Music programme shields kids from crime

Instruments donated to Join Bands, Not Gangs go to musical mentors working in crime-ravaged areas.

Non-profit organisation Join Bands, Not Gangs helps communities to give free music lessons and shield youngsters from crime in Scottsdene.

Composer and musician Karien de Waal, of Durbanville, founded Join Bands, Not Gangs in 2018, and veteran music aficionado Tommy Jooste, 69, runs the show. The instruments donated to the organisation go to musical mentors working in crime-ravaged areas.

Sixteen teenagers perform for one hour every day of the week after school under Mr Jooste’s instruction.

“Music gives me a different vision and mind set,” says Marchiano de Klerk, 13, who enjoys playing the guitar.

Mr Jooste says: “The way I see it is if I can change only one child’s life, that’s alright for me.

“I grew up with a music mind. I’ve been involved in music for more than 50 years.”

He started teaching pupils music at Scottsdene High School two years ago.

“I’m very grateful that I can work with these kids. I’ve just written a song for them to perform,” he says.

In his home, he keeps bass guitars, pianos and drums, which he lets the youngsters use. He beams as he speaks of the support he and the children have received from the community.

“I’ve noticed a major difference in these kids ever since they joined us last year. They no longer stand by the corner,” he says, pointing at a notorious gangland spot nearby.

“Many wrong things have happened there, but now that’s not the case because they’ve got music. When they come back from school, they know they must come and we must go practise.”

Ms De Waal says that by getting the youngsters into musical programmes, they’re keeping them busy.

“There is a very real possibility that kids who are not kept busy can be drawn into gangsterism.”

The organisation currently works with children in Kraaifontein and George on the Garden Route and is looking to build partnerships in these communities to create more musical programmes, says Ms De Waal.