Olifantsfontein Primary School is the only school in the Ekurhuleni North district has a symphony orchestra as an extra mural activity. A symphony orchestra can be defined as a large ensemble of at least 90 players of instruments such as recorder, string, brass, percussion and other similar instruments.
The principal of the School, Mr Lesibana Molepo said in 2019 the school competed for the first time and won two accolades. “At a cluster level we won gold. And at district level we won double gold,” Mr Molepo revealed.
The school believes in two things: First we believe in academic excellence. Secondly we value the importance of sports because we want to develop a balanced learner,” Mr Molepo said.
“We cannot only talk about soccer and netball. We sat down and deliberated this. We asked ourselves what is it that can make our school unique? That’s how we came up with the symphony orchestra idea. It has been running for the past two years now,” said Mr Molepo.
He said the school was fortunate enough to secure Ernst Gouws’ help who played a big role in getting instruments for the school. “We have established close relationship with Yamaha to sponsor our school Yamaha donated 90 pieces of recorders to kickstart the project. Then we assembled a group of 60 learners to start practicing pieces of songs, said Mr Molepo.
The school also has a professional conductor affectionately known as Mr Eustance. So far he trained the following teachers on how to conduct a symphony orchestra: Alfred Ngoasheng, Heidi Bernard and Phumla Manyaka.
“We want to expose this not only to our community but the country at large. A symphony orchestra cannot be played only by professionals out there. We believe it start at school level,” said Mr Molepo. He said whenever there is an event at his school they call their learners to render a rendition. Everyone seems to be impressed by their performance, including parents.
“We want the district to invite our school to give a rendition. We also have an annual Segarona cultural event in our district. When schools do their gumboots dance, or cultural dance we will perform a symphony orchestra. It is so unique,” Mr Molepo said.
Heidi Bernard who is teacher and a coordinator of symphony orchestra said they started with grade 4, 5 and 6 learners. “Now there are at least 90 learners who can play a recorder. So we want to introduce more instruments. We are working closely with Yamaha, and they are going to give us instruments such as drums, the triangle and the bells so that we can introduce them to learners. We are very optimistic and we believe that we are going to be better this year than we were last year,” said Bernard.
In our last article that we published, Mr Molepo revealed that the school has launched an academy. He said in future they are planning to extend it to other sporting codes such as netball.