody.
During the first marimba tutorial in the afternoon, the participants were to learn their first song. The facilitator took students one by one to introduce them of them to a voice in the song. She got assisted by a student, Nametso, who had learnt marimba songs at SBH and was therefore able to show the different voices to the participants. Nametso had kindly agreed to come to SBH for the workshop during her vacation time. Staff members, who had some marimba skills already, also offered the much needed support in the first marimba tutorials.
The tutorials alternated with a session of traditional dancing that was led by SBH-staff member Leshano with the help of SBH-student Kelekile. The reason for this combination of tutorials was so that the participants could explore rhythm, movement and music not only through the marimba but also through dance.
Day 2, 10/12/15
The participants were invited to the SBH morning meeting to do a brief check-in on their well-being and inform them about the day’s schedule. The boys reported that they liked the introduction sessions of the previous day, and that they were looking forward for lessons of the second day.
On Day Two, Sophia used the first session to further assist individual students to develop their skills in playing a particular voice (soprano, tenor baritone or bass). In the meantime, the remaining participants were involved in an arts and craft activity, in which they decorated the covers of their Marimba folders. This exercise was facilitated by the students Kitsitso and Kelekile and it was intended for the participants to explore other creative ways of expression. The products of the crafts session were valued by the participants, as each of them could proudly take a personally-designed “music booklet” home after the workshop.
The individual marimba exercises were followed by a group session, where effort was made to coordinate the voices in a song. At first it was not easy for the participants to keep tempo in order to create harmony in the song. However, gradually and with much practice, the song began to sound a little bit more harmonious. This achievement pleased and encouraged the participants. They were reluctant to stop playing and go for their lunch break.
In the afternoon session, guest facilitator Richard Ngobeni (aka Maru) joined Sophia to assist with teaching. The main aim of this session was to practice making music as a band. To achieve this, participants had to learn the skill of playing in rhythm, keeping their tempo and listening to other players. As an experienced musician, Maru was the best choice to co-facilitate this process. At the end of this session, the song played was well recognizable, the participants successfully stayed in rhythm and listened to each other to keep a harmonious tempo of the song they played. This time again, the participants were excited and happy about their newly acquired skills and they were reluctant to leave the marimba room.
Day 3, 11/12/15
During the morning meeting, the boys checked in and reported that they were fine. The next session was practice for performance. The participants were guided on performance etiquette. At the end of the workshop, the marimba band presented to an audience the song they learned in previous sessions. For monitoring evaluation purposes a participant feedback session was conducted by SBH board member Tshiamo Petersen.
The feedback collected was overwhelmingly positive with 100 % of the participants saying that they would like to come back for another workshop. The participants expressed that they enjoyed learning how to play marimba. They further indicated that all people at SBH were friendly and that they enjoyed all the food that was offered to them during the workshop. The boys also expressed the wish for a longer workshop next time. However, the participants also had some suggestions to make in order to make learning easier for them, for example, they needed the silently demonstrate the tempo, rather than to audible count. To the comfort of their stay, they said all was ok, except that they were bothered by mosquitos, they suggested that mosquito repellent be availed next time.
In conclusion it can be stated that the SBH music project is successful. The SBH team appreciates the generosity of the German Embassy in funding the marimba instrument. In turn, we would be honoured to have a chance of presenting the acquired marimba skills to the Honourable Ambassador and Embassy staff members as well as their friends and families.
With sincere greetings!
Kelone Khudu-Petersen (On behalf of SBH Board)