We acquired the building from Natal Lotto- Operation Jump Start paid R 750 000.00 for it. It was in a state of disrepair and we were granted a further R2 000 000.00 for alterations and refurbishment. In January 2001 the doors of the new Durban Music School opened. The alterations were complete and we started with 25 fee paying learners. There were a few adult learners but no bursaries as yet. Six teachers were employed and the school offered lessons in flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, piano and keyboard.
Five of the teachers formed the management committee: Theo Venter, Anne Duthie, Milton Johnson, Nontekusi Mlangeni, Brian Thusi and Werner Dannewitz was the Chairman.
The KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band came under the umbrella of the school even though the Band is run by a committee and many of the members were trained by the school. They went to Vienna in July to compete in a music competition and came second. Werner Dannewitz was chosen as the Director of the school and Jane Pitt was employed half day.
Instruments were transferred from Durban High School where they had been in storage with permission from the Natal Education Department. The official opening took place on Tuesday, 5 June 2001.
At the start of 2002 there were 31 learners at the school and the 1st 10 bursaries from Lotto were started. These learners were sent from Siyakula Music Centre in Umlazi. At this centre they are trained to grade 3 and then they need to be trained by more specialized teachers. In November of this year we had our first street festival which was used as a way to introduce the Music School to the community. This was a success and laid the foundation for all the other festivals which have become eagerly awaited fixtures on the calendar of the Albert Park Community. The problem of finding the running costs started and the Director Mr Dannewitz went to Arts Organisations, music lovers and the CEO of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, Bongani Tembe, to help to keep the doors open. The management committee was actively involved in trying to raise funds as well. Interest was been shown from previously disadvantaged communities and it was realized that the youth of KZN have a hunger to learn to play an instrument that far out weighed the amount of bursaries we had to offer. It was then decided that our bursary programme should cater for 350 learners if it were to achieve the vision of the school. Violin lessons were offered as an option to our learners.
In January Cell-C gave the school R 250 000.00 towards the running costs. Pupil figures rose from 25 in 2001 to 150. The 3rd St Andrew’s Street Music Festival took place on the 23rd September and was financed by Durban Metro to the tune of R 94,000. and it ran over two days. This formed part of the Celebrate Durban Festival. Our 1st bursary student successfully passed his Royal Schools grade 4 exam. A junior Windband was established. Bartel Arts Trust gave bursaries to start a string programme and 16 learners were introduced to this programme. Monthly concerts took place. In June the school was given Section 21Company status. In July a new Board took over from the Management Committee to deal with the affairs of the school. The school’s Patron, Bongani Tembe, was made Chairman of this board. The Minister of Arts, Culture and Tourism, Narend Sing came to see the school. In November a Free Christmas Concert was held in the Street for the community and was a great success.
The Director of the school, the Board of Directors and Mr Tony Henderson, Reginal Manager of Cell-C KZN realized that this venture was worth supporting and it needs a long term commitment to achieve its objectives. In September Cell-C received the B.A.S.A Chairman’s award for thier support of South African music, Arts and Culture. A mid-year learner’s concert was held. The Street festival was again a success and Durban Metro sponsored it. The KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band were invited to tour the United Kingdom on a concert tour and performed in Wales, Cambridge and Leeds. A fundraiser was brought on board by Werner Dannewitz as he realized the need for greater support from corporate business and for the expansion of the programme to meet the target in our mission statement. A community Christmas concert was held at the end of November. Our local ward councilor Trevor Prince got involved with our first street festival and in 2005 he identified 20 young learners from the community who started lessons on bursaries.
Students from the school played at the Mayors inauguration with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. Our concerts included a mid-year student concert as well as the September Cell-C street festival. In November the Christmas Concert was enjoyed by people from the local community. The Government agreed that music could be taken as a matric subject and the school decided to add this option to the programmes we offer. We started a string ensemble. Werner Dannewitz was given an award of excellent achievement for Youth Music Development from the Department of Arts, Culture,Tourism, KZN. The KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band was invited by the Mauritian Department of Arts and Culture to Mauritius, They performed a Gala Concert for the President which was televised live and was very well received.
The exterior of the school was painted. Four pianos were donated to the school and one was given to an adult learner who comes from a disadvantaged community. The student concert was held in the middle of the year. Our junior wind band and the string ensemble were involved in community concerts. The junior band performed at Ray Hulett House for the Aged and at St Martins Children’s Home. The string ensemble performed at Glenhaven Retirement Home. Our Cell-C street festival was a huge success and for the first time we invited a youth group from the U.K. to join us. This was the Leeds Jazz Youth Orchestra and it was part of a cultural exchange programme. The KZNYWB had been hosted by them in 2005 when they toured the U.K. Our Christmas concert had to be held in our auditorium as the weather turned awful but this didn’t dampen our sprits and it was a very successful concert. We had two new board members voted on to the board. Mr. Nicholas Wallander, Cell-C and Sergeant Major Vuma Gabashe, bandmaster for the SADF Band. At the beginning of the year a new ward councilor took over from Trevor Prince, Vusi Khoza is very enthusiastic about the school and helps to encourage young people in the area to come and apply for bursaries.
There have been many exciting things happening at the Durban Music School during this year: After three years of pushing for a subsidy for the teachers this year in April, Mr. Dannewitz was able to implement it. This means that for every lesson costing R1 125.00 the school is subsidizing R 195.00 of that amount. A half-day student co-ordinator was employed as our bursary programme has grown considerably. Rand Merchant Bank came on board and have agreed to give the school R 945 000.00 over the next three years which will enable us to reach more milestones. We were given R 100 000.00 towards new instruments by Mrs. Ackerman and the Rupert-Musiekstigting. Our fee paying students have increased to 93 and our bursary students now number 101 with 50 learners registered to start as soon as the money comes in. The University of KwaZulu-Natal have loaned us a keyboard lab which will be a huge help as many learners show an interest in keyboard. Durban Metro has agreed to build a permanent stage outside the school and this should be finished at the end of Oct. This will be for the benefit of the entire Albert Park Community as the stage can be used even when the school is closed. Hopefully there will be many concerts performed over weekends showcasing local talent. We now have six teachers who are ex-students and this has always been a vision of the school that once our learners are qualified they can then teach at the school. The KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band held a very successful Gala concert in the Playhouse on the 14th May. This concert showcased the amazing talent that is coming out of the Durban Music School. On the 24th June our mid year learner’s concert was held and again the standard of playing is proof that our Youth Music Development program is making good progress. Two of our ex flute students achieved their masters degrees through KZN University. Both are cadets in the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. One of Werner Dannewitz’s saxophone students performed her licentiate exam through Royal Schools of Music in May. This same musician has been accepted to study classical saxophone at two conservatoires in France. She was also invited to master classes in Rhodes and France. She played with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra in their Young Performers Concert which was held in the Playhouse in May. One of our violin teachers was chosen to perform with the Jeunesses Musicales World Youth Orchestra in Canada during August. The school’s building is now valued at R 10 000 000.00. 34 learners have been entered for external exams in September with Royal schools or Trinity. This is the first year that the Durban Music School has 3 learners enrolled to do music through the school as a matric subject. The results of the schools internal exams which took place during the first two weeks of June were very encouraging with the majority of learners achieving high marks. The school employs 21 teachers on a part time basis. We still have two of our original students who were part of our first bursary intake. Andre De Kock and Nokotula Vesi, who has chosen music as one of her matric subjects. If the school can secure the core costs, the next project would be the introduction of a voice training program. The KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band will be competing in a music competition in July 2009 in Vienna. One of our bursary learners Sifiso Langa was invited to go to Norway for three weeks in June with the Field band Foundation and another learner Goodman was given a bursary by the Salvation Army to study in U.S.A. for a month in August.