The Field Band Foundation model is based on the provision of a set of instruments into an identified community along with a local band management team of a Project Officer and five young community tutors who are responsible for training band members in music and dance.
Each project (one set of instruments) services at least two different communities in each area, with two rehearsals a week that take place as after school activities. The bands are situated in townships and/or in rural areas where cultural and after school infrastructure is deficient and where young people are most at risk of picking up negative social and life habits. Currently, there are over 21 projects in 7 out of 9 provinces in South Africa.
Band members work together with their leaders to develop performances using well-known Afro-jazz melodies in easy-to-play arrangements. The emphasis is on members being able to participate in music and dance as quickly as possible, so that they experience themselves as being able to accomplish something they never thought they could. Learning is done primarily by ear and music theory comes later. As quickly as possible, the band gets to perform – street parades, community events and national holidays. Self-esteem is built and different messages projected about themselves and their community.
Under the leadership of the Project Officer, tutors plan rehearsals, arrange music , learn about managing their sections, work, teach and perform together. They are central to providing an enjoyable and empowering experience for everyone, which is educational in multiple ways. It is what musicologists call “musicking” – music making within a determinedly social network that generates supportive networks and creates joy for themselves and their communities.
Tutors usually come up through the ranks as band members and are identified by their willingness to take on extra responsibilities in the band, and then to undertake a preparatory training course called Tutor in Training. Supplemented with a manual carefully written to offer the start of a basic music education, this course also stresses the values of the Foundation that must inform all behaviour of these young would-be leaders.