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13 March 2023
The Field Band Foundation hits the right note
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) Field Band Foundation (FBF) has successfully held various recruitment drives at schools across Cape Town.

The vision of the FBF is to spread the love of music to learners and nurture in them a passion for music as well as the discipline that comes with learning to play an instrument.

The band arrives at the schools after consultation with the principal and staff, and when the children are called to an assembly their eyes light up when they see the instruments set up in front of them. The promise of music and the performances are a draw card that ensures that the children are entertained and later enticed into the world of music.

The FBF was started as a social development programme in 1997 to keep ‘kids off the streets.’ The concept has been developed beyond this initial aim in that structured programmes now include life skills, and substance misuse and other interventions to protect and educate learners within a fun, art activity, namely marching bands. 

The band consists of instrumentalists including brass, marching percussion (snares, tritoms, bass drum) and pit percussion (marimbas and steel pans), as well as dancers. 

Recruitment drives and membership sign-up took place at Athlone Schools for the Blind in Glenhaven, Bellville-South; Accordion Street Primary School in Belhar (pictured); Intshinga Primary School in Gugulethu; The Congregational Church in Bishop Lavis; and, at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

Director of the UWC Centre for the Performing Arts, Henriette Weber, said: “During the start-up phase, the FBF will provide the instruments, tutors and transport for the staff, and the instruments to each venue as agreed by the schools and projects. As the partnership develops and the Memorandum of Understanding is concluded, joint funding from the partnership will contribute to the UWC-FBF having their own instruments, vehicle, branding etc.”

Principal at Accordion Street Primary School, Astrid Barreiro, says it was great to see the children respond so enthusiastically to the performances by the band. Learners stopped short of jumping up and dancing when they assembled for the presentation from the band, and the music started.

Barreiro says: “The children enjoy music and everything related to music. It brings them joy and teaches discipline.”

Weber said: “As educators, we also hope that learners enjoy the experience of field bands, and that this experience would provide the bridge from primary to high school, as well as high school to higher education institutions.” 

She added: “The Athlone School for the Blind was a FBF site when I was appointed to work  (then as the Western Cape Regional Director) for the FBF and will, again, be part of our reach to include differently-abled learners, which speaks to inclusivity. We hope that this sense of continuity, inclusivity and the bonding that takes place over time will diminish the drop-out rates of learners.”

There are field bands in Gauteng, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. Annually, the various provinces compete against each other at the Field Band Foundation National Championships. The FBF’s two major international partnerships (since 2001) are with Drum Corps International (upon which the field band model is built) and the Norwegian Band Federations (NBF).
Members of the Field Marching Band after the presentation at Accordion Street Primary School.