News: Changing lives through music
By Staff Sgt. Debbie Lockhart
U.S. Air Forces Africa Public Affairs
CULLINAN, South Africa – Music filled the air and children danced as the U.S. Air Forces in Europe rock band, Touch ‘n Go, performed a concert for students and instructors of the De Beers PPC Cullinan Field Band here, Sept. 18.
This is the second year Touch ‘n Go has visited the Field Band Foundation and worked with young adults aspiring to become musicians. The foundation is a life skills program which aims to teach young adults to be creative, work together, provides career guidance and discipline, and helps them to empower themselves.
"Last year those kids, this town and this organization left an imprint on me and the band that will last forever and having the opportunity to see the kids and perform for them again is incredible,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Browning, Touch ‘n Go percussionist.
Through their music, Touch ‘n Go brought attention to the Field Band Foundation and the work they are doing in South Africa.
“If you look at our communities, we have a drug and HIV problem and we don’t want the youth to grow up on these things,” said Boy Boshiane, Field Band Foundation band coordinator.
Even though the communities have these social problems, Touch ‘n Go brings a positive outlook and serves as role models for children within the area.
“It is so easy to get caught up in negativity; hopefully we can leave a good, positive message through our music – one the audience can relate to,” Browning said.
The program also encourages youth to make good decisions and helps them to be successful in life.
“The band [Touch ‘n Go] attracts more kids to the program and if parents see the band out there, more people will send their kids and we can change lives,” said Moira Thomas, Field Band Foundation regional project coordinator for Gauteng.
The foundation has 22 bands throughout South African with more than 4,000 members.
This year, Touch ‘n Go invited the local Cullinan Field Band’s drumline on stage to accompany them during their performance. Working with professional musicians is very significant for the students.
“It is important to us because the band encourages us musically, so we are happy to have them back,” Boshiane said.
During the visit, both bands exchanged experiences, answered questions, gave advice and performed for each other, strengthening the relationship between the South African communities and the U.S. Air Force.
“It all starts with the music,” Moira said, “it does changes lives.”