Violin lessons give Masi youth a sound footing

The head of Masi Violin Outreach, Nadiah Mony, with former students, Ayabonga Tshemese, and Onke Mbopha. Picture: Anton Crone.

A music teacher is appealing to the public to support an outreach programme that teaches the violin to the youth in Masiphumelele

Nadiah Mony is the head of Masi Violin Outreach, a non-profit company, based at Masicorp in Masiphumelele.

Masicorp is an NGO and was founded in 1999. It supports the community of Masiphumelele through early childhood development programmes and professional skills training for adults.

Ms Mony lives in Newlands, but she is originally from KwaZulu-Natal and previously lived in Hout Bay.

“I grew up in a family of musicians, my mother is a music teacher (pianist and flautist), my father plays flute and guitar and my grandfather was Walter Mony, a renowned violinist, composer and conductor.

“My violin teacher, Titia Blake, originally founded Masi Violin Outreach. I started volunteering there in my final year of studies in 2016, where I completed my music degree at UCT,“ she said.

It had been during her volunteering stint that she had noticed how powerful and therapeutic teaching music could be, she said.

“I quickly realised this was much more than just teaching music. Music can be a catalyst for positive change. Through music, we foster creativity, emotional stability, and the children there are incredible. They are so receptive, fearless, and they inspire me every day.”

She took over as head of Masi Violin Outreach in 2020.

“Since then, we became a registered NPC in March last year. Our classes have also grown drastically. In 2022, we had 30 students; 2023, we mentored 48 children, and in 2024, we will have 64 students.”

The students are aged from 7 to 18.

Onke Mbopha is a former student who now assists with teaching.

“I was introduced to the outreach through a friend who was a classmate and a member of the programme at the time. At first, what drew me was seeing a guitar being played using this stick (bow) that was a bit small and different from a usual guitar.

“Then it was the sound it made. I just fell in love and wanted to see myself being able to play instantly, but little did I know it takes time to perfect it. I would describe the outreach as my saviour, my escape from the real world. It helped me deal with many of my mental issues, and it took me places I never imagined myself in,“ Mr Mbopha said.

Ayabonga Tshemese, another assistant teacher and former student, said learning to play the violin had improved his self-discipline.

“In the beginning, it was quite hard, but after three months, I started to enjoy it and realised I could learn anything by ear. One challenge was when I started high school I started to learn to read music, which was difficult but I kept trying, and now I can read the sheet music. Now I want to teach and give back to the community,” Mr Tshemese said.

The organisation is asking the public to make monthly donations in support of the programme.

“For R95 a month, you can support a child’s music lessons. They receive two lessons a week, lunch before their lesson, their own violin and music theory books and perform at concerts and events,” Ms Mony said.

In 2021 and last year, some of the outreach programme’s older students auditioned successfully for the Junior String Ensemble, which is part of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s youth development programme.

For more information, contact Nadiah Mony at masiviolinoutreach@gmail.com.