Why Music?

Music is a wonderful medium that has the ability to express the longings of the heart without having to utter a single word. It inspires creativity and imagination. Could you imagine a world without it?

Did you know, that even in utero, babies enjoy and respond to music.  It is a powerful brain builder… and for the first seven years of a child’s life, highly critical for brain development.

As a Kindermusik therapist, I have the privilege of working with children from birth to age seven. Developed in Germany and the USA, Kindermusik is rated the top music and movement programme in the world, developing the social, emotional and cognitive needs of children aged 0 – 7 through the powerful medium of music and movement. The development we see in them week on week is astounding. We have discovered over the years, that instruments help young toddlers develop their smaller muscles, better understand the concept of cause and effect, experiment with new sounds and rhythms, and experience steady beat.  When your child plays an instrument or listens to a catchy tune, his or her brain is constantly being challenged to process and make sense of the tune and rhythm.

The German Socio-Economic Panel published their research in 2013 stating that music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theatre or dance.  I love to think of music being a parent’s Secret SuperPower!  From geometry, to patterns and numbers, playing music produces stronger mathematic skills in our children.

WHY MUSIC? Roy Ayers puts it so beautifully when he says that the true beauty of music is that it connects people! It connects families! During the younger years, take the time to sing together as a family… turn the radio down and sing Old Macdonald as you drive down the highway! Whether you sing in tune or not, it really doesn’t matter, what is important is fostering that precious connection.

Des Govender

Destiny Music Academy

Head of Voice & Certified Kindermusik Therapist

082 877 7369

Unleashing creativity in our children

We live at a time where creative, original thinking is dangerously low. And yet we need exactly this thinking to solve our individual, community, organisational and global challenges and create a sustainable future.” – Tania de Jong (award-winning social entrepreneur)

Based on this insight, one could argue that creativity needs to be nurtured and encouraged in young children in order for them to become the ‘thought pioneers’ of tomorrow. Creative thinkers of the future may be the solution to many of the problems we face in our world today.

Every child has the potential to be creative and therefore the school curriculum needs to provide opportunities to enhance creativity. Schools need to encourage experimentation. Children need to be brave and take risks. Children need to understand that it is okay to fail, as it opens the window to opportunity.  In the lower grades, we need to focus more on process and less on results.

How do we achieve this?

Children need time and space to explore their creative talent. The school curriculum should embrace this exploration, allowing for a “Creative Space” for learning. Baking, science experiments, box construction and problem solving exercises are some of the activities that happen in these creative spaces.

However, this exciting journey of imagination, originality and resourcefulness can and should begin at home and are vital elements of a child’s educational journey. We, as parents and educators need to make time to explore creative activities with our children.

The Result?

Creative children – who are flexible, adapt more easily to change and have the ability to turn challenges into opportunities.  I am sure you will agree that we want this for our children, so that they become the best version of themselves and thereby make a difference in our world?

Carol-Anne Conradie – Head of Junior Primary at

Durban Girls’ College

Music - Nectar for the soul

Encourage your child to learn to play a musical instrument 

abies respond to music, loving it when parents talk to them in musical speech. A study done with two groups of 6 month old babies had the Active Group involved in lots of singing, banging of instruments, and learning songs and a Passive Group which had to listen to Baby Einstein CDs while playing with toys.

Researchers found that the Active Group outpaced the Passive Group socially in virtually every way. They smiled more, laughed more and were easier to calm down when stressed. Infant gestures such as waving and pointing improved. Essentially the infants were more empathetic and relational with parents.

Research shows music training benefits in so many parts of our lives. Musicians are better listeners, better in sound differentiation and speech. Better able to distinguish and pay attention to specific sounds in locations with other noises.

Music training seems to boost writing and word recognition improving language processes. Children practicing a musical instrument for at least three years see higher levels of vocabulary and reasoning skills. Children starting music lessons before 7, tend to have superior sensory-motor integration when they are adults. Musical training seems to provide direct improvements in working memory.

A study from Boston Children’s Hospital reports that musical training may promote the development and maintenance of important mental skills. These functions allow for planned, controlled behavior, enabling us to manage our time and attention, organize our thoughts, and regulate our behavior, essential to success in school, as well as later in life.


By Donovan Rasch, Director of Musician’s Gear Zone, WWW.MUSICIANSGEARZONE.CO.ZA

Sources: Brain Rules by John Medina, New Evidence of Mental Benefits from Music Training by Tom Jacobs

How wonderful! Nothing can be more beneficial to the holistic development of a child than an involvement in the Arts.

It doesn’t matter whether it is Ballet or Ballroom, Spanish or Hip Hop, Contemporary or Capoeira, Tap or Irish – the intense and dedicated study of dance develops so much more than poise, grace, fitness, musicality, co-ordination and strength.

Socialization, self- assessment, memory training, humility and perseverance are all integral aspects of dance.


In the words of Dr Eduard Greyling – Ex-professional dancer, Laban Notator and

Patron of the Cecchetti Society of SA:

“Dance training, whether for the purpose of preparing the professional or for the sheer joy of organized movement, has an unprecedented place in our society.

Stimulated by music, dance is a language whose words are movements of the body in time and space”


Dance can be categorised as “social”, “recreational” or “vocational”.

In my experience, anyone aspiring to take their dance training to a vocational level should have ballet as the basis on which all the other genres are built, and versatility is the name of the game.

The question often arises – which method should I study?

All methods lay the basic foundation and have their individual values – the differences are merely style. I have been extremely fortunate to have been involved in dance for most of my life, and can highly recommend it as a vocation or as a hobby.

There are several societies, with branches in KZN, whose members are qualified teachers, offering tuition in the many different dance genres. Contact them to find a teacher near you.

                                                                             Minette de Klerk (Minette De Klerk Dance Academy)


Royal Academy of Dance: (Ballet) Jenny Walter Girout (Secretary) 031-5641498

Cecchetti Society of KZN: Hannah Brophy Bosch (Secretary) 072 519 3960

A.I.D.T.A. Modern and Tap: Di Drake (Chairlady) 084 514 7989   ddrake@ledom.co.za

I.S.T.D. Modern, Tap, Ballet, National: Michelle Clark 072 483 6222   mcclark.dance@gmail.com

Spanish Dance Society: (Flamenco, Regional and Classic) Penny Lundell 076 680 0890 plundall@cdsp.co.za

T.D. A. (Modern Tap Hip Hop and Ballet: Fiona Barnes fmbarnes@worldonline.co.za

S.A.D.T.A. (Latin Ballroom and Line Dance): Janelle Yuni 084 474 0531 janelle@dancebasics.co.za

S.A.D.T.A. (Belly Dance): Senta Duffield 082 829 3658   senta@mayadance.co.za

S.A.S.A.D. (Various Dance Genres): Cathy Barry 031 5641498   sasaadinfo@gmail.com


The greatest gifts parents can give their children are a loving, supportive home environment; a well-rounded, challenging education; and opportunities to exercise independence and self-reliance. Love is a major factor in encouraging and teaching a child independence from a young age – and independence is the key to a well-balanced, confident, and happy young school child!

Independence is being able to:

  • Manage oneself in a variety of situations
  • Approach and tackle different tasks with determination, focus and perseverance
  • Believe that you can be successful
  • Be confident; it’s closely related to self-worth and understanding one’s innate ability

How to encourage your child to be confident and independent:

  • Don’t do everything for him: Allow a child to perform appropriate tasks by him/herself. Although time-consuming – the feelings of pride and mastery build self-worth.
  • Routine household tasks: Give children responsibility for daily, age-appropriate household tasks, like: clearing the table; feeding pets; putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket; loading the dishwasher, etc. Show appreciation!
  • A child needs to experience both success and failure – it builds character: Parents should lead by example in dealing with such situations in family life. Your child will observe your example of, ‘Try, try, and try again’ from a young age. It is a vital example on how to master a skill; to persevere – and to realise that to make a mistake is okay as it can usually be fixed, despite one sometimes having to start all over again. They will realise that although many tasks or experiences may be challenging – most can be overcome with perseverance and determination.
  • Reward System: To encourage and motivate your child to try harder, a reward system can be helpful. However, it is not recommended for everyday helpfulness like being loving towards family members, pets, etc. – when a compliment or hug will suffice.
  • Do not over-protect your child!  It can be as damaging to a child’s development as neglect! Doing so may cause a child to find the real world very challenging. Too much sympathy or attention indulges a child’s need to be pampered – and hampers him from becoming independent. Parents must accept that their child is growing up.
  • Do not ‘baby’ a child who may appear to be ‘too small.’ Most are very capable – with only their potential to be developed. Allow them to pack and remember their own PE kit. Do not always run to the school with it for fear they will get into trouble. Sometimes this is a valuable lesson to learn for next time.
  • Instant gratification: Children should learn from a young age that one cannot immediately have everything one wants! Things that are worked for and waited for are more valued. Practise with them at home that, ‘Patience is a virtue!’
  • Initiative and creative thinking: Both are developed in children if we encourage and motivate them to be independent. This stimulates imaginative problem-solving and lateral thinking – all aspects of life-long, intellectual development.

Contributed by:

Barbara Daniel, Principal

St Martin’s Pre-Primary School

Melanie Wilson, artist and art teacher challenges us to look at the subject of art in a different way.

No other subject builds courage and resilience like Visual Arts. Art also prepares learners for industry like no other subject. It teaches discipline, responsibility and supplements prioritising.  Any form of creative process teaches children that taking the short-cut is not a good option.

Art-making in the primary phase teaches

  • resourcefulness
  • decision making
  • time management
  • accountability
  • improvisation
  • self motivation
  • perseverance
  • a moral perspective
  • a positive concious state
  • develops a strong core
  • promotes self awareness
  • encourages the highest form of learning ie. alternative problem solving skills and critical thinking.

If art education and creative occupation sharpens the mind, stretches the brain and ultimately makes such a difference, why does it remain a ‘cork in the ocean’?   It has been acknowledged as one of the greatest drivers in human development. We measure intelligence through creativity….why then, in this day and age is Visual Art still stigmatised and overlooked in our schools?

Did you know? – The ancient meaning of the word ‘Art’ was affiliated with ancient ‘Science’.  ‘Science’ in Latin means “CUT” and ‘Art’ in Latin means “JOIN”…so basically Art revolves around design… anything to do with sustaining life (from cars to appliances to gadgets).  Consider the impact that this subject has on industry, architecture, brand development, marketing, advertising, film making, research – basically everything that defines human progress and development.

Did you know? – Each time your child engages with a form of art-making, his/her brain explodes with activity…working furiously.  During a creative lesson the brain has to process new instructions,  new information – navigating and exploring new processes that forces mental activity to increase.  So, brain activity ‘spikes’ and because your child is generally exposed to the ‘unfamiliar’ during Art ( ie always on guard, looking for new solutions) – the subject literally ‘stretches the brain’…constantly challenging your child to critically analyse information.  Most ‘normal’ subjects encourage “routine” – but left to its own own device, the brain will try make almost any routine into a habit…not ideal as habits generally allow our minds to “ramp down”.

INSPIRATION is a natural building block in child development.  Researchers and scientists believe that creativity is genetic and this is where the issue of ‘talent’ occurs.  Talent is the innate power to discover the hidden connection between three things, ie images, ideas, words, that nobody has ever seen before.  If you link them you end up creating an utterly unique work for the world.

So what is my point?  I believe that constructive art education encourages high achievement and builds skills that industry values. The creative classroom teaches children to work collaboratively. We need to thank our Art teachers who are ultimately responsible for nurturing talent and driving creative development in our classrooms.


Melanie Wilson – Teacher/Artist


E: melanie.wilson@reddam.house

E: drawntowalls@gmail.com

Today, more and more emphasis is being place on the creative side of a child’s development. Colleen Tatz shares her years of experience in the field of drama, focusing on the development of essential life-skills.

Many children struggle with a poor self-esteem.  This can lead to an inability to express themselves clearly.  They may speak indistinctly, answer in incomplete sentences and maintain poor eye contact during conversations or discussions.

A good drama school will provide children with a comprehensive programme designed to increase confidence, self-esteem, communication skills and creative talents.  Through carefully constructed, progressive, drama activities, in a fun-filled environment, young people are able to develop clear, articulate speech, a fluent delivery and the ability to converse and discuss in a creative manner.  These skills will equip children to face the challenges of our complex world with confidence, especially in the area of communication.

Activities include the following:

  • Speech:  Speech development focuses on projection, articulation and expression to ensure effective communication.
  • Movement:  Exploring the body through characterization, gestures and movement skills.  Mime to movement encourages students to tell a story using only their bodies.
  • Creative Improvisation:  An important dramatic aspect of a drama curriculum; students perform whole class improvisations and scenes, dialogues and monologues.
  • Presentations and Productions: These are vital as students learn to use their skills in front of an audience.

The aim is to tap into the child’s natural interests and channel these to develop confident children who will readily cope with the expectations of their expanding world.

Colleen Tatz – Drama Specialist
C: 082 784 6115    

Parents, when you think back and remember the highlights of your school days, chances are that your annual school tour or camp excursion is top of that list!  The excitement of going on tour; no Mom or Dad in sight; re-enacting the multiple escapades with family and friends at weekend braai’s – is just pure adrenalin and excitement revisited!  Wally Pelser from The Ventures Group, shares some insights into the intrinsic value of these experiences.

Going on tour is an essential part of every child’s educational development process. Interestingly, in the age where formal education is leaning more towards a neuro-science and holistic learning experience, which allows students to develop at their own pace and learn from their experiences – this has been done for decades in the Outdoor Adventure Education and Leadership Development Industry!

Schools work hand in hand with reputable and experienced providers to design outdoor programmes and excursions that are carefully tailored to be age appropriate on both an intellectual level and according to the abilities and specific limitations of the participants. Ensuring the utmost safety and achievable challenges, activities are tools used to convey   important lessons that are remembered and embraced.

On camp, students build relationships, learn to excel or fail at activities or tasks and learn from others in what may be previously unknown territory.  Their self-esteem grows, which boosts their confidence and ability to take on challenges, while achieving the impossible in a new environment that has endless healthy benefits!  Everyone excels at their own pace and the outdoors is a great classroom with no limitations.  The promotion and development of strong leadership skills, teamwork, emotional intelligence, communication skills and adventure are an essential part of these camps.

Sadly, for many parents the cost in today’s economy and the perception of safety or abilities of our children restricts participation.  Parents are encouraged to take a leap of faith, overcome that restrictive web of fear and trust their school’s ability to engage with professionals and reputable venues that will ensure an experience that is life changing, creating new horizons for our future leaders.

It is recommended that schools and parents engage in a thorough screening of their providers and specific course content for each age group, to ensure that the most is achieved from each experience whether it is at another venue or on the school premises.

Excursions should be held at accredited venues with valid and appropriate qualifications of providers, statutory regulations in place, risk assessments and approved equipment with proper and relevant activity insurance, allowing for peace of mind and an unforgettable experience that cannot be measured in rand value.

South Africa has so much to offer in terms of natural beauty and a wide variety of experiences at stunning venues that are still very affordable and accessible.

We look forward to seeing you out there soon!

The Ventures Group
C: 083 264 5285
W: www.tvg.co.za