Local pianist aims higher

A grade 12 learner from Walvis Bay was invited to participate in a South African music competition.

15 October 2018 | People

Leandrea Louw

Karl Philander (18), a learner at De Duine Secondary School, was invited to participate in the University of South Africa (Unisa) South African Music Scholarship Competition.

The competition is set to take place 12 October, in Pretoria.

Unfortunately Philander won’t be able to attend the competition since he is still busy with his final exams. Philander received a 87% grade in his grade 8 practical piano examination, securing him a place in the competition.

“I was overwhelmed when I received the invitation, yet sad that I won’t be able to attend the competition. However, it is truly an honour to have been selected to participate in this prestigious competition.”

He furthermore explained that he started playing the piano at the age of eight.

“My grandfather told me to get ready on that day. I was totally clueless. We drove off and stopped at Duneside High School. I entered the classroom of Ms Wilna Liebenberg and I saw a piano in her classroom. I was very excited, because I was knew that now I’ll be able to play piano like all of my uncles in the Cookson family. Throughout my practice sessions I realised the piano is a difficult instrument to master. I continued playing under the watchful eye of Ms Liebenberg and later on started classes with Ms Vera Malherbe who is now my piano teacher.

“My practice schedule lasts from three to four hours a day, because you need to practice your technical work first, then you practice your three prescribed pieces. In my opinion, the technical work is more difficult than playing pieces, because it takes quite a while to master. It gets more difficult as you progress to higher grades.”

Philander explained that the most difficult part of his piano grade 8 year was scheduling time for practicing.

“I had to juggle between school, music and my other recreational activities. Squeezing everything into 24 hours was at a time impossible. Everything needs the equal amount of attention. Other than being a pianist, I am also a singer in the Mascato Youth Choir, as well as the accompanist, which I truly enjoy. We have the most amazing and talented choir conductor, Theodore Cookson. I will forever be grateful for how much these amazing teachers have taught me.

“I dedicated my Grade 8 year to my late grandfather, Henry Cookson, as it was his desire for me to reach Grade 8. He always reminded me to remain humble and that practice makes perfect.”

He thanked his piano teacher, Ms Malherbe, and his parents.

“Ms Vera Malherbe has a heart of gold. You could write a book about how amazing she is, yet the word amazing is still an understatement - all her students would agree. No matter how far the stretch is, she takes the extra mile and she knows just how to bring out the best of you. To her, her students' talent comes first. I also want to say thank you to my father for his support and investment in my music. I could not ask for better parents.”

The various scholarship prizes up for grabs include: The Unisa South African Music Scholarships valued at N$16 600, the Robert Clough Music Scholarship valued at N$8 000 and a Samro/Vladimir Viardo Piano Scholarship valued at N$13 000 for the best pianist under the age of 20. In addition to that there is also the Samro Prize valued at N$13 000 for the best performance of a South African composition, two Du Toit-van Tonder Music Scholarships valued at N$9 000 each, Samro/Unisa/Deon van der Walt Vocal Scholarship valued at N$4 000 for the best Grade 8 singing candidate, Johanna van der Spuy prize valued at N$3 000 for the best rendering of a romantic work, and the Mimi Coertse Prize valued at N$2 000 for the best rendering of a South African Art song.

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