By Jiba Xulu
Celebrating over 25 years in the music industry, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra trombonist Dutchman Raymond Munnecom (49) joins the 2017 South African National Youth Orchestra at Parktown Boys High School as the brass section tutor.
Munnecom talks about his ‘Cooking-pot’ teaching philosophy. It is about giving solutions, not criticism, he says.
“If it works, great; if it doesn’t, we move on. I like giving them creative options.”
Munnecom always reminds his students that they should take nothing for granted.
“My main goal is to instil complete musicianship. That includes effectively contributing and listening to fellow sections. Ultimately that adds to the colour, and to a holistic sound where everything comes together.”
Munnecom uses South African songs as part of his warm-up sessions; sometimes he also lets them sing their orchestral parts with invented works.
“I want them to be active musicians and develop initiative. This adds to the creativity and makes a safe working environment.
“They understand their responsibility for the quality. You can see that these kids are really hungry, which makes this work beyond success.”
Munnecom speaks of the importance of focus as a philosophical part of his teaching method.
“Sometimes having an audition can create a block or frustrate you. You become too nervous – Why is that? It has a lot to do with preparation. When you learn things by heart, your self-confidence grows. If you’re able to transpose, your ability and your brain capacity just improve. If you really practice slow, which is the kind of mother of education, and you do that smart, it pays off as well.
“I make this soup. I try to make a healthy soup, with a lot of ingredients, so I can also vary when things for certain people don’t work. I stay flexible.”
Munnecom fervently hopes that this will not be his last visit to South Africa.
“I have built human relationships with SANYO and its management and constituencies; it has been an amazing journey.”
He worries about the future of the music industry in South Africa, noting its vulnerability to the detriment of the sustainability of programmes like the SANYO camp and experience.
However, he adds: “Despite financial, cultural, and social tensions, I believe that there is a way forward, especially since there is a high level of determination and motivation from these kids. This is what makes me tick, what I want to do, and why I am happy to help where I can.”