[ Thulani Mahloko was one of three students selected for an exchange programme with the Royal College of Music in Stockholm from August 2017 to January 2018. This is the 2nd and final part of his story (lightly edited for clarity and flow). ]
Voice and percussion lessons
The voice lessons were so amazing, particularly the approach to how they were conducted. The ability to have master classes so many times per semester was a privilege which I really appreciated. Having such great lecturers that you can ask for help at any time was one of the highlights in my voice class. The way in which I was able to even further understand what I was learning from the Eurhythmics and Dalcroze classes in a voice lesson was great. I particularly loved that I had the experience of more than one lesson per class. I feel as though my voice has grown from what it was in South Africa and I will use the advice handed down to me to keep my voice great. It is also great how lecturers taught us exactly the same things we were being taught back at home, thus being able to go home and say to our lecturers, “I should have listened to you” (ha-ha). It was even better that I had already met the lecturer back in South Africa when he came here to teach, thus I was a bit more relaxed and comfortable with him. The way in which he made the music come alive motivated me to learn and perform my music.
To be able to have a recital at KMH is something I did not think would happen, and having the support of the many friends I made at the school and in Stockholm was even more encouraging. I never thought the dream of singing abroad as such a young man would happen, and it was so amazing. The room had wonderful acoustics and a beautiful view which made it even more special because it helped with the scenery and the feeling of the music and got me to make the sound I intended on making and I was happy about it.
Being a self-taught percussionist is very difficult. Having the privilege of percussion lessons was almost like a dream come true. The first time I walked into the percussion room I almost couldn’t believe it. Both the spectacle of being in a room made particularly for percussion, and also the range of percussion instruments made me almost feel like I’m in a dream. It was very stressful and nerve-racking walking into my first percussion lesson not knowing what to expect, but explaining to the lecturer about my background and hearing his approach was very calming and welcoming. He was the most patient lecturer I’d come across. He taught me as a peer and not condescending and judging my age, but as a normal student that came to learn, and I appreciated that.
Being able to also play my first ever percussion concerto in Stockholm is something I’d never even thought or dreamt about, but I couldn’t be happier that I played my debut percussion concerto abroad and I am grateful for the opportunity.
The exams were fun to take part in. I didn’t think of them as anything more than enjoying what I am doing, even thought there was some brain work needed. This made it easier to understand everything. Knowing and understanding this made me feel as though I worked as much as possible to my fullest ability.
Folk music week
Folk music week was a great week. I had a vague idea of Swedish folk music, but it was very much contrary to the real thing. I learnt so many aspects about the music and its traditions and origins. It was honestly one of the great things about Sweden I am taking home with me to teach to those who would love to learn. There are many folk songs such as Kom lunkom and Nu reser jag min väg which I intend to teach back home. They now hold great significance in my life and my musical repertoire. I have always had a great interest in learning more about Swedish folk music from the time I heard Vem kan segla, compliments of Eva Wedin and Thapelo Molise.
Even though the Swedes are reserved people, I’d come to learn that they are very loving people. I made friends with some of the best people, people that I know will one day wave the flag of Sweden high amongst nations. I also got the chance to meet some wonderful internationals from all around Europe, Africa and America. It was interesting and fun being in the company of so many nations. I have learnt how to make people be comfortable in their own space in a different country and I have learnt to be comfortable around people of different nations in a different country. It’s great how they have impacted me and I am happy many of them want to visit South Africa. I hope that someday it will happen that I get to visit them and they visit me.
It was wonderful to make amazing friends from Sweden such as the first year teacher training class which accepted us without doubt and hesitance and with a warm heart and made it so easy for us. A special thank you to Manuel Farenza who helped me through so much, be it getting my hair done, to going to KFC. Another special thank you to Lisa Stenfelt who made it a point that I know about her own performances and other performances taking place in many jazz venues around the city.
I thank God for this opportunity to visit KMH and study there for a semester. This is one of the best things to ever happen to me in my career as an aspiring musician and music teacher. Thank you to all the wonderful lecturers who gave their time to teach me and make sure that this exchange is a success, particularly Eva Wedin, Joakim Anterot, Bo Rusenkull and Ing-Marie Lindberg-Thӧrnberg. Their teachings will forever be remembered and their dedication to teaching me will forever remain in my heart.
[ Return to Part 1 of Thulani’s story ]