Music’s a piece of cake for talented youngsters

Corban Beukes, 9, nagged his mother into submission for violin lessons when he was five years old.

Milua Cloete, of Kuils River, decided to play the violin because all the other musicians in her family played the piano.

The violin is the more challenging instrument, says the eight-year-old. “I play the piano when I’m bored,” she says. “It’s not challenging enough.”

Milua has been playing the violin for four years, and this is the second time she has entered the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) Hubert van der Spuy National Music Competition, which will take place at the Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre, in Parow, from Monday September 25 to Friday September 29.

The competition, first held in 1989, is organised by the Tygerberg branch of the South African Society of Music Teachers (SASMT).

Last year Milua made it to the third round. Her mom, Lizahn, says her daughter is better prepared now that she knows what to expect.

“We will make sure that she rests enough in between,” Lizahn says, explaining that the pace of the competition can be very exhausting. Milua, a Grade 2 pupil at De Kuilen Primary School, practises the violin about half an hour a day.

Some of the pieces she will be playing in the competition include the Witches’ Dance and Chiarda and a new piece by a South African composer.

“I’m struggling a bit with the new piece,” Milua says, “but the rest are quite easy.”

Corban Beukes, of Protea Heights, nagged his mother for violin lessons until she eventually relented. The nine-year-old has been playing the violin for five years and has entered the competition for the first time this year.

“Ek het gesê, ‘Mamma, ek wil viool speel.’ Toe het mamma gesê, ‘Mm.’ Toe vra ek weer, ‘Mamma, ek wil viool speel.’ Toe het mamma gesê, ‘Mm.’ Ek het weer gesê, ‘Mamma, ek wil viool speel.’ Toe het mamma gesê, ‘Okay’.”

His mom, Jacomien, sent him for music lessons with a private teacher who trained him to play using the Suzuki method, which focuses on technique. “I’m a huge fan of the Suzuki method,” Jacomien says, referring to the teaching technique developed by Japanese violinist and pedagogue Shinichi Suzuki.

Corban first learned to play a variety of pieces from memory before he was taught to read music.

But Corban progressed so rapidly that his teacher recommended that he be enrolled in a music school as she could not give him lessons as frequently as he wanted. At the beginning of the year, he enrolled at Hugo Lambrechts. The enthusiastic musician practises for nearly an hour a day, except on weekends when mom insists that music is only for fun.

When asked if music was a family interest, Corban jokes: “Music is in our family but it is humming.”

Joshua Bogenhagen of Cape Gate is a talented oboist. The 12-year-old has been learning the oboe for four years at Hugo Lambrechts. This year he started learning the piano as well.

Joshua, who is in Grade 7 at Eikendal Primary School, has entered the Samro competition twice before, doing better and better each year, and finishing in the second-last round last year.

“Music is more of a hobby for me,” says the aspiring scientist.

Despite this, he has never achieved a grade below 80% for his music. In fact, in 2016 he did so well in his exams that he skipped Grade 3. He achieved a cum laude distinction in Grade 2 and was put straight into Grade 4.

Joshua spends nearly two hours a day practising his hobby and “just an hour” on weekends. He says it was “very scary” entering the competition for the first time.

“The next year it was better, but, wow, this year it is a very big competition, but now I’m more comfortable.”