Sausage Film Company

“On 26 January I attended the filming of a programme called Music Free-Learning. The performance took place at The Old Fort on Constitution Hill. There were two performances, by His Majesty Malatsi and Mosoeu Ketlele, both storytellers and musicians in the African music tradition,” says Juliet Hofmeyr, who attended two episodes of Sausage Film Company’s Music Free-Learning Season 4 workshop.

“The performances were wonderful. Homemade instruments were played and explained, the emphasis being placed on instruments as accompaniment for voice. Traditional songs and stories were shared and much audience participation was encouraged. No prearranged music was played. We waited to see and hear what would emerge. Wisdom was imparted amidst humour and humility.

“After each performance there was an interview in which educational questions were asked and answered. It was a most enjoyable and enlightening experience.”

Music Free-Learning is an innovative digital education series celebrating the pioneers and legends of South African jazz, preserving and promoting South African music to education, and providing economic stimulus through Sausage Films for musicians, producers, filmmakers and creatives. Sausage Films takes its name from the acronym SOSAJ, “Story of South African jazz,” the book series by Struan Douglas.

Flame Studios, within The Old Fort ramparts at Constitution Hill, is the host studio for Music Free Learning Season 4. It is a shared space designed to amplify the voices of South Africa’s musicians, artists and storytellers, and is deeply involved in developing the music ecosystem of the Braamfontein area, extending into Hillbrow. The studio is helping to transform the formerly foreboding prison space through the power of music and creativity.

“The focus is on developing South African creative talent through accessible recording facilities, workshops, performances and mentorship programmes,” says Lance McCormack, Music Manager at Flame Studios.

Music Free-Learning provides syllabus-based music education, relevant to the grades 10-12 curriculum. It addresses the gaps in music education for learners through participative coursework and free online tutorials. The idea is to promote technical and historical general knowledge of music, as well as business and career know-how.

“Our present education system typically tries to put the music ‘into’ the student. Our mentors look at their students as being inherently creative, and then try to bring that creativity ‘out’ of them,” says Douglas, who co-directs Sausage Films along with Vusi Mchunu.

“Music helps with the emotional and psychological development of South African children. It’s difficult to actually hear music properly when you’ve been beaten up; you can’t still your mind. The mentors we have hired help the kids to focus and still their minds. Once you can hear the music properly, this also helps your mind to become still.

“To do this requires humility; you must learn to take a backseat and observe yourself. The kids these days are into beats, DJ-ing and rapping — they just want to press a button and get instant results. Learning how to play an instrument takes time and humility, and it’s one of the best ways to clear your mind,” says Douglas.

Music education is not just a nice thing to have. It’s becoming a sought-after soft skill, according to Douglas. For example, if you want to get into the diplomatic corps, and you put “trained in music” on your CV, you are more likely to get hired, because you are probably a good listener, you can communicate well, and work with teams.

Sausage Films is currently fund-raising for the forthcoming percussion workshop, which has the vision of presenting master percussion players such as Tlale Makhene and Thomas Dyani in an interactive workshop.

For more information, or to donate, visit: