Change the world


Lecturer in the Department of Music, Mr Gareth Williams runs the Sound of Learning Music Project: SOUL that takes music beyond the university to students at primary schools in Port Elizabeth.


The SOUL project is a collaboration between the Nelson Mandela University and various stakeholders, including Prof Arne Bjorhei (Emeritus Professor - Arctic University of Norway), students from Nelson Mandela University Music department (Studios for Clarinet, Saxophone, Brass, Jazz and Drums), Greenwood Primary School Music Department, Mandela Metro School of Arts, Normoyle Primary School and the Northern Areas Peoples Development Initiative (NAPDI).

The project is inspired by the care and commitment that music teachers and community music facilitators show towards all young aspiring musicians. The project seeks to focus on applying knowledge and skills in music learning and performance contexts outside of the traditional conservatoire models.

The SOUL project aims to engage with real world challenges and situations and welcome students into the music teaching and learning spaces. Students observe and search experiences for meaning and sense-making so as to generate new learning and understanding aimed at improving practice and developing the student.  

Williams shares that effective learning can influence music students' abilities to put knowledge to use for the good of personal and communal growth. Deficit notions of music learners need to be challenged and reframed to look critically at their worlds and to connect their music experiences outside-the-classroom with their music learning in-the-classroom.

Gareth Williams highlighted that one of the goals of the project is for music staff and students to explore and challenge "powerful knowledge ideologies” that form the basis of the assumptions, beliefs and values that is brought to music practices.

As the SOUL project continues, Gareth Williams stresses that the experienced sense of community amongst school teachers, music learners, university students and staff, and community musicians has been crucial for emergent and expansive thinking and approaches for music teaching and learning. The engagement with ‘diversity’ enhanced Nelson Mandela University students’ learning experiences by empowering their thinking processes and developing an ‘open' approach to music learning and performance.

Watch the video here: