Contact Us Press Releases AFRICOM Portal
Building Relationships Through Music in South Africa
Music has been called a universal language, capable of bringing people of many different countries and cultures together. <br /> <br />That ability was on display as the members of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band &#34;Touch &#39;N Go&#34; gave
BLOEMFONTAIN, South Africa - Students cheer for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band "Touch 'n Go" as they perform on 28 September 2011 at Navalsig High School. More than 150 students and faculty stayed after school to hear the group perform popular American rock songs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant David Dobrydney)
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: BLOEMFONTAIN, South Africa - Students cheer for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band "Touch 'n Go" as they perform on 28 September 2011 at Navalsig High School. More than 150 students and faculty stayed after school to hear the group perform popular American rock songs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant David Dobrydney) Download full-resolution version
Music has been called a universal language, capable of bringing people of many different countries and cultures together.

That ability was on display as the members of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band "Touch 'N Go" gave performances and met with local music students.

The band arrived in Johannesburg to perform at the Waterkloof Air Show. Almost immediately after landing at the airport the band began preparing for their first performance later that night at the National School of the Arts.

"We've got a good group of people who, when the going gets rough, put their heads down and work hard to make sure what needs to get done gets done," said Technical Sergeant Mark Frandsen, Non Commissioned Officer in charge of the band.

With their first concert complete, the band set off the next day on a five-hour drive to Bloemfontein for their next set of engagements. The first concert was at Navalsig High School.

Klopper said that Navalsig has no official music program aside from a school choir. "Music is not really taught anymore in most schools," he said. "But it's very important that kids learn singing, they love singing in harmony."

Klopper said the students got more than just a free concert from the visit. "The benefit is getting to meet people from another country," he said. "We don't get to have that face-to-face interaction all that often."

The audience cheered and sang along as songs ranging from KISS to Lady Gaga filled the room. Soon students, teachers, even custodians were dancing to the music.
After the concert, the students praised the band for their performance.

"It was great, I love dancing," said student Kabelo Pitikoe. "We thank them for being here."

Fellow student Dintle Adoro added that the concert was a welcome change from the everyday.

"It's something we never have over here," she said. "It was an awesome experience."
The next day, the bandsmen visited the Odeion School of Music at the University of the Free State, where percussionist Staff Sergeant Robert Browning met with the school's Dixie Band. The band is very new and had only four rehearsals prior to Browning's visit.

"We weren't really sure what level we were at because there's really no one in South Africa who plays this kind of music," said university student and drummer Angelo Mockie.

Browning listened to the band rehearse for two hours, offered advice and even sat in on the drums for one song. Mockie said that having an experienced musician like Browning come and play with them was inspiring.

"It was very nice. We were nervous in the beginning but [Browning] was quite friendly and the way he related to us really made us feel comfortable and we learned a lot in terms of how the Dixie band setup works," he said.

Browning was humbled that the band was invited to speak at the university and was impressed with the abilities of the Dixie Band musicians. "Each one of them is a great musician," he said. "For them to come together and play a style of music that 99 percent of the group has not played before, and to play it the way they're playing it now, really shows the professionalism of their individual talents that they have as musicians."

Before the band left South Africa Frandsen called the trip personally fulfilling. "When they know the words and they're singing them back to us, that's the fulfillment for us-- being able to establish that relationship through music."
PARTNERSHIPS OPERATIONS READINESS