Staff & Students

Who We Are
The Teachers at the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music are passionate about music and its ability to change a child’s life. They are all professional practising musicians which means that our children receive the best possible opportunities.
Our Teachers

16 Teachers, teaching 16 instruments

 

Music – Early Childhood Development”

Our early childhood development programme starts in 4 local creches, providing free music education to children between the ages of 4-6.

Nelisa Tshangela

Nelisa Tshangela

Early Childhood Development Teacher

Nelisa Tshangela was born 1976-01-23. She studied Music Education at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University with a specific focus on using voice as main instrument and choral conducting. While at university she adjudicated school choir competitions and continued with the adjudication when she came to Johannesburg in 2007. In 2011 she worked for Uthingo as an ECD music teacher and music coordinator at Bosmont, Newclair, Dowling and Coronation. Since 2016 she has worked at the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music as one of the Early Childhood Development music teachers.

Zanele Ndlovu

Zanele Ndlovu

Early Childhood Development Teacher

Zanele Ndlovu is a storyteller, author, scriptwriter, teacher, workshop facilitator and indigenous music instruments player and teacher. In 2017 she was awarded the Mail and Guardian 200 Top Young South Africans for the work she does in preserving indigenous languages and musical instruments.

She has written two children story books in iSizulu and produced an accompanying audio book. Her books have been translated into five South African languages (Isixhosa, Sesotho, English, Afrikaans) by Nalibali and were published Nationally in their newspaper supplements.

In 2014, she joined the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music (MICM) where she helped develop a music curriculum aimed at Early Childhood Development in music.

Theory & Choir

Every child receives 1 hour of music theory and 1 hour of choir practise

Lesang Phake

Lesang Phake

Theory Teacher

Lesang Phake is a Pianist, composer and theorist, born in Johannesburg in 1980. Trained at first as a guitarist, he later focused on piano. He studied classical music under the guidance of Johann Brand, Bernadette de Villiers, Fritz Buss and studied Jazz Music under Bheki Khoza. He has recorded a smooth jazz guitar album titled “Soulful Impressions”, and has performed extensively with his own band. He found teaching more conducive to family life and better suited to his own temperament, compared to a travelling performer’s life and its strenuous demands, hence he has given the greater part of his attention to teaching. Currently,​ he is the Piano and general music lecturer at Campus of performing arts JHB, Pianist at Siloam Word Alive Church. He obtained grade 8 in guitar (Unisa), grade 7 Piano (Unisa), grade 7 theory (Unisa), a higher certificate in adult basic education (Unisa) and is currently doing second year B Com​ degree in Supply Chain and Operations Management with Unisa.

Ferdi Rautenbach

Ferdi Rautenbach

Theory Teacher

Ferdi Rautenbach is a Johannesburg born musician. He started playing the piano at age 7 and has gone on to complete a BMus at the University of Pretoria and received his Teacher’s Licentiate in Musical Theory through UNISA. He currently plays in a Jazz band that has performed for some of the top corporates in South Africa, including Mercedes Benz, Liberty and ABSA.

He joined the Centre in 2014 and has more than 5 years of teaching experience in both theory and Piano.

Bheki Hlatshwayo

Bheki Hlatshwayo

Choir Master

He is a prolific academic and writer who has given lectures on the topic of African Music at many Universities, including, Wits, Harvard (USA), Utrecht University (Netherlands). As a trumpet player, he is equally apt in Classical music and jazz, and has played with Miagi Orchestra and the New Skool orchestra. At present he plays with the “We Will Worship” (gospel group) that was recently nominated for a SAMA at the 2019 SAMAs. He is also an award winning vocal director having worked with Lira, Simphiwe Dana and Take Note. In 2015 one of his compositions won a Loerie Award (bronze) 2015.

He is currently working at MICM as the Choir Master as well as working with the UJ Horizon Choir and the Robin Ensemble and is also a full-time lecturer, course coordinator and a Department Head at AFDA.  

Piano, Guitar & Percussion
Denzil Weale

Denzil Weale

Piano Teacher

Denzil Weale has served as either accompanist/composer/arranger/producer/music director to leading SA artists including Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Barney Rachabane, Jonas Gwangwa, Jack Lerole, Caiphus Semenya, Letta Mbulu, Jabu Khanyile, Sibongile Khumalo, Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, Bala Brothers, Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, to name a few. As an ​educator he teaches at several schools in Johannesburg including MICM where the specific focus is on awareness of the South African Songbook.

Keenan Ahrends

Keenan Ahrends

Guitar Teacher

Keenan Ahrends is a Johannesburg based Jazz Guitarist and Composer. After completing his jazz performance studies at the University of Cape Town and the Norwegian Academy of Music in 2009, Ahrends has been actively involved in performing, composing and teaching.

Ahrends has collaborated with many established musicians including Louis Moholo, Feya Faku, Malcolm Braff, Andile Yenana, Carlo Mombelli, Afrika Mkhize, Shane Cooper, Sony recording artist SOMI (USA), Salim Washington (USA) and Kevin Gibson amongst others.

Ahrends released his debut album “Narrative” in February 2017

Siboniso Tshanbangu

Siboniso Tshanbangu

Djembe Teacher

Siboniso Tshabangu has a Bachelor of Education and is both a performing artist and a teacher. He was introduced to the arts at the tender age of 9 through the Ipelegeng Community Centre, in Jabavu. His first instrument was the acoustic guitar and later developed an interest in African drums particularly the Djembe.

The highlights of his career include touring  France tour with the famous musical “African Footprint” between 2005-2006. He has shared the stage with Gladys night and Will Smith during the 46664 Mandela concert and worked with Shakira to record “Waka Waka” for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

He specializes in commercial performance and music education and is the founder of Storm Rhythm ensemble as well as a  performer at Verbs Entertainment. He joined the Centre in 2015. 

Warren Knocker

Warren Knocker

Drum Kit Teacher

Warren is a working session musician and drum educator. He started playing drums from a very young age and started his academic drum career in 2009. He Studied under Georg Voros for 6 years where he achieved his Rockschool grade 3, 4, 6, 7 & 8 certificates and later achieved his Rockschool level 4 performing arts diploma and Rockschool level 6 Licentiate. Whilst practicing as a drum educator from the year 2013, he achieved my degree in Psychology from the South African College of Applied Psychology, which has greatly influenced and benefited both his performing and teaching abilities. He have performed with many great musicians in both large and small venues, and have great studio experience through recording songs, albums and TV advertisement drum parts.

Strings
Tiisetso Mashishi

Tiisetso Mashishi

Viola Teacher

Tiisetso Mashishi is a professional viola from the dusty streets of Diepkloof Soweto. He started his music studies in 1999 at Buskaid String Academy(Then Buskaid Soweto String Project). He started off as an Oboe student then started violin studies in the year 2000. His violin studies were not successful so Rosemary Nalden(Buskaid founder, main teacher and director) put him on to viola and he then learnt with Rosemary for five years. In 2008 upon completing his Diploma with​ a distinction he then went over to the UK to audition at the four main music conservatories of London. He got accepted at all colleges but chose the Royal Academy of Music as they offered him a full Scholarship. He did a four-year​ degree studying with James Sleigh. He completed his degree in 2013 then returned to South Africa. He is currently a violin and Viola tutor at 4 schools in Johannesburg and is enjoying his career as a freelancing viola player in Johannesburg.

Freelance Viola Player.Session Musician. Viola and Violin Tutor. Viola at Resonance String Quartet

Olga Maraba

Olga Maraba

Violin Teacher

Olga is a young black violinist from Diepkloof, Soweto. She is the person in her family to learn a classical instrument. She started playing the violin at age 12 as part of the African Youth Ensemble in Diepkloof Soweto under the guidance of Kulwane Mantu. At 20 she began playing professionally and picked up the viola two years later.

In 2014 she obtained a violin performance Diploma LTCL through Trinity London College and in 2015 obtained a viola performance diploma ATCL. She is currently preparing for the violin performance diploma FTCL.

Olga has played with a number of South African orchestras, the  Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO), the Johannesburg Music Initiative (JMI) Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic orchestra (KZNPO) and Johannesburg Festival Orchestra (JFO). She has worked with world renowned conductors Bernard Gueller, Daniel Boico, Gerald Korsten, Yasuo Shinozaki and Arjan Tien, just to name a few.

Kabelo Monnathebe

Kabelo Monnathebe

Violin Teacher

Kabelo Monnathebe is a Soweto born violinist who was raised in a musical family with his uncles forming part of the Soweto String Quartet. He started playing at the age of 10 through the Buskaid String Project under the mentorship of Rosemary Nalden. It was through Buskaid that Kabelo had the opportunity to study at Royal Academy of Music where he obtained his Bmus(hons) degree in 2013.

Kabelo is now working as a freelance violinist and a violin tutor in and around Johannesburg, often playing for The Johannesburg Philharmonic orchestra and also the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra. Kabelo is also part of some chamber groups with some of South Africa’s most talented String players, namely, Resonance String Quartet and Kamva Quartet and Urban Strings.

Daliwonga Tshangela

Daliwonga Tshangela

Cello Teacher

Born in Soweto where he started music lessons under Kolwane’s tutelage in 1988. In 1989, met Prof Van de Geeste at the National Youth Orchestra and started taking his cello lessons seriously for 5 years. In 1994 he won a scholarship to study music at Chicago Music Collage where he got his masters in music. In 2002, He started the Motherwell music project for East Cape Phillharmonic Orchestra, in Port Elizabeth. In 2007 He joined the Johannesburg Philharmonic. In 2014 He started teaching cello at Morris Isaacson Center for Music.

Brass & Wind
Sibusiso Lerole

Sibusiso Lerole

Pennywhistle Teacher

Sibusiso Lerole known as Jack Lerole Jnr is a Soweto born Penny Whistler, Song writer, Producer, Arranger, Performer and Tutor who was raised in a musical family with his old man The Legendary Big Voice Jack Lerole a Kwela Music Maestro who co-found Mango Groove and also played with the Dave Matthews Band (USA). Sibusiso started as a keyboard student at the age of 11 but cos of his love for the Penny Whistle he then switched to Penny Whistle mentored by The Great Jack Lerole till 2003.

Also featured in a documentaries such as AMANDLA (a revolution in four part harmony), Back to Alexandra, with his sound track “Lerole Special” used on Mandela (Long Walk to Freedom 2013).

He is a sub Penny Whistler for Mango Groove, Band Leader of Jack Lerole’s Shukuma (Jack Lerole’s Band), CEO at Special Dust Music Studios, Teaching Penny Whistle at MICM also pursuing his career as an indipendent Musician keeping alive the Legacy of Kwela Music, Penny Whistle and African Sounds.

Tsakani Mpapele

Tsakani Mpapele

Brass Teacher

Tsakani started playing the trumpet in 2004 at the Salvation Army church. In 2006 he joined the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra playing in all the ensembles and eventually was promoted to Principal Trumpet. In 2010 he received a scholarship from the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) Academy and in 2013 auditioned and joined the JPO professional as a cadet. He has a Unisa grade 6, Royal schools Grade 8 & Trinity College London Performance Diploma (ATCL). I February 2015 he joined the Mzansi Ensemble Victor Ntoni’s Big Band and is currently a band member of Dr Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu. He is also a freelance musician for Gauteng Chamber Orchestras and currently teaches brass instruments & brass ensembles in various schools. His passionate about teaching music, sharing all the knowledge and the techniques he accumulated.

Khanyisile Mthetwa

Khanyisile Mthetwa

Woodwind Teacher

Khanyisile Mthetwa is considered one the leading new young artists in South Africa. In 2018 she won a Standard Bank Ovation Award, an award is given​ only to the best of the best up and coming artists by the National arts festival. She has been described as’ a symbol of hope’ by artsmart news. She has played as principal flute and as a soloist in a number of local Orchestras. She was the winner of both classical and jazz categories at the Unisa competition and was awarded the overall winner and Unisa foundation prize.​

Khanyisile was born in Soweto. She attended high school at the National School​ of the arts. She went on to study at the University of Pretoria and finished her Masters at Nice Conservatoire​ in France. She has lectured in Flute and Chamber Music. In 2018 Khanyisile was selected out of a few musicians in South Africa to become a Yamaha-Global music artist. 

A Word

From Our Director of Music

“To become a musician is to build a relationship with one’s own soul so that it may in turn extend and enhance the souls of others.  But music is still more. Not only does the study of music offer the sometimes-absent opportunity to learn about oneself in an in-depth emotional and physical level, it also develops a wide range of interchangeable skills. Music study enhances a student’s individual motivation and responsibility, skills practice, teamwork, independent thought, physical ability, emotional maturity, punctuality, social skills and coordination. Such skills give a musician the kind of personality, adaptability and capability that is difficult to achieve through the pursuit of any one other activity.”

– Chris Bishop