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IMPI Article 1

The New and Improved IMPI

It’s a new year and a new IMPI hard enduro fast approaches. After the success of last year’s event, the IMPI organisers are eager to give their rider’s an even better race, adding new improvements to make IMPI better than ever.

The first major improvement to the event is the new location, moving from last year’s position at Elandshiem, to the new headquarters of Tugela Ferry. This bigger, more accessible venue will allow for far more of the riders and their crew to stay together. Riders are encouraged to end the day gathered together in comradery to go through race briefings, review photo and video footage and swop war stories of the hard day’s ride. The new location has changed the setup of the routes, which will now follow a “clover leaf” design to bring all riders back to the same central point. This strategy means the loops will cover a smaller area, which benefits both the safety of the riders and the enjoyment of the spectators.

Another major change to last year’s race is the date of the event itself. This year’s main IMPI race will be held from the 15th to the 17th of June, to avoid the dehydrating heat as well as fostering the prospects of a dry race. Riders are expected to be able to push themselves a lot harder with the winter chill on their side. Bronze covers roughly 40km of hard track, while Silver is hiked up to 80km and Gold resting at a mammoth 120km. And with the addition of several longer passes, including the challenges of a 1,5km off camber downhill on Silver and a 6,5 uphill on Gold, the riders are promised the hard enduro they bargained for.

The race itself will operate on the same format as previous years, opening with Thursday’s time trial to batch the riders for the starting of Friday’s first day of racing. However, this year’s event is fully timed, offering each rider their individual loop times as well as providing a time cut off for each level. Should they be feeling strong, riders are once again afforded the opportunity to upgrade to the next level than what they registered for. This means they can move from Bronze to Silver and from Silver to Gold, if they feel revved to push themselves further.

The main IMPI race has grown due to popular demand and so the entries have been increased to 600 riders in total. And while last year’s numbers meant that, at the busiest of times, up to 400 riders could be on one loop, this year’s number has been capped at 300. This will minimize bottle necking and frustration and insure enough safe time and space to do the track justice.

Finally, this year’s IMPI has seen many a new partnership with a variety of sponsors in order to pump up the event with some great prizes and give-aways that participants can be on the lookout for. The generosity of these sponsors has allowed for the ethos of IMPI to remain intact, supporting the promise of giving back to the riders and the community by building an enjoyable event at great value for money.

With the improvements and changes to the organisation of the event, coupled with the enthusiasm and loyalty of the riding community itself, IMPI 2017 riders can expect a mean and unmissable IMPI…again.

Impi Article 2

Community Outreach

It is now less than a month until the much anticipated Impi Enduro, which promises to be more exciting and grueling than ever before. Impi aims to please its loyal supporters by putting on an enjoyable race. Over the last few years, support for the event has grown exponentially and therefore, Impi wants to share that growth with others.

This event would not be possible without the uncompromising support and assistance of the local community in which the race is set. With the full backing of the local chiefs, municipality and tourism departments, the annual influx on the event weekend ensures a mutually beneficial success for the parties involved, creating more jobs and revenue for all. But Impi hopes to help more than just local businesses and in order to achieve that goal, the event organisers look for the support of its participants.

Impi Enduro is set within the hills and farmlands of Tugela Ferry, an area with many local underprivileged communities and households. The rough and treacherous terrain on which the courses are mapped pass through many of these homesteads and as such, Impi wants to show the gratitude from the riders in the form of community enrichment within the area

Since the event’s inception, Impi has been using the platform of the race to gain support for these struggling communities and last year was no different. Generous monetary donations were deposited directly into the community drive funds. In addition to this, over 400kgs of clothing was distributed amongst the municipal wards to those in need, and 400 soccer balls were given to local schools.

This year, Impi is turning up the heat in more ways than one. As the event gets bigger, so too must the causes it aids. With the help of the Masinga Municipality and various sponsors, Impi seeks to focus this year’s charity outreach on enhancing and growing the love of sport within the local community which Impi calls home.

This year, we actively implore all riders and spectators to bring not only clothing of any kind, but also sporting kits and equipment. With particular focus of sports like cricket, soccer, hockey, rugby, netball and basketball, any equipment in decent working condition would be greatly appreciated. Boots, gloves, helmets, bats, balls and sticks would all be invaluable to these children who would otherwise be unable to enjoy these enriching and healthy sports. And of course, any and all cash donations would be the boost the local schools need to improve their sporting facilities and equipment supplies.

Each and every rider at Impi can attest to the value and enjoyment a healthy day of sporting can give. The importance of building and fostering a sense of community and kindness is an essential by-product of the Impi Enduro. We encourage riders and spectators to respond to the call and arrive at this year’s race ready to race and ready to donate.

Bred 4 the Wild Project

The Bearded Vulture, giant guardian of the Drakensburg skies, has a renewed chance at survival. Its wild population numbers shrunk down to an estimated 350 birds, this majestic creature is now considered a critically endangered species. As such, KZN Wildlife, in collaboration with African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, have set about remedying this dire situation before it proves too late.

The Bearded Vulture Recovery Project is an internationally recognised and government approved campaign jointly operated by a South African and Lesotho task force, with the objective of building a stable genetic pool for the sustainable continuation of the species.  An effort to harvest, breed and release a growing population of these birds should ensure their survival in a surplus of diverse genetic prospects, without damaging impact on the existing wild population.

Working on a Cain & Abel system, the first hatchling disposes of the second egg, halving the potential population. Active nests are located by the project each year, the smaller second egg is removed from the nest before either hatch. With the help of sponsors such as Total, Land Rover and Cooper tyres, the nest network scattered along the escapements of the Drakensburg Mountains are tracked, budgeted to prevent similar DNA and harvested for excess eggs. The hatchlings bred in captivity are then fed and nurtured by vulture puppets, donated by the Bill Gates Foundation, and later by the only female adult presently in captivity, housed at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary. This process will be conducted annually, the harvesting of a variety of nests to strengthen the genetic diversity of the pool. Meanwhile, the hatchlings reared in captivity will take 6 to 7 years to reach maturity, thereafter pairing off with a mate to produce the first eggs conceived in captivity. The fledglings resulting from these unions will released back into the wild, to bolster the species’ natural population, while the projects continuation of this breeding project will maintain the foundation of a gene pool should the wild population falter.

While the project is in its early years, the success of this year’s harvest is hoped to produce 4 to 6 promising eggs which are scheduled to all be harvested and hatched within the next 3 weeks. And with promising results established by similar projects in Europe, the Bearded Vulture Recovery Project hopes to grow and prosper in the years to come. Through the influence and collaborative efforts of KZN Wildlife, the custodians of this project, government level management of permits and compliances, generous private sponsorships as well as the quality care which the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary provides, the Bearded Vultures of this region are sure to once again thrive.

Student volunteers brighten up Toy Library paintwork

“Everything looks better with a fresh coat of paint,” Lindo says as she drags the bristles of her paintbrush over the shipping container in front of her. Alongside her stand two others, one crouched low, brushing up the corners while another balances tentatively on an empty paint can, stretching to reach the top of the container.

Lindo and her friends make up some of the 18 Rhodes students who volunteered to repaint the Toy Library at the Joza Youth Hub in Grahamstown on Wednesday (26 July 2017). After instructions from a skilled local painter, the handing out of equipment and paint was quickly completed as the students got stuck into their manual labour. The group surrounded the small, multicoloured buildings of the Toy Library in their efforts to touch up the faded existing white base paint, careful to avoid messing on the haphazard sprinkle of letters and numbers adorning the library.

As part of the Trading Live community engagement program, this afternoon activity brings together factions of the Grahamstown community who may not always interact. Sweetness, an enthusiast participant explains how volunteering for these initiatives helps her get out of the ‘Rhodes Bubble’. “We often get so caught up in our own busy lives that we don’t take the time to help others around us. But with Trading Live, it gives the community the opportunity to gather and share skills. Those in the town share their knowledge with us, and then we give back to them like this”, she says, gesturing to her artful patch of paint.

With a shortage of paint brushes to go around, volunteers took turns refreshing the less refined sections of the building. Sentiments rang out through one group that, if they had known there was a shortage of paint brushes, they would have donated some. “Next year,” one said. “Why next year? Why not next week, or next month?” responded another. As the group packed up to leave, most express their surprise, “It’s time to go already?” Leaving a place of childhood fun in a brighter state than before, some might hope this simple act of kindness is replicated more than just once a year. Why not next month? Or maybe even next week?

Humans of Music

Following the journey of Abigail McArthur and Emma Moor, two talented musicians telling their own stories of their lifelong relationship with music.

Abigail

3. Abby Edited 1

“My mom taught me my first piece on the piano, before I started going for lessons. And my dad taught me my first piece on the saxophone. That was and still is special to me. I started playing piano when I was eight, so I’ve been playing that for nearly thirteen years. And I started playing sax when I was ten, so I have been playing that for going on eleven years. I’m currently looking to do my Performance Diploma for saxophone and I’m at a Grade 7 level for piano.

I didn’t actually choose to play the saxophone. My dad played the sax but he also played the clarinet. So when my dad was learning sax, I took his clarinet. He would play his sax in the one room and I would go and pretend I knew what I was doing on his clarinet and just blow and fiddle around. I said I wanted to go for lessons so when I went to the school’s head music teacher, she said there was a shortage of saxophones in the school wind ensemble. She wanted me to play sax. So the school loaned me a sax for two years and I fell in love with it. I couldn’t imagine myself playing anything else now.

I played in the school wind band for nine years because my music teacher wanted me to. But I started young and was really excited to play in those bands. I then heard about the youth orchestra and I thought it would be cool to broaden my horizons and meet new people while learning how to play in a different, more professional group. So I played in the orchestra for four years. Playing in an orchestra is amazing. You’re hearing the music around you and you’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing for the music. You’re playing to make something beautiful, something that would otherwise remain a couple of sheets of black and white paper. Playing solo is very different from playing with other people. Because when you’re playing with people you have to hear what everyone else is doing and link into that. But when you’re playing by yourself, you can express whatever feeling you want.  Music without emotion is pointless.”

4. Abby 2

“Having that emotion is very important to playing. Because you can be practically good but your music can do nothing. You need the emotion, from yourself. And you need to have the skill, through your music, to bring it out in other people. In any good performance, you have to fully immerse yourself in that moment and give yourself completely to the music. Your mind and body needs to be concentrating on your notes and on your fingers and on the sound that you’re producing rather than anything else that’s happening around you. As you get better, you’re able to keep that focus and still feel what’s going on around you and play for that audience. I played five different pieces for my last saxophone exam, ranging through all the styles. I loved the fact that I could produce, within the space of thirty minutes, different emotions in the people who were listening, just by the way I was playing and by the emotions I felt I was able to portray through my instrument.

I think, when I look back on it, the study of music came easy to me. And because it came easily, I didn’t learn. I did the bare minimum that needed to be done and I was luckily able to produce the same result as what people who worked really hard produced. Through playing music and through studying music as a subject, I learnt to listen for and appreciate the finer details of the music, the things that come together to make up the entire piece. So when I listen to music, I don’t just hear the music. I am able to dissect it when I hear it on the radio. I hear the beat and all the different instruments that are being used and whether it’s electronic or acoustic. I hear the repetition of patterns and I appreciate the musicality of each song. I learnt to see and feel the art in the music rather than to simply listen to it.

Since finishing school and my academic study of music, I didn’t play for a year. A whole year. I didn’t touch it. And I could feel it. It’s not the listening to music, it’s the playing of music, being in the music and grappling with it and then finally being able to produce something. And, in missing that process for that year, I felt like my brain was just sludge. It was switched off. I felt like I was functioning at a lower level than what I was capable of. And I realised that music is something that is part of me. It’s something that I simply have to do for myself to give myself love. In having that talent, I’ve come to realise the power I have with it. I took it for granted for so long and I’m only just starting to realise that I can actually do something worthwhile, for myself and for other people.

I don’t think I decided that music was going to be my life. I think I was blessed with a musical talent and the musicality was born in me. It wasn’t me choosing the music. It was the music choosing me.”

Emma

1. Emma 1

“I always knew that I could play piano. It’s a born talent of mine and it’s always just come naturally to me. I started playing when I was six. Before that, my mom would play music by all the greats like Chopin, Beethoven and Mozart. That music was ingrained into my mind from a young age. A lot of my love of music is owed to my parents. They nurtured my talent, they fostered my experiences with it and exposed me to really beautiful music. That had quite a big impact on how I perceive music now and how I enjoy it. I have been playing for around fourteen years now and I have my Grade 8 for piano.

I didn’t do grades when I was younger. I just learnt how to play piano, how to read the music, how to find the notes, how it should sound. My mom knew that if I did exams at that age, I would grow to hate the instrument. So when I got into the grades, initially I was very nervous. I knew that there was a possibility of completely destroying my passion for it. But I’m quite a determined and competitive person with myself. So when I started climbing the ladder, I realised I could do it and that the end goal would be quite an achievement. For a long time piano was as easy as breathing. And then, when I started playing harder songs, I had to really study and put the hours into practicing it. A song would often take so long to decipher, to figure out and learn the ins and outs of it. But when I eventually overcome it and I could play that piece, I knew how long I spent looking at that music and how long I spent crying over not knowing how to do it. It became such a reward every time I played it again, like I had conquered it.  There were times when I didn’t want to carry on, because the constant practice was completely snuffing out my passion. And then I would overcome a song, ace an exam or play for others and suddenly my passion was renewed.

There are people who can just sit down and play a piece once off and not need to practice it. For a mere mortal like me though, it takes a long time to master a piece so I feel a personal pride when I finally get it. And it reminds me that this is something that not everyone can do and I love that it’s something special about me. And so I love it when I can play something and have other people enjoy it. It excites me to know that I can give someone an experience that is completely unique. I attach quite a lot of emotion to the music that I play. When I play something in a certain situation, often, if I play it again, it brings memories of what that situation was like, what happened and how it came about.”

2. Emma 2

“I have a musical talent. I can sing, I can play piano, I can hear notes and pitches. I can understand it all. You can’t really avoid falling in love with it. You can’t switch off the ability to listen to music in a critical way because you’ve got this deeper understanding of it because it’s something that is a part of you.

But after school, I hardly ever played and I realised how much I missed it. At school, I played for about ten hours a week. I put a lot of time into it and I was always thinking about it, always doing something with it, always working towards something. And when that structure fell away, I was no longer forced to play. Having been forced to play for so many hours, all the time, to suddenly not have to answer to anyone musically anymore, it completely changed my relationship with it. In the beginning I felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

But over time, it went from “I don’t have to play because someone is telling me to” to “I wish someone was telling me to.” I almost gave up on the instrument because someone wasn’t whipping me to play it. And then I ended up whipping myself because I couldn’t stop missing it and I didn’t want to lose my skill. I can tell that I have lost a great portion of my skill because it’s not something that I have been doing over and over again recently. That really upsets me that I can’t retain it. I’d love to be able to learn something and always be able to play it, remember the notes, the chords, the song itself. When I tried to play some of my old final exam pieces, it was quite a blow for me to go back to something that I could once play perfectly, only to find that I could no longer remember it fully.

I really miss playing. It was a useful stress reliever. In school, when I was stressed about something, I would go and play piano. If I was upset about something, I would go and play piano. If I had a really good day and I was on a high, I would go and play piano. It was the perfect outlet for all of my emotions. It became a best friend to me. I would give it the knowledge and skill that I had and in return, it would give me beautiful sounds and amazing melodies.

There is something born into people who can really hear music. Everyone can hear music but when a select few listen to it, we can hear things no one else can hear because we’re listening for it. Because we are tuned to it. Music can never be a passing phase for someone like that because those people are constantly trying to make up new harmonies for songs, to perfect pieces that have been neglected and always trying to improve their knowledge and relationship with music. It makes me sad that some people live their lives without that, only engaging with music in shades of grey and not experiencing the full colour that it has to offer.”

The New Age of Musical Learning

Music is something that flows through all of us. Though it may be a seemingly random abstraction of vibrations reverberating within the ears and into the brain, it speaks to our inner most souls. But there are a few in this world, whose souls speak back through the creation of music of their own.

While the discipline of learning musical craft may seem impossibly daunting and illusive, the call to create will always outweigh these anxieties, especially for those touched by the feverish talent of musical creation. It’s an urge, a thirst, sometimes a struggle. but always a thrill. But in the breakneck pace of 21st century life, with all of the chaos of movement and immediacy, the fine tuning and life-devoting practice of music may seem out of reach to the amateur musician seeking to break into the realm of combining their passion with their profession.

Enter MasterClass, a clean-cut, exclusive online course website, collaborating with top-tier professionals of the trades in order to give you the inside scoop not only on their process but advice on the curation of your own. While there are currently a fair number of classes advertised on offer, ranging from writing, cooking, chess and comedy, there are several unmissable musical related courses to explore.

1. Hans Zimmer Teaches Film Scoring

Trying to stay objective about how exciting the prospect of Hans Zimmer imparting wisdom is a personal physical impossibility and therefore, any pretense at this will now be thrown out the window.

Hans Zimmer is a composing God, a modern legend of musical creation. If film scoring or writing any kind of soundtrack music in general is your professional dream, you will already have a shrine to this man and he will therefore need no introduction. For those who need a little more persuasion, go check out the soundtracks for grand epics like The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar (actually, almost any film made by Christopher Nolan), Sherlock Holmes, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lion King and my childhood favourite, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. (There are so many more but I have to try and keep the fan-girling to a minimum).

His understanding of the raw emotion which sound contributes to these films is unparalleled, to such an extent that to simply hear a few notes of his melodies can eternally seal those images in your mind’s eye. Basically, if any one who is anyone wants to make a monumental movie, Hans Zimmer is the music guru you need to get you there. To learn from this musical icon through an online class would be yet another reason to be grateful to live in the internet age.

2. Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz

Yes, I am still talking about composing. And this musician embodies the fact that composing, specifically Jazz, is certainly not a topic which is going to die any time soon.  Herbie Hancock is a musical prodigy, a child genius who grew to sprinkle more than a dollop of influence on jazz and musical evolution in general. His smooth and funky infusion adds a spice signature to each of his compilations. Plus the man just oozes cool.

Much like Hans, his achievements are so diverse that it’s hard to clearly illustrate his fluidity in one swift shot. Don’t know what I mean? Go sneak a taste at some of best work.

It’s hard to believe this kind of ear and intimate relationship with sound can be taught, but if any man is up to the task, it would be him.

3. Deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production

Composing of a different kind is taught under the passionate guidance of Deadmau5 (pronounced Dead Mouse), a multi-Grammy nominated international DJ. One of the most coveted progressive house artists of the genre, Deadmau5 takes his synthesizer- infused beats to a new level in a world where the ease of computer generated music is steadily rising. With added elements of trace and electronica, his best work is easily recognisable.

Deadmau5’s laid back attitude, blended with his serious passion for his craft makes him a valuable teacher for the budding DJ or modern music producer. His understanding of the uphill climb that is the conquering of the music industry is an insight which itself alone is worth a taste.

4. Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing

Ever had that dream of being one of the best vocalists the world has ever heard? Yeah, well this power house woman owns that dream. And who on Earth would be better at teaching how to sing with such emphasis and gritty emotion than Christina Aguilera herself. Whether you have heard of her or not, whether you enjoy her brand of music or not, there is no disputing the fact that she is the vessel of a massively elaborate and powerful voice and she sure knows how to use it.

From the very first note of her rendition of Something’s Got A Hold On Me (Burlesque), her outstanding talent packs a full punch. My personal favourites to exhibit her range would be songs like Hurt, Beautiful, Bound To You and Say Something. Her clear control of her instrument has been finely tuned over the years. Plus, it’s obvious she is comfortable and successful in her abilities and techniques in terms of vocal training, in her repeat appearances as a professional coach on The Voice.

5. Reba McEntire Teaches Country Music

Country music is a lifestyle. Not a genre. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s a style of music which is largely popular all over the USA and indeed internationally, and Reba McEntire has played a big role in the genre’s success. Known as The Queen of Country, this redhead power player has devoted her life to the creation, experience and performance of country music and her efforts have truly paid off. With 28 of her albums (yes, I said 28) having gone gold, platinum or multi-platinum over the years, she has comfortably set herself up as one of the best selling artists of all time. She is very much worth the listen to so check out a glimpse of her stuff here.

It’s clear that hardship and harvest, heartbreak and honesty all inform the country music life and Reba McEntire is no stranger to any of these things. She fully understands that while country music may sound simple and perhaps even cliche to the untrained ears, it takes true guts to connect in such a raw and clever way to the situations life sends your way and to channel those feelings into songs.

Last but not least we have…

5. Usher Teaches the Art of Performance

Again, whether you like Usher’s music or not, you cannot fault the man on his successes. His concerts are the stuff of legend and it’s not just the vocals, choreography, stage production or instrumental talent that goes into it to make it perfection. And Usher understands that.

At the end of 2009, Billboard named him the second most successful artist of the 2000s decade and the number one Hot 100 artist of the 2000s decade. His hard work has proven to keep him adaptable as he has managed to evolve his hip-hop style to suit the present markets, maintaining his status as one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has also shown his training abilities through his successes coaching on The Voice. And I mean, come on…the guy has just got bucket-loads of swag. Don’t believe me? Go track his progressive rise to stardom through these hits.

With the attractive allure of such incredible talents from all over the music industry, it’s encouraging to see how technology can help foster the growing relationship needed between the current superstars of music, to the budding amateurs who could one day become icons through these revolutionary online courses.

 

 

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