Field Band Foundation

Youth Development through Music & Dance

Author: f13Ld (page 1 of 4)

The Field Band Foundation operates over 40 bands consisting of more than 6 000 members in 22 localities across South Africa. Each field band has an average of two rehearsals a week and 15 public performances a year. Click to find a Field Band near you:
You can also book a Field Band performance by contacting Sello Ramosepele on

Monday Motivation

Congratulation to Dennis Tlou, Freddy Mondhlana,Tshepo Siloto and Khayalethu Benela on doing exceptionally well on The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music ABRSM practical exams.

These four FBF members took the exams on 23 May 2017, and they all passed, gaining one distinction and two merit certificates along the way. Well done!




Letlhogonolo Modisane (centre) and with his family

Gontse Motlhabane (left) with his mother










Two members of the Field Band Foundation (FBF), Gontse  Motlhabane from the Investec Alexandra Field Band and Letlhogonolo Modisane from the Setlabotjha Field Band, recently left for the USA to take part in the multi-city tour of that country’s top class  Pioneer Drum &and Bugle Corps. The Corps is a longstanding partner of the FBF.

This comes after Gontse and Letlhogonolo showed outstanding musical abilities, along with their initiative and determination to participate fully in Foundation activities.

Since 2001, more than 53 FBF members have gone to the US in this programme.

Our FBF members are kindly hosted by Pioneers Corps director Roman Blenski and his family while they acclimatise to the country, foods, and cultural habits, before starting rehearsals.

Baleni and Tugwana aboard



Former National Union of Mineworkers head Frans Baleni and current City of Johannesburg spokesman Gabu Tugwana have been elected to the Field Band Foundation’s (FBF) Board of Directors.

Baleni, who was NUM General Secretary from 2006 to 2015, is also deputy chairman of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, a member of the Council of the University of Johannesburg, and a director of Petro SA, among others. His long career in mining saw his involvement in SA’s epoch-making Codesa negotiations and in social citizenship fora, including as chairman until recently of the JB Marks Bursary Trust Fund, and in the corporate sustainability work of the Institute of Directors.

Gabu Tugwana was appointed spokesman to Johannesburg’s Executive Mayor (and former FBF chairman), Cllr Herman Mashaba, in October last year. He is a former journalist at various publications including the Rand Daily Mail; The World and Weekend World; and the community-based, nationally distributed New Nation. He also edited the New Nation with the late Zwelakhe Sisulu. He has been working for the City for 13 years in the Group Communication Department.

Welcoming the Foundation’s new directors, FBF chairman Brian Gibson said that Baleni and Tugwana bring vast experience and wisdom to the leadership of the Foundation. “Gabu returns to the board after a long break and Frans is fast making an impact. Both are encouraged by their colleagues to continue with the activism that contributed to the democratic transformation that our young band members enjoy today. Their sacrifices and public spiritedness stand as a fine example to us all.”

The Foundation is governed by a board of directors consisting of private sector leadership of the highest calibre, maintaining robust financial controls and governance procedures across the company. It is unusual in attracting support from across industry sectors, locally and internationally, from public and private sectors.

The FBF improves the quality of life of disadvantaged young people and gives them an opportunity to build a better future. Through music and movement, members take part in positive, joyful and affirming activities that teach them lifeskills and that develop their imagination, team spirit and self-discipline.

Fit for Purpose year kicks off with leader training

A consolidated curriculum of training in lifeskills, music, choreography, performance movement, and project management that is rolling through Field Band operations this 20th year, complemented by intensive training of leaders and tutors from all operations in early-2017.

The first of the latter, a three-day gathering of individual Field band leaders (Programme Officers) was held in January at the Tshikululu Social Investments training facilities in Johannesburg, managed by FBF head office staff and by external trainers. Modules included team management, inter-personal communication skills, emotional intelligence, company logistical requirements, partner reporting, 2017 communication themes.

Then, special training in the Free State’s Parys was given in January to Field Band Peer Educators from different operations, focussing on gender equality and social inclusion.

These were followed in February with a week-long workshop, also in Parys, Free State, for 50 Field band tutors from across SA, run by teams from Field Band Education and from the Foundation’s PULSE initiative. This gave training in leadership, teaching techniques, and in lifeskills, along with arts training. The tutor workshop closed with a parade through the Tumahole township, and the staging of a community concert.

Flying the flag, sharing lessons in Norway


CEO Nicky du Plessis headed north this month to visit long-term FBF project partner, the Norwegian Band Federation (NMF).  The NMF and FBF have started the first year of the second round of funding from FK Norway for the PULSE Project and this visit enables partner discussions and meetings with stakeholders to take place.

PULSE allows the broader community development benefits of music to be more clearly identifiable to participants, helping them to develop relevant ways of operating at band level to greatest positive developmental effect in all facets of their lives.

PULSE uses strong elements of knowledge-sharing in its approach. Participants from South Africa and Norway on the programme learn about and teach in each other’s communities, both benefitting from their own unique societal experiences in challenges of diversity, cross-cultural integration, working with disability, and related issues of social inclusion. The practical benefits of these learnings are taken in structured training to communities where Field Bands operate.

Du Plessis will spend time with the four young FBF members currently flying South Africa’s flag in Norway as they engage with school bands in Bergen and Oslo: Thulani Dupa, Sizwe Nkosi, Sihle Mabena and Masibulele Langa.  These PULSE South participants use FBF methods and repertoire in their teaching and performing, which have been well received by all.

Perhaps the fact that they are also starting to teach in Norwegian (having been hard at work in language classes since they arrived in September 2016) also contributes to their success. Dupa says, “We realise that the kids relate differently, even if we have just a few words, and we learn with every lesson too”.

We are proud of this team who have navigated a long cold winter full of snow and ice to learn new skills and broaden their experiences of using music to bring young people together.  In collaboration with NMF staff, our young South African leaders will facilitate a special holiday programme for over 200 young musicians, called VinterPULSE!

Lifeskills, games, visual arts and musical performance management will be taught for a week, culminating in a concert that du Plessis will attend.  This is the second year that this holiday programme has been held and it is a significant part of the outreach and inclusion work being done by the NMF.


20 years of your Foundation – an FBF Fit for Purpose

Dear Friend of the Foundation

The Field Band Foundation has reopened its central offices at the start of our massive “Fit for Purpose” year. This year marks our 20th of making “Music for Life!” – a journey that has seen more than 50 000 young South Africans pass through our lifeskills and musical training programmes.

It is an enormous achievement, and it is one that belongs to many people, both within the formal Foundation, and among our broader Foundation Family of supporters in South Africa, and across the world. We thank every one of you, deeply, for your part in this.

We will celebrate these two decades through this year, culminating in four regional gatherings of Field Bands through the country, and a special supporters’ celebration, in October, while also announcing important “step-up-rollouts” of our work, the start of a redesign of how we operate. In this, we are working with main partners to deepen the positive long-term effects of Field Band Foundation activities and of their inter-generational outcomes.

While some may feel that ours is a country best described in “hashtags-and-falling”, our actual destiny is more clearly seen in the youngsters who have raised the flag and marched in FBF formations, changing the future of us all.

They do this with the sureness that comes from you walking alongside. What a thing to behold, in many places already and others yet to come, of tomorrow’s positive realisation being fashioned by our youth. It is your and our story too, and profoundly so: #FBF-SouthAfricaARISE!

Indeed, we have a good year ahead, friends, and we look forward to this next part of our exciting journey together, as we continue on to a tomorrow of promise that South Africa will realise.

With warm wishes
Nicky du Plessis
Chief Executive Officer

“A year of solid achievements”

CEO Nicky du Plessis reports on a 2016 of significance


As 2016 comes to a close, the Field Band Foundation NPC (FBF) looks back on a year of highlights that are even more proudly acknowledged because they were hard but sincerely won. We determinedly focused on our vision to continue to increase opportunities for our members to experience themselves positively and creatively, and found some new ways to do this. There have been a number of significant performance and educational events throughout the calendar, and we have benefited from new partnerships while refreshing long-standing relationships.

Soweto’s gathering of FBF champions

On 20 February, the National Championships took place at the Nike Football Training Stadium in Soweto. This marvelously equipped venue enabled us to host 12 of the top bands with 1 500 members, and over 150 spectators drawn from our private and public stakeholders. For the first time, Limpopo’s De Beers Blouberg band took first prize, with PFG Londulusha Springs in second place, followed by Limpopo again, with the De Beers Musina band. This surely demonstrates the success of FBF projects in remote areas and underscores our strength in being able to sustain enormous geographical coverage.

In alignment with the imperative to reach beyond urban centres and support increased access to the arts, the national Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) was the primary partner for this event. The FBF social media team ensured that we “broke” the internet by trending as one of the top five national Twitter “hot topics” on this day! The power of arts events to attract attention should not be underestimated. De Beers once again co-sponsored the VIP hospitality event, which also featured a photographic exhibition by Angela Buckland, entitled “The Special Relationship”. This exhibition of moving and inspiring images was drawn from the three Free State bands mandated to develop methodologies to work with members with disabilities.

Reporting of the highest standard

Our 82-page 2015/16 Report to Society also contains a selection of these photographs that provide dignity and respect to our beneficiaries and their triumphs. We are pleased that this annual report was shortlisted for top honours in South African NPO reporting by the SA Chartered Secretaries Association.

National Youth Celebration

Once again, the DAC came forward in support of the FBF on 7 October, this time at the Fezile Dabi Stadium in Tumahole, Parys, with a National Youth Celebration that featured 780 band members and 13 bands, including of course, all the Free State bands who set a tone for breaking down prejudices towards people with disabilities. The event was honoured with high-level representation from local and national government, and was a joyful demonstration of the confidence and skills that FBF activities impart to all participants. These large-scale performance events are critical in building pride and inclusion, and these lessons are reinforced by the performances the bands do continuously throughout the year in their own communities. In 2016 there were 134 performances involving our 6 742 members.

Upgrading our educational assets

In order to help band members to learn and improve, the on-going education activities of the FBF must be maintained throughout the year and our change agents – the band tutors – supported with constant skills transfer to boost their capacities to teach and inspire. The educational assets created by the Field Band Academy of methods and materials were transferred to the head office in 2016 and a transition towards e-learning systems put in place. This will mean that the considerable amount of learning materials generated through years of partnership with educators from our Norwegian partner, the Norwegian Band Federation (NMF) and the ROOTS project, can now be disseminated to more tutors. We are extremely grateful to all the ROOTS team members who have made this possible, and our team leader for 2016, David Thatanelo April, who provided guidance during this process. The FBF now has a Resource Centre with dedicated technology that will support continued roll out of structured life skills and music education from 2017.

For the first time, a national tutors workshop with 74 young leaders from bands all over the country, was held in Parys in July. An intensive 10 days of music-making, learning, facilitating, talking and sharing resulted, with input on gender awareness, values-based facilitation and the psycho-social development of the young band members we deal with. Tumahole township reverberated with the sounds of a street parade and a concert to celebrate the end of this event, and we were particularly pleased to know we had good representation from our partners in the disability sector present.

Launching the next phase of PULSE!

The PULSE! project, which focused on the relationship between music and health, has been well integrated into the overall educational strategy so that FBF is becoming smarter about how to implement the development of emotional resilience and life skills in members. This is critical to help young people make healthy and empowered choices about their lives. We are proud that we have been given another three years of funding for this project from FK Norway, in collaboration with NMF. Welcome to our “new” team of four Norwegians who will be resident with us till August 2017, and bravo to the four FBF members who are spending 10 months with the NMF bands in Norway. Please read their wonderful blog on to learn about the adventures of cultural diversity and international exchange – extraordinary learning experiences all round.

Operations shut and opened

On another as important but more sober note, this year we also had to face the closure of two projects where funding was not continued and the retrenchment of staff members as the financial management function of the organisation was outsourced. These are never occasions for celebration, but are sometimes necessary to maintain good governance and financial sustainability. We are proud of another unqualified audit and we are striving to improve our internal systems all the time. The FBF salutes everyone who has been part of this work and always looks forward to being able to responsibly extend our projects when additional resources become available.

On that note, we are pleased to announce that one of those closed projects (Danielskuil) will re-open in 2017 with additional partners on board, and a new project in Molteno/Sterkstroom will begin early in the new year. In addition, FBF partnered very successfully with CHABHIVA (Church and Business against HIV and Aids) in the Springs band and secured a US Community Grant from PEPFAR for the first time, which supported new parenting programmes and continued social support and HIV education in selected bands. Once again, we partnered with the Wits School of Arts and offered work experience for Arts Management students as part of our contribution to growing the sector.

“Fit for Purpose” with you in 2017

As our FBF values remind us, we are all only as strong as our network and partnerships that enable us to play the role we aspire to as a community development project. Without the support of our private, public and international partners, the FBF could not look back on this 2016 year of achievements and activities. A drum roll and a many-trumpet salute to you all! Without you, we also cannot look forward to 2017 either. A most significant year for us as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. A number of celebratory events are being planned and we look forward to sharing these details with you in January. Suffice to say, our determination remains undaunted and perhaps even doubled, as we prepare to stand proudly in support of the achievements of our young people and this organisation that will forever strive to be fit for purpose and most importantly, fit for the future.

Nicolette du Plessis
Chief Executive Officer
Field Band Foundation
December 2016.

Content queries, along with suggestions and other feedback, are welcome, and should kindly be directed to the CEO, c/o; or to the CEO, Field Band Foundation, P O Box 5596, Rivonia, Johannesburg, 2191, RSA.

Special end-2016 message from FBF Patron Loyiso Bala…

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