Directorate Music

About Directorate Music

1994-2019: 125 years of excellence

The early years

The music examination system as we know it today originated in 1872 in England. In South Africa, the University of the Cape of Good Hope introduced music examinations as a result of a letter written by Mr A Biden on behalf of the music teachers in the Cape Colony. The Council of the University, in consultation with Sir George Grove (then Director of the Royal College of Music) agreed to organise experimental music examinations in partnership with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, who supplied the curriculum, the music books and the examiners.

The first music examinations were conducted in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Worcester, George and Kimberley in 1894, with the first candidate being examined by Prof Franklin Taylor in Worcester on 16 August. Of the 269 candidates who presented themselves, 214 passed. By the following year (1895), these numbers had swelled to 330 and 236 respectively. These early music examinations consisted of a compulsory written paper, known as Preliminary, and a practical performance on piano, violin, organ or in singing and were offered on two levels of proficiency - Lower and Higher. The first overseas music scholarship was awarded to Gladys E Watts in 1899 and so began more than a century of steady growth.

1918 - 1945

As successor to the University of the Cape of Good Hope, the University of South Africa inherited the responsibility for the music examinations in 1918. Although local examiners had marked some Theory of Music papers as early as 1928, for such reasons as assertive nationalism, the Afrikaans language issue, the Depression and the Second World War, the need for South African practical examiners became imperative. The first South African practical examiners took to the road in 1933 and included Messrs Oliver Karstel, Petrus Lemmer, David Roode and Colin Taylor. The University assumed complete control of the music examinations in April 1945.

1945 – 1995

A Joint Advisory Committee was established which included representatives of the provincial education departments, other universities and the South African Society of Music Teachers. In 1965, the University Council resolved that the JACM be dissolved and replaced by the Committee for Music Examinations, which continues to function with direct responsibility to the University Council.

In 1958 Prof DJ Roode was appointed the first full-time Director of Music in a department administered by the Secretary of the Joint Matriculation Board. He was succeeded by Prof Hennie Joubert (1967), Mr John Roos (1987) and Prof Hubert van der Spuy (1991). On 1 January 1987 an autonomous Department of Music Examinations was established, headed by Mr Japie Saayman, and in 1990 the name was changed to the Department of Music. Armorial bearings were acquired in 1992 and the first 100 years of music examinations were celebrated in 1994. In the same year, the University Council introduced an Honorary Licentiate in Music. The first recipients of this prestigious award included Professors Lionel Bowman, Leo Quayle, and George van der Spuy.

Music publications

With the introduction of the new graded music examination system in 1949, the University published its first set of music albums, with the first piano albums containing South African compositions being released in 1974. The journal, Musicus, first appeared in 1973 and became an accredited journal in 2007.

The Music Foundation

Following the introduction of international music competitions 1982, Mr John Roos was appointed as director of the newly constituted Unisa Music Foundation in 1990 to manage the international music competitions, concert series and the community music engagement initiatives.

The Directorate Music: 2005

In 2005 the Department of Music was renamed the Directorate Music. Dr Chatradari Devroop became the Deputy Director: Professional in 2009 and an informal parallel music assessment system known as Performance Level Assessments was introduced in 2010. Ms Arisa Voges succeeded Mr Saayman as Director: Music in 2010 and Dr Mageshen Naidoo became the Deputy Director: Professional in 2011. Prof Karendra Devroop was appointed Deputy Director of the Music Foundation in 2012.

The new Hannah Davel Overseas Music Scholarship was awarded for the first time in 2012 and the same year saw the introduction of a new jazz curriculum and jazz assessments. Jazz examinations followed in 2013. In 2014 twelve new instrumental albums were published and, for the first time, albums for brass and woodwind were included.

Finally, in 2014 all the Unisa Graded Music Examinations of the Directorate Music were formally accredited as official Short Learning Programmes of the University and 1400 music teachers were formally endorsed as Unisa music teachers. This watershed accreditation process coincided with the 120th anniversary of the Directorate Music which was celebrated with a special anniversary competition and concert.

With the departure of Ms Arisa Voges and Dr Mageshen Naidoo in 2015, the Directorate Music is currently headed by Prof Karendra Devroop as Deputy Director (Music Foundation) and Mr Sean Adams as Acting Deputy Director (Professional).

Last modified: 2019/02/27