by Evans Netshivhambe in

 

The SAMRO Foundation has awarded bursaries worth over R1-million to music students, with an online tool streamlining the applications and judging.

A total of 103 music study bursaries, each amounting to R10 000, have been granted to second- and third-year students, as well as honours, master’s and doctoral candidates, at 13 South African universities.

These awards are designed to help aspiring performers, composers, researchers and teachers pay their tuition fees for their degree or diploma studies in Western Art music, jazz and indigenous African music.

The majority of the bursaries – 57 – were awarded for undergraduate study, but 28 went to honours students, 16 to students reading for their masters’ degrees and two to students seeking to obtain their PhD in music.

Awarded since 1981, the SAMRO Foundation’s music bursaries form part of its bouquet of education awards geared towards encouraging gifted young people to pursue music as a career.

This includes the annual SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition, in which the country’s best composers, instrumentalists, singers and keyboard players compete for the opportunity to broaden their music horizons through master classes or postgraduate courses at international institutions. This year’s finals for instrumentalists will take place at Johannesburg’s Linder Auditorium on Saturday, 20 August.

In 2016, the SAMRO music bursaries were awarded to music majors enrolled at the University of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Pretoria, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Stellenbosch, North West University, Tshwane University of Technology, the University of the Free State, Rhodes University, the University of Fort Hare, the University of Venda and Walter Sisulu University.

This year, for the second year in a row, candidates were required to submit their bursary applications online. But it was the first time that their submissions were adjudicated online too, using new assessment software developed in-house – making the entire process easier, more cost-effective and virtually paperless.

Commented adjudicator Prof Mageshen Naidoo, director of jazz studies at the University of Pretoria: “I think the online system worked fantastically and it definitely saves a lot of time. It is user-friendly and assists in arriving at a robust decision.”

As has become custom, the SAMRO Foundation receives dozens of letters and emails from appreciative bursary recipients. This year was no different, with the next generation of music educators and trailblazers expressing their heartfelt gratitude for these awards.

Carla de Lange wrote: “This bursary is helping me to take the next step up the ladder of my future. My work as a music teacher is one step closer. The next steps will be accomplished with hard work and dedication.”

Wits music student Masechaba Phakela said the bursary means that her student loan debt will be lower than expected: “This bursary has not only helped fund my education, but I also feel honoured to be recognised for the hard work I put into my studies.”

An email from Mbuti Moloi reads: “This bursary means a lot as it will contribute to my fees, and by extension to the research and documentation of our indigenous music. “

Simangaliso Thango was equally thrilled: “I am currently majoring in performance with hopes of becoming a performer in Western music. The financial assistance you provided will be of great help to me in paying my educational expenses, and it will allow me to concentrate more of my time for studying. I promise you I will work very hard and eventually give something back to others, both as an artist and possibly a scholarship to future students like myself.”

A student from Swaziland currently in her second year at UKZN, Gcina Mavuso, wrote: “Words cannot describe the joy this news has brought me and my family. This is going to change my family’s financial status for the better. The money is going to make a huge difference since my fees will be reduced by R10 000. I would love to thank SAMRO for this wonderful gift.”

Said Keenan Meyer, another beneficiary: “It is through such initiatives that young South African musicians like myself can further develop the arts, especially music, in our beloved country! This bursary will not only benefit me, but also the many lives I vow to change through the beautiful gift of music. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this!”

• Visit www.samrofoundation.org.za for more information on the SAMRO Foundation’s programmes and projects, or follow @SAMROFoundation on Twitter and Facebook.

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