Since 2007, LYJRO have been working in conjunction with a number of schools in Durban, South Africa.
It started with a visit that year to the ‘Celebrate Durban’ festival, when the students (all from Leeds Schools) played at a number of venues in Durban, including two schools and the Ekhaya Arts Centre in the Kamashu township. LYJRO returned to Durban in September 2010 this time focusing their time at township schools and an orphanage.
As well as visiting Africa and carrying out workshops in the schools, LYJRO sponsor a music student from Durban University to teach music at Hillview Primary School. LYJRO funded the student to teach twice a week at the school. This enables the pupils at Hillview to access music lessons on a regular basis. This is something that they would not usually be able to access. LYJRO keep in contact with the student via email to gain updates and the schools’ Head Teacher sends regular progress reports so the band are included in the process and can hear the difference they are making in children’s lives.
LYJRO continue to work with Durban, most recently returning in 2014, where they visited a number of primary schools doing concerts and workshops. The children were split up into three groups: chime bars, recorders and singers. Each group got the chance to learn a few easy songs that they then performed with LYJRO in a concert for the rest of the school and their parents. In addition to this, LYJRO performed in a number of venues, one being a University Jazz Club which gave the students a chance to work in a professional environment. In addition, they also gave a concert at the hostel/orphanage where we were hosted, to say ‘thank you’ to the staff. This was a favourite for all the members of the band as the energy and reception to the music was incredible, showing the band just how significant the work they were doing was.
“Upon arriving in the schools, I saw stark contrasts between schools in this country and schools in Durban: the children, despite lacking music resources, were so excited about being taught by us and they all participated enthusiastically! After delivering short workshops (using either recorders, chime bars, percussion or vocals) where several simple tunes were taught, the children gave a short concert to the rest of the school. It was so heart-warming to see them all dancing and cheering, not afraid to show their appreciation for the music. I found the experience challenging at times because I had to use skills such as cooperation and leadership, yet incredibly rewarding because I could physically see the impact that the band had on the children – I know that we all left a lasting impact on them.”
Rebeka Angstmann, former LYJRO tenor sax player