International music teachers visit Lady Grey
The Lady Grey Arts Academy was privileged to receive a visit from a group of fifteen ladies from Sweden and Norway from 1 to 4 March.
The group visited Lady Grey as part of a special study trip, organised by Rytmikcenter Stockholm (Stockholm Centre for Rhythmic Studies), in conjunction with the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.
Rytmikcenter Stockholm is a training company with experienced eurhythmic teachers presenting tailored programs, information, single workshops, longer courses and various kinds of other activities in Eurhythmics to schools, municipalities and businesses.
The aim of the study trip was to provide participants with an opportunity to experience a part of the wide variety South Africa has to offer. They visited four different parts of the country where they met various groups and individuals and participated in several field trips and a variety of workshops. The common denominators for the entire trip were African dance and music, Eurhythmics in an international context and working in a multicultural society.
After a week-long visit to Pretoria and Potchefstroom, the group consisting of music teachers, lecturers and church musicians, arrived in Lady Grey on Sunday, 1 March for a short, but eventful visit.
There is nothing like “braaivleis” to welcome guests to South Africa and they thoroughly enjoyed Sunday evening on one of the farms in the district. One of the ladies had the following to say on the group’s official Facebook page:
“After a long day bus trip, we were welcomed in Lady Grey with barbecue -Braai- on a farm in the middle of the South African countryside and in the black African night. Then accommodation in private homes. We are greeted by amazing hospitality and now look forward to two eventful days with students and teachers at the Lady Grey Arts Academy.”
After being introduced to the school during assembly on Monday, the group spent the rest of the morning getting to know the school and its people by exploring different classes and experiencing the way of teaching in a multicultural school.
The Junior Choir of the Arts Academy had a rehearsal with Marie Bejstam, an expert choir conductor, who specializes in young choirs.
After a quick visit to Sterkspruit they returned to Lady Grey for a gumboot dance workshop presented by Ignatius “Beast” Monnawabokone.
The busy first day ended on a high note with a traditional South African dinner and a short entertainment programme by students of the Arts Academy and the acclaimed gumboot dance group of the Jimmy Roos School.
Members of the group spent Tuesday morning teaching various Eurhythmic classes. This innovative method is an approach to music education that teaches an understanding of music through ground breaking techniques incorporating rhythmic movement, aural training and physical, vocal and instrumental improvisation.
Barbro Rydinv presented two lessons to Grade 1 and Grade 3 students, using Eurhythmics to teach mathematical concepts like geometry and counting in 10s.
Eva Wedin and Maria Pemsel demonstrated this approach on the Grade 7 and Grade 8 music classes, with each class uniquely designed to teach the same principles but in an age-appropriate manner.
The Altech Concert Choir spent the rest of the afternoon teaching the visitors our National Anthem and a few other traditional songs. They also had the opportunity to listen to the Swedish Anthem and a few traditional Swedish and Norwegian songs, beautifully sung by the visitors.
The entry on the group’s Page for the day reads:
“The sun shines over Lady Grey this Tuesday morning and we prepare ourselves for another day at school. A day on which many children and young people should get to play and make music with the Swedish teachers – singing songs about numbers and singing in cannon. Hands clapping rhythms and feet dancing (stomping) on the floor. Joy is spread over and over again and everyone is caught up in this lovely feeling! Nkosi Sikelel ‘ iAfrika, Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo… The song quickly fills the air, and there we sit, enveloped by all those amazing voices. Suddenly we hear the clapping, then a drum and some stamp. It won’t be long before everyone stands up and dance. It is so clear that we have so much to give and learn from each other! The noise level rises and I get quite warm in spirit! That feeling will remain in me for a long time. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela”
One of the highlights of the visit was a special performance of West Side Story on Tuesday evening followed by a cocktail dinner.
On Wednesday morning the group departed for Bloemfontein to fly to Cape Town on the last leg of their visit to South Africa. Ing-Marie Lindberg-Thörnberg, Lecturer in Eurhythmics at the Royal College of Music, wrote as follows:
“March 4, in the bus from Lady Grey at the airport in Bloemfontein: Lady Grey Arts Academy has been a Grand experience. Students, teachers and other staff have shown us what can be done with limited resources. Everyone is proud and happy and without reservation, all topped with an amazing commitment. No one complains…; Thank you all in Lady Grey!”
And as we continue with our day-to-day activities at the Lady Grey Arts Academy, the words of one of the songs which our new friends often sang during their stay in Lady Grey, echoes in the minds and hearts of many:
“Who can sail without the wind?
Who can row without oars?
Who can say goodbye to friends without tears?
I can sail without the wind…
I can row without oars…
But I can never say goodbye to friends without tears.”