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[ Retsepile Pitso is the last of four students selected for an exchange programme with the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden from August 2019 to January 2020. She shares the highlights and some photos of her experience. ]

A prominent public figure once said, “Your feet will never take you where your mind has never been — that is called vision.” I remember vividly, back in 2013, standing in my room (in Lesotho), thinking and believing that one day I will study abroad — the first country will definitely be South Africa, and subsequently I will go overseas. This was just a thought then, but everything in me was in agreement with what my mind had conceived. On 22 August 2019 the thoughts of a 20-year old girl came into manifestation — I was seated at the waiting area on the airport, looking through the window, and there stood an Emirates airbus. At that very moment I was overwhelmed with emotions and the thoughts I had over the past six years. Every single one of them came to my mind; it was as if I was taken on a journey to the moment of truth.

Retsepile Pitso

The Royal Palace in Stockholm.

 

Retsepile Pitso

One of the subway stations in Stockholm.

 

I was privileged to be selected as an exchange student to study for a period of five months at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (KMH), together with my two classmates, Herman Sauerman and Tarina Wilkinson, as well as Anja Vrey who is in the BMus programme. My experience in Stockholm was one that changed the trajectory of my life; a lifetime opportunity that leaves a blueprint on an individual’s journey of purpose and success; a moment that unfolds dreams and visions, bringing them into expression and truth. Being part of the exchange programme in Stockholm brought a tremendous stretch and transformation in my academics for future reference in the music fraternity. It was an expansion of the knowledge I acquired at the North-West University. As an international student who is willing to implement and bring about change in my country, I can confidently merge the methodologies and pedagogies of both institutions for a better mission in future, and for that I am grateful.

Retsepile Pitso

Teaching tools used in a Dalcroze class.

 

Retsepile Pitso

Oscar and I singing in the Eurythmics class.

 

As a musician, there is nothing that beats an experience in one of the biggest music theatres around the world. During my stay in Stockholm I had the chance to see the Swedish Radio Choir performing in one of the largest halls in Stockholm. This took place during the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Berwaldhallen. I sat right behind the choir but in front of the maestro. As a conducting student I was very happy to see the execution of the music from the conductor combined with the composer’s idea from the sheet music. The choir was under the baton of Andrew Manze.

Retsepile Pitso

A teaching methodology class with Eva Wedin.

 

The second visit to this hall was when all the first years attended the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Before the concert commenced, we were briefed on how the concert will start and the works that will be performed, how the orchestra is arranged, and lastly how many people will be performing for that particular concert. I got to meet a few of the veterans of the symphony orchestra who explained their experiences in the orchestra.

Retsepile Pitso

In front of the music school at 3 o’clock in the afternoon (during winter!)

 

Besides our academics and busy student life, we also had exposure to student living at campus lappis, student accommodation for international students studying at various universities. Campus lappis was a place that made me feel at home after a long day at school, an environment where an individual builds a close relationship with the corridor friends in the period of the exchange programme. I enjoyed their company and our Sunday dinner times where we mingled and shared traditional meals from each country that was represented.

Retsepile Pitso

The choir of conducting students in the German church.

 

Retsepile Pitso

My final (and public!) conducting exam.

 

To the North-West University and programme directors of the School of Music: I am grateful to have been trusted with the opportunity to be a representative of the School Music. I extend my gratitude to all the lecturers, family and friends.

Retsepile Pitso

Returning to South Africa after a fantastic exchange experience in Sweden.