Veteran jazz musician Lulama Gawulana has taken it upon himself to teach music to children at the Masizakhe Children’s Home in Mdantsane as his way of giving back to the community.
Gawulana, who has just returned from performing at the annual Grahamstown National Arts Festival, started teaching the children the basics of bass, drums, piano and guitar two years ago.
The Mdantsane guitarist, who has been a mainstay on the Eastern Cape Jazz scene for decades, said he was moved to action when he realised that children at the centre often sat twiddling their thumbs as he passed the NU2 centre.
“I teach them the basics of bass, drums, piano and guitar as well as music theory,” said Gawulana.
“I am able to do this because I have been in love with music from an early age. I was born into a musical family and I have been a professional musician for many years.”
The musician teaches the children at least three times a week for a couple of hours.
“It is like therapy for some of these kids, who have gone through abuse. It can heal their hearts and minds,” he said.
The children are aged between 10 and 18 years.
While the budding musicians are eager to learn the art, the challenge of not having all the required instruments and equipment makes things difficult for both teacher and students.
But Gawulana is determined to beat the odds and hopefully produce a gem from the group.
He brings guitars, basses, keyboards and other instruments for the children to practise on during their lessons as the school has never had a music department before.
“I do this for free. It is my duty as a musician to share my knowledge and skills. I have even donated a drumset but I unfortunately cannot provide everything.
“Watching these kids grow I think it is possible some of them could even become professional musicians – they just need help,” he said.
“I am hoping that next year we can take some of these children to Grahamstown so that they can experience the National Youth Jazz Festival.”
The home’s director, Luyanda Lusizi, a big Gawulana fan, said since the musician started teaching the children, there had been a vast improvement in their attitude.
“When he [Gawulana] first came here I could not believe it. I have this man’s albums and now he is here to teach these kids.
“There have been many changes in the children since they began to learn music – they are a lot more disciplined and happy thanks to Lulama,” said Lusizi.
Gawulana and Lusizi appealed for donations of instruments and equipment.
- To donate contact the home on 043-761-3012.