From a novice to a talented pianist

Posted on March 09, 2010

As part of his audition to determine his capability to study music as a subject, Muzi was asked to play a “high” note on the piano and he took a chance and punched a key farthest to the right and hoped for the best. The only thing he could think of was his radio and he remembered that to turn up the volume, one has to turn the dial to the right. His theory worked for him as he hit the right note!

Although they were not sure about his suitability coupled with the fact that he could not read music, Drs Rieke van Aswegen and Dorette Vermeulen, both lecturers in the Music Division of the Department of Education, decided to take a chance and accepted Muzi to study music. To help him develop his talent, Mr Ferdie Geyer, a music lecturer at the Faculty of Education, gave him individual lessons and he focussed mainly on technical aspects of playing piano, sight reading and different styles of piano playing.

“He was quick on the uptake and extremely good at memorising pieces’, said Mr Geyer.

At the end of 2009, Muzi took to the stage at the end of year concert of the music students where he played a prelude composed by Chopin, as well as Jazz improvisations composed by Lou Stein.

Muzi is currently working on a composition by Bach, and he dreams of becoming either a music teacher or a jazz musician – or maybe both. When asked how he achieved this and reached this excellent level of musical ability, he said that without the unwavering support of his lecturers and their faith in him, sheer determination and will power, he would not have made it. He also mentioned practice as another secret for his achievement. “It’s about practicing. Yes it is difficult for an adult to learn the piano, especially if one has not been exposed to it before, but with regular and constant practice with a combination of commitment and dedication one can”

Muzi grew up in Orange Farm, an informal settlement south of Johannesburg where he was raised by his grandmother, Ms Patricia Shange. He currently lives at a student residence of the University of Pretoria. Although he is studying on a bursary for his degree, it does not cover piano lessons. He needs R 800 per month to pay his four individual lessons per month.

A senior lecturer in the Music Division of the Department of Humanities Education, Dr van Aswegen said that it is not often that such talent is discovered. She added that it is extremely challenging for an adult to play the piano, and that makes Muzi even more special.

“Although Muzi is still at a developing stage, the progress he has made is really amazing. He still has a long way to go and it is important that he continue and maybe one day he might be sharing his talent with the community”, said Dr van Aswegen.

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