UFH Music Department first Postgrad workshop hits the right chords

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Postgraduate students from the University of Fort Hare (UFH) Music Department were equipped with much needed skills to help them master their research methodology and excel in academic writing during an intensive five-day workshop.

The Department’s first-ever Postgraduate Training and Capacity Development Workshop took place at the Windsor Cabanas Hotel in East London from 24 to 29 November. The intimate, but yet rigorous sessions were facilitated by local and international Musicologists and scholars.

The Vice-Chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu joined the workshop on the fourth day. He defined the training sessions as an “intellectual and knowledge excavation” exercise.

“The workshop is a great idea, we are upping the game in terms of knowledge and profiling the department as the best music department in the country.”

Mr Nduduzo Makhathini, Head of the Music Department, said they were honoured by the VC’s presence. “Deep down in his heart the VC understands that the Music Department could play a big role in terms of advocating for the legacy of the university.”

According to Mr Thembela Vokwana, UFH Music Senior Lecturer, postgraduate students in music research programs sometimes come in with limited mastery of the broad range of Critical Theories in the Humanities (including Musicology) and issues around research methodology and academic writing.

“Varied sub-disciplinary backgrounds, unequal preparation in the undergraduate programs are some of the contributors to such imbalances. These disparities constitute the first hurdle in progress towards completion of senior degrees. Equally challenging is the writing process.”

Mr Vokwana said the workshop, along with intensive winter and summer schools on combining lectures on theory, methodology and academic writing are some of the solutions proposed by the department to address these impediments.

“The proposed school seeks to create a community of continuous support and intellectual exchange among all graduate students at UFH,” said Vokwana.

Facilitators and scholars who shared their work and expertise at the workshop include the following:

  • Prof Christine Lucia, Prof Emeritus at Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation – Stellenbosch University;
  • Dr Patricia Opondo from the University of KwaZulu Natal
  • Dr Lee Watkinson, Rhodes University;
  • Dr Phuti Sepuru, University of Pretoria;
  • Dr Akhona Ndzuta, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Fort Hare: Cultural Policy and Music Business;  
  • Dr Zoliswa Ntwana, University of Fort Hare: Action Research;
  • Ms Pakama Ncume from Africa Open Institute for Music and;
  • Mr Vokwana.

Mr Vokwana said: “At the completion of the training cycle, the postgraduates will be equipped with more career related knowledge and skills such as proposal writing for grants, writing for publication, navigating the publishing landscape, academic citizenship and other career enhancing expertise within the area of music research in higher education in general. Ultimately, this program aims to produce graduates who do not only complete MA/PhD degrees but also do not stagnate beyond formal studies.”