FOR the last three years, choir conductor Nyameka Vara’s pupils at Imbasa Primary in Motherwell have achieved top honours at provincial and national level.
Her efforts were rewarded when she received a prestigious award at the Eastern Cape Choral Music Awards last month.
According to Masimdumise Majiza of Lunika Productions, who organised the event at the East London city hall, the conductor was acknowledged for her contribution to choral music at primary school level.
Nominations for the various awards, which included high school and tertiary categories, were made by several associations including the South African Schools’ Choral Eisteddfod (SASCE) and the South African Tertiary Institution Choral Association (Satica).
Vara, who has been teaching music at Imbasa since 1997, is in charge of two choirs – the mixed-double quartet consisting of four boys and four girls, and a bigger 60-member mixed senior choir. The choirs sing English, Afrikaans and Xhosa songs.
The senior choir came first at the provincial and national SASCE competitions in 2009 and 2010 and were placed third this year.
The mixed-double quartet took top honours at provincial and national level for the past three years.
The eight-member choir had to make it through three local elimination rounds – zonal, district and mega – to reach the provincial and finally the national competition in Pretoria during the July school holidays.
“It was not easy and the children had to work very hard,” said Vara.
She said she is proud of her achievements and also proud of her choirs, whose members are extremely dedicated to their music.
“They have a passion for music and I enjoy teaching them. My love for teaching is greater than my love for music.”
The songstress said she cannot survive without her students and misses them during the holidays.
She has watched them grow musically from a young age and is motivated by their eagerness to learn, and keeps in contact with her students once they go to high school.
“They love music and they sing their hearts out. In this area unemployment, alcoholism and crime are rife. Many of these children come to school with empty stomachs and some are orphans. A lot of them have problems, but when they are singing they have this happiness and forget about their problems.”
Vara’s star soprano Nomakhosi Ntliziyo, 13, started singing in the choir in Grade 4. She says it is her passion.
“I love to sing. When you sing, all of your feelings come out and you can relax.”
Nomakhosi, who is also a keen athlete, is proud of her music teacher’s achievement. She even made her a card wishing her good luck.
“I was excited and very happy when she was nominated,” said Nomakhosi.
Vara said the choir members come from different backgrounds, but when they are together as a group they are all equals.
The children practise two hours a day, Monday to Saturday, and sometimes during the holidays.
She said her students are very responsible and will be in the classroom practising before she gets there.
“Their discipline has improved at home as well as at school. The parents are grateful that their children are in the choir. It gives them something to do and keeps them out of trouble.
“I want to thank the principal, my colleagues, the music committee and especially the parents. Without parents, the children would not be here,” said Vara.