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DURBAN MUSIC SCHOOL (article first published : 2002-10-7)

The Central Business District has been given a new lease of life with the recent renovation of a number of old buildings on St. Andrews Street. The Durban Music School has re-opened in newly refurbished premises next to the Old House Museum. The new building has secure parking and 21 teaching rooms enabling the school to accommodate up to 500 students. The high ceilings and thick brick walls make for excellent acoustics. The Diakonia Centre has also recently been renovated on the same street. This is good news for the city's urban renewal plans and St. Andrews Street will celebrate at the end of this year with a music festival on 24 November. The festival will include performances by Durban Music School students.

Music may be considered a luxury by many people in South Africa but Werner Dannewitz, Director of the Durban Music School, believes it to be essential for human development. He has spent the last ten years trying to provide affordable musical education for all young people who wish to study music in KZN.

The old Durban Music School situated in Overport was forced to close in 1998 after the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department stopped funding music as a subject. The school was determined not to close permanently, however and instead moved, temporarily, to Durban High School. Werner Dannewitz, the school's Director approached Operation Jumpstart who stepped in with the necessary funding to refurbish the building that the school now calls home in St. Andrews Street.

Today the Durban Music School welcomes students from all over Durban and bursaries are available for disadvantaged students. The teachers come from a variety of different backgrounds; some are KZN Philharmonic Orchestra musicians, others are jazz musicians. Teachers are open-minded about diverse music forms and actively encourage pupils to develop individual musical tastes. Efforts are made to ensure that each pupil's musical preferences are catered for and incorporated into lessons. The one on one nature of the lessons allows for greater personal attention. Lessons are taught at evenings and weekends, enabling students to continue their academic education elsewhere and attend music classes after school.

The forward thinking attitude the school has adopted has allowed for many students under its care to flourish and two of its students are currently studying music full-time in Europe. Andile Khumalo is studying trumpet in Germany and Njabulo Mtshali has been accepted at the prestigious Bergen Conservatoire of Music in Norway.

For more information on music tuition and the Durban Music School phone 031 304 1001.




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