Field Band Foundation

Youth Development through Music & Dance

Author: f13Ld (page 2 of 5)

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…

Moments from #SANSUISummerCup






















Why top SA companies march with young South Africa



The following reflection about why top SA companies support the FBF was published by the Pretoria News in the Muthobi Foundation’s weekly “Nation Builder” editorial page column on 23 March 2016:

Having spent youthful years in a pipe band at CBC Pretoria, I could easily mistake the work of the non-profit Field Band Foundation (FBF) as being much the same thing – mainly music, with some added benefits, maybe.

Why, then, do top companies like De Beers, Anglo American, Investec, PPC Cement, and the PG Group, invest so consistently in the Foundation’s 48 township marching bands of about 125 children per band? A nice-to-have?

Nope. The real story – one these companies embrace – is much more profound. It is that the FBF’s structured performances in music-making gives youngsters from backgrounds of social and economic devastation a set of critical life skills in discipline, timekeeping, competitiveness, teamwork. They imbue a self-belief that lets them know that they matter, and that they have more choices than they might otherwise imagine. More than 40 000 of them over 20 years, with 6 500 in 2016.

It’s work specifically placed in some of our worst-off places, in bands working intensively four afternoons every week. These are in areas where it otherwise can seem that resignation, despondency, fatalism and worse are the accepted order of life.

After all, SA’s full unemployment rate is 36%, but in these places it can be 50% or higher, and often people have had no work for a decade or more. With no dole, you lose your job, and that’s that, assuming you ever had one. Right now, the SAIRR reports that about 60% of youngsters will not work a single formal job day throughout their Twenties, and what chance after that? For where all economic activity ceases, then so does social recreation, sports, schooling success, basic standards in behaviour, respect for self, admiration of elders, and on.

These are, to put it mildly, “very hard places”, as CEO Nicky du Plessis reminded the Foundation at end-2015: “These are sometimes whole communities where disappointment is an inter-generational mentor, where the soul tastes defeat in every form, and where people’s souls die by inches. Gangsters become symbols of action.

“These places are where we will form up, raise South Africa’s flag, and march. They are our reason. Winning the battle-of-the-role-model is our programme to liberation and widening horizons; a victory that comes in many parts”.

That battle means them emphasising ethics, insisting on discipline because young people are worth it, demanding excellence, teaching values-based life practices (which has helped destroy HIV’s grip, down from 20% of Field Band members two decades back, to today’s 0,1%). And some members get extra training in Norway and the US each year.

Field Band officers watch with eagle eye for the children being beaten senseless or raped in homes given over to darkness; or who have little more than the shirt on their back; or are always without any shoes; or – as happens – have begun starvation’s descent.

That’s when the FBF operation called “Children in Distress” kicks in – with targeted food-to-home shipments, psycho-social interventions, policing, clothing, counselling, household visits – individual missions that have had to triple in number these past 18 months.

Just last year that meant 825 special home interventions; 723 members individually cared for; and emergency succour reaching them and their families: 2 892 people in all.

It underlined a January reminder to all operations: “Our young and our country are calling us, and we know we are equal to this. That is our duty”.

It is why we should all sit up and notice a remarkable thing. It is a thing that matters because we aren’t witness here to the lazily stereotypical story of the crumpled-African-child-in-the-dust-covered-with-flies.

Instead, we are witness to thousands of young South Africans, backed by some of our top companies, parading across SA’s Fields of Despair; utterly changing their and our reality. They scorn defeat in a profoundly consequential credit to their country and to their generation. They are South Africa’s Field Band story, and they’re darned fine companies who march alongside them.


Picturing our lives


 Thanks to special grants made for this purpose by the De Beers Group of Companies – primary supporter of the Field Band Foundation since 2006 – a commission of one of SA’s most thoughtful photographers of socio-economic imagery, Durban-based Angela Buckland, affords some sharing of her insights about how the Foundation, made flesh by band members, works day-to-day.

In this project, Ms. Buckland spent time in early 2016 (24/7) with various members of the three Ponahalo De Beers Field Bands in the Free State’s Parys, Viljoenskroon, and near the De Beers Voorspoed Diamond Mines (Kroonstad). She shared the full gamut of the days of individual band members and their families of differing context, including some of disability. The resultant “day-in-the-life” portraits are drawn into phases whose starkness can hide their deeper revelations – but not for long.

An unusual triumph, we are now witness to a deeply significant offering, every bit more compelling thanks to its empathetic curiosity, acknowledgement of limits to seeing, marker of telling nuance, and understated respect for subject, all with a quiet agape love. The Foundation is pleased to share this representative sample of the project’s work with you through our Report to Society, and commends De Beers for making that happen.

To purchase a full set of this unique collection, please contact Angela Buckland on

South Africans of substance


The Foundation’s public reporting is one element of an FBF communication effort that involves specialists from across the media industry coming together in what might be the strongest collection of comms talent backing a cause in SA. The FBF Report to Society is the latest example of what this means.

Indeed, to accurately capture the Foundation’s story into a single publication and to keep it as an accurate, easy-to-grasp rendering of complex work takes special care. In this, we are truly fortunate to receive outstanding publication design and production, pro bono, from the top class creative and design team of Ogilvy & Mather, Durban, communications partners to the FBF in all print media products.

Pictured here are the Ogilvy wunderkinder who raised the bar in presentation of SA non-profit company reporting, with the 2015-2016 Report to Society of the Field Band Foundation.

The Foundation is profoundly grateful for the professional communications support it receives pro bono from Durban’s Ogilvy & Mather (print media, outdoor branding), Mariannhill Media (website, e-zine, social media, mailing database), VWV brand managers (video), ArtGecko (event design, brand custodianship), Campbell & Campbell (public relations), Investec communications department (electronic FBF member advisories), De Beers public & corporate affairs, WHAM! Media (external message design). These experts form a virtual communications team of the highest calibre. We salute them.

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