The Democratisation of Higher Music Education in South Africa through the Creation of Music Business Programmes

By: Sheldon Rocha Leal  

Internationally the music industry has experienced major transformations in the last twenty years, resulting in a complete reversal of consumer consumption as well as employment trends. But has higher music education (HME) at tertiary level kept up with the demands of the business of music? In South Africa (SA) I determined, in my Masters studies, that there were no qualifications offered at universities geared to empowering music graduates with the music business knowledge they will require to lead long and sustainable careers in music. Although movements in the country, such as #FeesMustFall and decolonisation of education, have at times brought higher education (HE) to a standstill, this has not altered institutional behaviour. While there seems to be governmental will to establish a creative education that will empower more people to lead entrepreneurial careers, ultimately improving employment rates in the country, once again there does not seem to be institutional will. In my PhD study I set out to determine how to make HME a more accessible and attractive proposition for a wider audience, in the process making music departments at universities in SA more self-sustainable and economically viable. Not only is the decolonisation of HME in SA essential, it is also fundamental that education in SA becomes more student-centred and tripilised (globalised, internalised, and localised). I present the findings of my PhD studies and how they can assist in making HME a more democratically representative offering.

Music; Music Education; Music Business; Music Industry; Creativity; Entrepreneurship
Arts Education
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Sheldon Rocha Leal

Director of Music, Music, Centurus

Sheldon Rocha Leal is presently the Director of Culture at a private school in Irene, Pretoria, South Africa. He is also the Director of Music at the school and the Head of Operations at the attached after school recreational music academy, which he founded and started in 2008. He commenced his academic education in 1995 when he embarked on tertiary studies at the University of South Africa, wherew he attained a BA majoring in Law and Psychology. He later went on to study Contemporary Music and Business Management at Allenby Campus and Sound Engineering at Bournemouth and Poole College. He later completed postgraduate studies at the University of Pretoria, where he obtained a BMus Hons (Cum Laude), specialising in Technology in Music Education and Arts and Culture Management in 2013 and a Masters in Musicology (Cum Laude), focused on Music Education and Music Business in 2015. For his achievements at the university he was awarded, twice, with academic honours and was inducted into the Golden Key Honours Society. In 2018 he completed a PhD in Curriculum Design and Music Business at the University of the Free State. Besdies for being involved in music at both school level (Director of Music at Southdowns College and Head of Popular Music at the National School of the Arts) and tertiary level (he was previously the National Head of Sound Engineering and Music at Damelin, the biggest provider of private higher education in South Africa and a part-time lecturer at the University of Pretoria), he is also a songwriter and lyricist. He has written songs for some of South Africa's most illustrious talent: Lira, RJ Benjamin, Karen Kortje (former SA Idols winner), Danny K and Yvonne Manxeba (aka Yves). One of his songs won a Metro FM Award and peaked at No1 on the radio station (nationally syndicated urban radio station). Sheldon was a vocal consultant on the first season of The Voice, Angola and a Top 4 contestant on the Gospel reality show, Crux Gospel Star. He has spoken at various conferences including Moshito in 2011 (the largest music conference in Africa) and Independent Examination Body, National Conference in 2012. He has judged various music competitions including the Radio Pulpit Jubilate competiton, National Eisteddfod, Springs Eisteddfod, University of Pretoria Acapella Competition and the Viebz Competition hosted at St Andre's College in Befordview, Johannesburg. Sheldon is a registered member of SAMRO (South African Music Rights Organisation) and has consulted with various artists in their recording company contract negotiations. Many of his former students have managed to achieve mainstream success in the South African music industry and he considers this to be one of his biggest achievements. Sheldon was also part of a committee that wrote the national music curriculum (primary school to higher education level) for SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) and a committee that started the first ever youth arts festival linked to the Arts Alive organisation and the mayor of Johannesburg.