Music school overcomes challenges of gang violence to host concert

TM Community Music School will be hosting their concert on Sunday October 1 at 4pm at PPK Church, New Woodlands. From left are founder and instructor, Tommy Maarman, student Payton Petrus, Pastor Gert Petrus and manager of the music school and instructor, Robert Griffin.

TM Community Music School will be hosting their very first concert with their students after facing challenges of gang violence.

The school was initially based in New Life Christ Mission Church in Heinz Park, where they taught young people and children how to play instruments.

With their 20 students, they’re focusing on bass guitar, guitar, keyboard and drums. Vocals will come at a later stage as well as spiritual dancing.

Founder of TM Community Music School, who is the bass and guitar instructor, Tommy Maarman, 60, from Eastridge, said they had become fearful when, during their weekly classes, they would all of a sudden hear gunshots in the streets.

Parents were very concerned about the safety of their children and had to remove some of them from the music classes.

Ever since PPK Church, New Woodlands, opened their doors to the music school, parents have started bringing their children back to music school again, he told the Plainsman on Wednesday September 20.

“Five years ago I was thinking about investing into the community. I noticed some of the youngsters don’t know what to do after school. The gangsters are pulling the children in especially the boys, this is even noticed in the way they speak. We were on a serious mission to change this narrative,” he said.

Pastor Gert Petrus opened the church for them in August and youngsters from New Woodlands had also joined the school.

Mr Maarman also taught his son to play bass at 8. His grandmother also played the harp, he said.

Manager of TM Community Music School, who works in close partnership with Mr Maarman, Robert Griffin, 66, from Eastridge, said he joined the community school in May.

“Tommy and I played in the Restoration Gospel Band for many years, we have come a long way,” he said.

Fifteen years ago Mr Griffin had a major heart operation. “I died that day and I was brought back to life. I always wondered why the Lord spared me,” he said.

“I want young people to achieve things in life musically which can also be a form of income. My daughter made a cap with the words drum father on it. Not only can I teach music but discipline and as well as teaching them how to pray. I feel quite honoured to do this,” he said.

Three of his sons are also playing in bands in the city; he wants his legacy to continue. His great-great grandfather played the snare drum in the Scottish Army Brigade when they went to war and his father played for a local brigade who also played the snare drum, he said.

They will be hosting their first concert on Sunday October 1, at 4pm, at PPK Church to showcase what the 20 students, aged 6 to 18, have learned so far. Some of them have never played an instrument before starting lessons.

Any aged person can join. Students pay R150 every month with a registration of R300, he said.

Student Payton Petrus, 12, from New Woodlands, said she joined the music school in August.

She started learning the piano to help encourage young people to come and play and enjoy themselves at church. It took her two weeks to learn a song and she is still going.

“Joining the music school has really made me feel confident. I am so grateful to be doing this,” she said.

Pastor Petrus said he is excited about the future of this community school.

The community of Heinz Park usually make use of this venue. “Our doors are always open to the community. The purpose of the church is to serve the community and uplift the morals too. It’s not only a church thing and a one-man band. We must take hands and work together,” he said.

“I see the excitement of the children, especially our youngsters. The gangsters are getting younger. If we can start at a young age teaching them an instrument, it will be a part of their lives. This school is not for the money, they’re doing it for the love of it,” he said.

For more information contact Mr Griffin on 063 840 4893 or Mr Maarman on 061 319 2352 or secretary Kita Arendse on 068 413 1054.