IT has been just more than a year since a Port Elizabeth high school started a marimba band and they are already walking away with top honours at national competitions.
Sakhisizwe Senior Secondary from Zwide hit the right notes when they competed against 26 other marimba groups around the country at the annual Marimba Education Foundation festival in Johannesburg in July.
Yesterday the school received their two trophies from Marimba Education Foundation executive director Hildé Gordon, who said the foundation's aim was to bring marimba playing to as many schools as possible.
"But we are concentrating on the under-resourced schools. They competed against professional bands and top schools in the country and won the trophies in the high school section and the open section.
"Marimba playing gives the kids a platform to express themselves," said Gordon, who is working on having next year's festival in Port Elizabeth.
The school's music teacher and Eastern Cape project manager, Rewallen Blaauw, said the pupils' confidence levels had increased.
"There are 17 schools in the Zwide circuit that play marimba now. When we started this programme, the pupils' confidence levels were low. But now their communication skills have developed and we have heard from the teachers that they are not afraid to participate in class," he said.
Siyabulela Gqalane, 20, a Grade 11 pupil said: "I am very happy that we won at the festival. I only started playing in the band this year and now I can also play flute and trumpet. Music is a great way of expressing yourself."
The school's principal, Mzimkhulu Qunta, who was last year's The Herald GM Citizen of the Year Award winner, said he was proud of his pupils.
"I went to Johannesburg with them and before they were named as the winners, I was already happy with the way they played.
"It is good to see their hard work paying off because they came in after hours and during school holidays to practise," he said.
Blaauw said the 16-piece band was available to perform at any function.
To book them contact the school at (041)464-5627 or call Blaauw on 074-536-1679.