BM is a 9 year old grade 3 learner that was assigned to my class at the beginning of 2020. He is from Gauteng and Sotho speaking. He was sent to live here with an aunt after his mother and grandmother had died. He was not communicating at all and it was extremely difficult to get through to him. The isiXhosa speakers could not understand him and eventually an English speaking girl from Cape Town was used to try to translate what was going on – until music happpened!
He started taking recorder lessons with the Handevat Music Project and it changed his life. Suddenly he had many friends who were taking music with him and who would come to fetch him for class and play together afterwards. He even had to be reprimanded for turning up late for class after break, because he just could not get enough of his new-found friends! Because of his growing confidence he started completing his assignments. He started paying attention and was bold enough to ask when he did not understand.”
Kleinmond Primary is very privileged to have music experts like Stefné and her colleagues as part of our team of educators. Our children lack self-discipline, dedication and perseverance. Thanks to “Handevat Music” this is now addressed and all our educators agree that a big difference is seen in the children who are part of Handevat. Children who previously were performing below average can now read notes and complete assignments on their own – thanks to the patience and support of the “Handevat” team.
We are seeing children who used to have no interest in the extra-mural activities of the school now taking part in the activities of the project and having opportunities to perform at places they had previously only heard of. As they perform and receive awards like gold medals and cum laude awards teachers and parents can see their self confidence growing.
Parents, teachers and the whole community are very grateful to the team. Thank you and may the project be blessed and continue to go from strength to strength.”
2013/14: I was involved with the Handevat Music Project as the representative teacher from Kleinmond Primary School. After the initial competition ended I stayed involved as teacher responsible for the cultural activities of the school. Here follow comments from myself and some of my colleagues:
2014: A Grade 2 leaner (RJ) in my class really struggled to read and to concentrate. Then she started with music (recorder) lessons. Afterwards a great improvement in her reading and concentration was observed. She could even discontinue her support programme for her lack of reading skills.
2017 : The Grade 6 teacher told us of a girl (WF) assessed as a learner who needed to follow a special supportive academic programme but who actually went on to write the main stream midyear exam and did even better than some of the other learners in her class. This improvement was observed after she had started with music lessons a few years earlier. He also referred to her self confidence and social development: she started to communicate more spontaneously and could even make eye contact with her friends and teachers which she could not previously do.
2019/20: A grade 4 teacher gave us feedback about a boy (AJ) who was assessed on the autism spectrum – he especially struggled to socially interact with others and to participate in social settings. The remedial teacher recommended music classes and he started with recorder in group sessions in mid 2019. An incredible positive outcome was observed in his ability to cope and participate with a newfound confidence in social situations. This was also reported by his remedial teacher.
Goeiedag, my naam is Nina Visser, ek is in Graad 11 in Hoërskool Overberg. Ek is al vir sewe jaar betrokke by hierdie projek waar ek so baie dinge ondervind het wat my lewe verander het. Ek onthou toe ek graad vier was het Laerskool Kleinmond afgekondig dat tannie Stefne oudisies hou om in die koor te wees. Ek onthou hoe ek op my senuwees was en ek het geen idee gehad wat vir my voorlê nie. So het my lewe verander. Ek is toe opgeneem in die koor en daar het my musiek loopbaan begin. Na die koor het ek begin blokfluit speel, want tannie Stefne het al haar kinders se musiekkennis uitgebrei deur hierdie instrument. Ek het altyd uitgesien na hierdie musieklesse wat elke Vrydag na skool plaasgevind het. Nadat my musiekkennis meer ontwikkel het, het tannie Stefne my aan marimbas blootgestel. Dit het n hele paar oefeninge gevat en baie harde werk het hierin gegaan om te wees waar ek vandag is. Ek het ook later klavierlesse by tannie Stefné gehad. Hierdie projek het my mens-vaardighede, pligsgetrouheid en nog vele meer vaardighede geleer. Ek onthou van ‘n hele paar verjaarsdagpartytjies wat ek nie kon bywoon nie, want ek moes oefen of ons moes iewers optree.
Ek onthou dat ons een keer op ‘n plaas geslaap het waar ons onder andere geleer het hoe om ‘n tafel te dek. Ek onthou dit tot vandag, en het nooit gedink dat dit so gekompliseerd is om ‘n tafel te dek nie. Hierdie projek het vir my ook plekke laat sien wat ek nooit gedink het ek ooit sou sien nie. Ons het onder andere aan ‘n Nasionale Marimba Kunstefees in Johannesburg deelgeneem, ek het vir die eerste keer gevlieg en ek sal dit nooit vergeet nie. Dit is die lekkerste gevoel wanneer jy toekennings of pryse ontvang en jy weet hoeveel harde werk en opoffering in oefentye ingaan.
Ons het ook op baie uitstappies gegaan wat ek altyd sal onthou. Ek is verewig dankbaar vir al die moeite wat tannie Stefne gedoen het met hierdie projek, en steeds doen. Hierdie projek verander lewens en ek wens dat elke kind so iets kan ondervind. Ek is ook baie danbaar dat tannie Stefne my potensiaal raakgesien het en nooit op my opgegee het nie
My name is Nina Visser and I am presently a learner in grade 11. When I was in grade 4 I auditioned to sing in the choir with mrs Stefné van Dyk and I was introduced to music. My life changed: I started learning the recorder. I used to look forward to going for lessons. Soon I was introduced to marimba-playing and also the piano. This all required hard work. We learnt lots of skills and commitment too. Sometimes I even had to forfeit going to parties because of our practice sessions and playing at events.
We had many opportunities to go to places I would not otherwise have seen. We spent a weekend on a farm learning all kinds of life skills like the correct way to lay a table, etc. We went to a National Marimba Festival in Johannesburg and that was my first time in an aeroplane. We went on many outings too but what I will remember is the good feeling when we won prizes for our marimba playing and we knew that it was the hard work that had brought us so far.
I will always be thankful for what mrs Stefné van Dyk has achieved with this project. It has changed so many lives and I wish every young learner could have a chance like this. She identified my potential and never gave up on me.
“My journey with Stefné started 14 years ago: I was in grade 7 and had joined the newly formed Handevat Music Project’s school choir and recorder group. I had no knowledge of music or choral singing but I joined nonetheless. I still remember I was placed as an alto (second voice part). This programme was run between the two local primary schools as an intercultural music development programme. That turned out to be the best year of my life.
“We had workshops, concerts and competitions. This was something I had never experienced before. I was learning bucket loads of new skills and suddenly I could sing. All this changed my perspective on life and cemented my interest in music. This led to piano becoming my instrument of choice and resulted in me now possessing an in-depth theoretical background of music. This stemmed from the deep-rooted values Stefné, directly and indirectly, imprinted in me.
“Stefné is passionate about music and about using its unique qualities in the holistic development of young people. They learn to enjoy music and at the same time are empowered. For her music is not a luxury, but a way of life that can also bring together communities of different cultures and backgrounds and in doing so, achieve transformation and integration in a natural, fun and exciting way.
“Personally, Stefné taught me one of the things I value most: that you are your own biggest inspiration; this has allowed me to push myself to become the best version of me.
“Today, a couple of years after graduating from the University of Stellenbosch and having obtained my qualification, life has presented me with an equal opportunity to be an inspiration to others: I am employed at Knysna Primary and using my experience with Stefné as a guideline to influence and change young lives.”
It is really a pleasure to share about my appointment as teacher at this project.
I will never forget my first day: I arrived in Kleinmond and had a pleasant meeting with mr Hoza. It was then that mrs Van Dyk arrived. We met and immediately she gave me a piece of music that we would be playing within minutes at a performance! And this was after we had just met … It was then that I knew that I was where I had to be!
I was anticipating an ordinary music school where learners were primarily being exposed to music. To my pleasant surprise I found a totally different “vibe”. Where else would one find a place teaching music where the interest in the learners extended to their health and the health of their teeth? Or where a staff meeting feels like visiting together but all the work gets done?
Handevat Music has given me as an employee, as well as all the learners the opportunities to empower ourselves every day – in more ways than only in music. I have also been reminded that no learner should be deprived of music merely because of financial constraints.
The best part of my experience here in the Overberg is that enough space is given for the practice of my faith. Just as the world cannot exist without music, so Scripture teaches us that without the Lord we can do nothing (John 15:5). In my own life I came to the understanding of how we need this knowledge just in time and know that I have to share my experience with the young learners. The opportunity to do so has given me enormous respect for Handevat Music.
Music taught me discipline, perseverance, to listen and gave me the opportunity to experience the joy of making music with others. Without the gift of music my life would have been poorer.
I met Stefné van Dyk in 2012 and she played an integral role in my musical as well as personal development. She cultivated a love for music and – theory and emphasised the importance of making music together. She has the incredible ability to fill the room with enthusiasm.
I was there in the starting years of the Handevat Project in Kleinmond and in 2014 acted as a facilitator. In the beginner recorder classes I saw many smiles appear when children realised they too can make music. I really enjoyed experiencing their growth and development first hand.
Thank you for giving the gift of music!
My younger boy (Grade 4) started with music in the last quarter of 2019. I started to notice changes from being a very shy and not self confident person to a boy who have confidence, can listen and act on instructions and who can communicate more clearly. His report at the end of the year was so much better in all subjects, but especially in mathematics. Music lessons had really transformed my boy’s life and I will forever be grateful for that!
On 2 June 2013, Axolile Hoza, ex learner wrote the following to Stefné van Dyk:
“Seven years ago I started playing the flute with your encouragement. It was not the instrument I was hoping for, but you convinced me to try. After starting with Heydi Kruger, I was sent to Tracey Burger, whom I initially found very strict and not that friendly. She was however, a mother and not just a teacher, and she made me realise that I had the ability to achieve my full potential.
At the same time, I continued theory classes with Stefné. She was exciting, wonderful, amazing, strict, intense and kind – all at the same time! She taught me and my friend, Addin, so much that we finished the grade 1 theory book in a month! We caught up with those that started months before, and at the end of the year we wrote our grade 2 Unisa Theory exams and played Grade1! Within 3 years, we wrote our Unisa Grade 4 theory exam, and I played my first Flute exam (Grade 4)! I then continued and eventually passed my grade 7 and 8 exams with Unisa with 92% and 96% respectively.
I am now (2013) studying B Mus 2nd year at US. I happen to be one of the students who never struggles with anything in theory, harmony or aural training. It is very funny because all I know is because of Stefné van Dyk, Tracey Burger and Heydi Kruger. I was a seed that was planted and was taken care of by these three amazing women, mothers. I got in trouble with them, they bent me. I did well with them, they watered me every day I grew! I never knew how to thank them, and I doubt that I will ever be able to show them how grateful and thankful I am to what and where they have brought me.
I decided to write this because I have been selected through tough auditions to play with both University of Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra and Cape Philharmonic orchestra. Also to say “thank you for the doors that “Handevat Music” opened for me!”
I grew up in a poor but strongly religious home on the outskirts of Cape Town. My mother was musically very gifted and this would obviously eventually determine the course of my professional life. My father was a lay-preacher, especially among the people of mixed descent (so-called “coloured people”). His strong beliefs would help to keep me as a rebellious teenager on the right path and to give me a strong feeling for the underdog.
As a student I was not at all interested in politics and concentrated on my musical studies and choir singing. It was only once I started working with “coloured” colleagues that I came to realize the unfairness of the system that governed their lives.
Since then I have been drawn to use music in every new community where I lived to get people together: in Stellenbosch to teach kids from the other communities and get them to accompany my Paul Roos choir, in Montagu to get colleagues from all the schools together to work on music lessons, in Greyton to make a combined choir for the two schools there, etc.
While working as a private music teacher at Overberg Primary in Caledon, I read in an ATKV magazine about their “Handevat” competition. One could enter a project with a school from a previously disadvantaged community for the competition! I immediately saw the advantages of that: working on a equal footing with colleagues from the other school. It could be an opportunity not to try to do something FOR others, but WITH others, which is far more enriching, satisfying and “natural”!
That was the birth of the first Handevat Music project which I was involved with (2006-2007) in Caledon. We did a combined music project between Overberg – and Swartberg Primary – it included a combined choir and -marimba band as well as group recorder- and guitar teaching. We ended with a grand concert and won the 2nd prize in the ATKV national competition.
It was a wonderful experience for all the participants. Out of this project I identified three students with exceptional talent and interest. They became students in our Caledon campus of Stellenbosch University’s Certificate courses in music.
The outcome of this project was that two of these learners, Axolile Hoza (flute) and Addin Booysen (piano and double bass) completed their music studies at Stellenbosch University and are now both musicians and music teachers: Axolile as Artistic Director and woodwind teacher at the Handevat Project in Kleinmond and Addin as Head of Music at Knysna Primary.
At the end of 2012 we moved from Caledon (after my husband retired as a magistrate) to Betty’s Bay. After weighing different options to become involved in our communities, I decided to start a similar music cooperation programme under the ATKV Handevat umbrella here between the two local primary schools: Laerskool Kleinmond and Kleinmond Primary. After the end of this project in 2014, we continued as the Handevat Music Project. We have now about 120 learners in our programme (recorder, strings. woodwind, brass, percussion and piano). We also started the Overberg Orchestra this year (an expansion of our annual Carols concerts’ orchestra) – for any musician young and old to experience to play together in an orchestra.
Personal Vision, Commitment & Passion:
Music is a very important part of my life, identity and joy. I believe that music is an important tool for holistic development, upliftment and empowerment – for individuals and communities.
Music is also a wonderful and unique tool to bring people and communities of different persuasions, cultures, etc. together harmoniously and thereby address transformation and integration in a natural and exciting way!
Because of my passion for music I commit and contribute much time, effort, expertise and financial support to help create opportunities and facilitate music making in communities. My aim is to raise the level of “music skills” and “-literacy” among people – for pleasure and personal development as well as for recreational- and career options and opportunities.
My name is Grant Cohen, and I am the current Ward Councillor for Kleinmond in the Overstrand in the Western Cape.
After becoming the Councillor for the area in 2016, one of my main goals for my term was to try to bring the different communities together and this was proving to be a challenge. The idea then was to start with the kids and to then try to get to their parents through them. Fortunately I had the pleasure of meeting Stefne van Dyk and her Handevat Music Project. All I can say is that Stefne achieves amazing results with her group of students and has had such a positive impact on the entire Kleinmond community. With her hard work and dedication, Stefne has shown the entire town what can be achieved through working together towards a common goal.
What the Handevat Music Project has done is to bring together a wide ranging group of young students of different ages, different sexes and different backgrounds. This group continues to grow on a yearly basis and the Kleinmond community are exceptionally proud of this group and it is to the benefit of the entire town that this group manages to continue to grow in the area to make the positive changes it is currently making in our youths lives.
To end off I would like to add that whenever we have a function now, when we host Ministers or anyone for that matter, the first group we invite are the Handevat Marimbas from the Handevat Music Project.
I would like to thank you for taking your time to read my letter of motivation for the Handevat Music Project and I thank you for considering supporting this amazing group. I really cannot put into words how much this project and Stefne mean to our town and I would like to thank them for the positive difference they make on a daily basis.
2020: I am Nathalie Lakay and I’m a grade 8 learner at Overberg High. I have been a Handevat music learner since 2015 when I was in grade 3. The music lessons changed me and many of my friends’ lives for the better: it became a hobby which kept us “from the streets” and opened many doors – for me: attending Overberg High, meeting new friends, partaking in interesting workshops and playing marimba at wonderful venues. I would like to become a violinist and music teacher one day. I want to thank all our wonderful Handevat music teachers; we appreciate you!
2020: Ek is Nathalie Lakay. Ek is 14 jaar oud en is sedert 2015 lid van die Handevat Musiekprojek toe ek in graad 3 was. Musiek het my en baie jongmense se lewens verander: dit het my van strate af gehou ek het my besig gehou. Ek het geleer hoe om in ‘n span te werk. Musiek het ook baie deure vir my oopgemaak: ek is in Overberg Hoërskool, het baie vriende ontmoet deur musiek en op nuwe en wonderlike plekke marimba gespeel. Ek wil graag eendag ‘n violis word en ek wil mense leer oor musiek. Ek wil baie dankie sê vir tannie Stefné van Dyk en al die onderwysers in die Handevat Musiekprojek: julle verander baie mense se lewens soos julle myne verander het!
2020: Hallo everybody! My name is Sinoyolo and I’m in grade 8 at Overberg High – the most wonderful school. I want to really thank the Handevat Music Project and all the other people who make it possible for us to be in that school!! I started with music lessons in the HANDEVAT project in 2015 when I was only in grade 3. It was and still is a wonderful experience with good and bad days!! BUT I’m really thankful because it changed my life: to be a better person and to support me to make a success of my life. It taught me to work in a team and to make music (singing, piano, violin and marimba). Thank you to our teachers: Stefné, Jakobie, Maja, Axolile and Debbie. Also a big thank you to Handevat Music: it changes many young lives as it did mine!
2020: Goeie middag almal. My naam is Sinoyolo Koti. Ek is 14 jaar oud en woon in Kleinmond. Ek is deel van die Handevat Musiekprojek. Ek neem al musiek vanaf 2015 toe ek in graad 3 was. Dit is my 5de jaar in die Handevat Musiekprojek. Dit was en dit is nogsteeds ‘n wonderlike 5 jaar; wel daar was goeie en slegte dae maar ek is baie dankbaar dat my wonderlike musiek-tannie, tannie Stefné my nog help om ‘n wonderlike en beter mens te wees. Ek wil nog baie dankie sê vir tannie Jakobie, Maja, Axolile en tannie Debbie dat hulle vir my gehelp het en nog steeds help om ‘n beter sukses te maak van my lewe en om meer te leer oor musiek.
Dit het my geleer hoe om in ‘n span te werk. Ek is tans in die meeste wonderlike skool, Overberg Hoërskool. Ek wil baie dankie sê aan die Handevat Musiekprojek en al die mense wat vir ons geborg het: dit verander baie jong mense en so het dit my lewe verander.