Help Elliot to volunteer in South Africa!

by Elliot Tingley in Pontefract, England, United Kingdom

Help Elliot to volunteer in South Africa!

Total raised £1,409

£4,035 target 36 days left
34% 20 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 31st July 2024 at 11:24am

Help Elliot raise funds to be able to voluntarily teach in an incredible country with an incredible charity!

by Elliot Tingley in Pontefract, England, United Kingdom

I am a cellist just about to graduate with a BMus Honours degree from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC). This page is all about my super exciting post-graduation plans! Over the next few months I am going to be fundraising, undertaking teacher training, language classes and learning how to repair and restore violins, violas, cellos and double basses, readying myself to move to a little town in the Karoo called Prince Albert in South Africa in January 2025. My initial plans are to live there for a year, setting up and teaching for the non-profit organisation the ARCO Project. A little more about ARCO later.
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My own story with South Africa is a personal one. About 3 years before I began my undergraduate studies at RBC I used to attend the Pro Corda North chamber music course in Yorkshire during the summer. It was on this course that I met a gifted cellist and incredible man from the ARCO Project in Soweto called Kamogelo Maraba. My dear friend Kamo also currently studies at RBC in the same year as me and we have lived together in Birmingham for the duration of our studies. It would have been impossible for Kamo to attend summer courses in the UK, fund his studies at RBC or acquire a wonderful instrument without the constant support both financially and otherwise from the ARCO Project. It was at RBC where he, and the founder Louise Lansdown (then Head of Strings at RBC), first told me about ARCO in detail, what it offered and how much it supported talented children in South Africa who did not have the means to pursue their musical aspirations. As someone from a disadvantaged background myself, I know and understand the difficulties that children and young people can face even just trying to start learning music, let alone continuing learning to an advanced level. Because I understand this journey and struggle so intimately I want more than anything to support others who will benefit from my expertise and knowledge. It is for all of these reasons that I decided to become involved with the ARCO Project and am moving to South Africa. 

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Just a little about ARCO…The ARCO Project was founded in 2015 in Soweto, South Africa, by Louise Lansdown, as a cross-continental online string teaching project between the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire of Music (RBC) and the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music in Soweto. Louise Lansdown was at the time Head of Strings at RBC and was assisted by staff and students from the Strings department in ARCO's formation. It is now based at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester, where Louise is Assistant Head of Strings. Due to the Project's immense success in Soweto, ARCO India was formalised in 2021, with RBC collaborating with the A.R Rahman Foundation and the Sunshine Orchestra based in Chennai. The raison d’etre of the ARCO project is two-fold; firstly, to provide children and young adults in previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa and India with the opportunity to receive instrumental and general musical training; and secondly as a teacher training programme for undergraduate and postgraduate students at the RNCM.

The newest and third ARCO Project is the one currently being created in Prince Albert, South Africa and this is where I will be based teaching kindergarten and primary school children violin, viola, cello and double bass. Group instrumental lessons with the kindergarten children will take place every morning from Monday to Thursday, and in the afternoons I will be teaching primary school children at the PACT Centre (Prince Albert Community Trust). Fridays will be devoted to orchestral training! I will also be acting as the “man on the ground” communicating with parents, students and tutors in Prince Albert and staff and students at the RNCM.


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My main ambition for this venture though is to help bring quality teaching and enthusiastic support to children from similar backgrounds to me, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to be exposed  to instrumental and general musical training except through organisations such as ARCO and PACT. 

I have decided not to put a fixed time frame on my work in Prince Albert beyond spending at least one year there. I don’t want to restrict myself or set a time limit on the experience. I want to be able to explore all of this vibrant and diverse country, to learn much about a culture that is new to me, and to share my passion for music with many other people who also love and enjoy making music.

I will be using the Colourstrings method to teach in Prince Albert, an innovative and effective way of teaching music to kids that initially does not demand being able to read or read music. Colourstrings is user friendly for teaching in small groups and effectively uses colours, pictures and imagery to brilliantly teach the basics of string playing. The lessons follow a step-by-step plan, starting with simple ideas and moving to more complex ones, encouraging kids to be creative and express themselves through music. A portion of the money raised will be spent for me to go on a Colourstring teaching course so that I can further understand and expertly employ the system for the benefit of the students.

I will also be undertaking luthier training that will enable me to repair and restore instruments, do bow rehairs and look after the precious ARCO instruments that are being sent from the UK. I will be learning how to rehair bows, fix and adjust sound posts and bridges, shape tuning pegs and other basic skills. I will need to attend a few different courses in order to learn these skills!

The final step is to learn Afrikaans, as this is the language of the area and in order to communicate with the children and people of Prince Albert I have to be able to speak their language. Hence I am embarking on an Afrikaans language course too.

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I am going to South Africa as a volunteer and will not be receiving a salary while I am there, although ARCO has very kindly found me accommodation in Prince Albert. In order to be able to undertake the training necessary in order to be ready for my work, and also pay for flights, visas and other necessary costs I am humbly asking you to help me make this adventure possible with financial donations. 

Colourstrings teacher training course: £585

Luthier training course: £1,200 (£400 per course)

Travel to Prince Albert: £1,400

Visa: £500

Afrikaans lessons: £50

Miscellaneous, i.e. bicycle, utilities, mobile etc. : £300

TOTAL = £4,035

Not only will your donations help me to learn vital new skills, but you will also be helping ARCO send a proficient and capable teacher to their students so that they can start their journey into music with the best footing.

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