Children and youth from disadvantaged families in Mamelodi East, Gauteng and surrounding areas are being given a life-changing opportunity through music.
Mamelodi Music Conservatoire (MMC) is a non-profit organisation founded by Mmatapa Ramatjela in 2009, while she was studying towards a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Pretoria (UP).
The organisation offers classical music lessons to children and youth aged between 7 and 22 years-old who stay in and around Mamelodi East.
“Our mission is to address the growing need and shortage of classical music education in Mamelodi, and to curb crime and drug abuse amongst youth,” says Ramatjela.
The MMC offers classes on Saturdays from 8am until 5pm and during school holidays at Koos Matli Primary School to 82 students.
They learn how to play different music genres and to perform in youth orchestras' and community events.
The lessons include music history and theory, playing instruments including violin, viola, cello, guitar, voice, recorder, bassoon, piano, trumpet, and trombone.
“The support that we receive from parents is amazing because they are involved in the project,” she says.
Bringing the idea to life
Ramatjela was inspired to establish the organisation in her first year of study at UP when her music education lecturer required students to create any type of music-related business. She recruited her friend, Anna Moila and pitched the idea to her.
“Moila agreed to help me bring the idea to life. We visited different primary school principals in Mamelodi East to sell the idea and they supported us,” she says.
According to Ramatjela, MMC operates under the University of South Africa (Unisa) Music Foundation, which supplies instruments and maintenance, accredited music teachers, books, and exam fees.
With guidance from qualified and dedicated music teachers, MMC students also enrol for practical and theoretical examinations at Unisa music department, which awards them with certificates when they have passed.
“Our learners also perform at the Unisa Tshwane Metro Festival annually. They also enter for the Pretoria Eisteddfods, and in 2022, we were fortunate enough to have been invited to open the stage at the tribute concert at Moretele Park,” she says.
Ramatjela adds that some of the students are part of the Unisa Music Foundation Orchestra, the Unisa Music Foundation Youth Orchestra and the North West University Symphony Orchestra. She wishes to establish a Mamelodi Youth Orchestra.
Apart from keeping the children occupied, Ramatjela says MMC wishes to make available an essential service in the community, and create jobs for students who have completed their degrees in various fields of art and administration.
“The main challenge that we are facing is lack of funding, because we wish to include more teachers, buy instruments and accessories including music stands, pick-ups, and guitar foot stools; and to pay the supporting staff,” she says.
The organisation is also struggling to secure a permanent place to run operations and to store equipment.
“We have applied for land through the City of Tshwane. We are still awaiting outcomes,” she says.
How to join
Parents who would like to enrol their children to MMC can submit applications at Koos Matli Primary School in the beginning of January (on Saturdays) until the end of the month. Applications are also open in June.
“We only admit children who cannot afford to pay for music tuition. Their parents must be unemployed or earning less than R7 000 salary per month,” she says.
“They also have to pay a once-off R450 fee and submit the applicants birth certificate/ID copy with the application form,” Ramatjela said.
For more information, contact Khensani Khumalo: 081 536 9508 or Julliet Ndlovu: 081 811 8367.