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Flautist Sakhile Humbane finds Covid-19’s silver lining

Sakhile Humban

Flautist Sakhile Humbane, gold medal and overall winner of the 2015 National Youth Music Competition (NYMC) perseveres amid the global Covid-19 pandemic in Munich, Germany.

The 24-year-old flautist is studying towards a Master of Music in Flute Performance at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, München, with financial support from the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust.

The trust each year offer international study scholarships to some of the most promising South African students. Sakhile was awarded a scholarship in 2019.

“At the beginning of the year, I was invited to a prestigious international competition in Poland. I was super excited. This would have probably been my highlight of the year. Sadly it was cancelled due to the pandemic,” he says overtly.

But the talented musician, who originally hailed from KwaMashu in KwaZulu-Natal, decided to focus on the positive side, seizing the opportunity by using the downtime to practise very slowly and carefully which has helped him to improve his musical skills.

“I have also had more time to enjoy other things in life like reading and I even did a short course on psychology online. This is something I've always wanted to do but never had time,” sparkles Sakhile.

The former NYMC gold medallist agrees that is unfortunate that the rising music stars of 2020 don’t have a goal to work towards with this year’s NYMC being cancelled. Philosophically, he added a valuable tip to future contenders.

“It is very important to practise a lot but I think there has to be a balance between the practising and the enjoying of the music. When one enjoys the music from the stage it will be infectious to the audience and make the performance stand out,” he says in his quirky way.

Sakhile’s two-year- course started in October 2019. He met his current Munich main teacher when he competed at the Yamaha Music Gulf competition in Dubai in 2018 where he clinched the first prize in the Africa/Middle East category.

“I had the opportunity to have a short lesson with Andrea Lieberknecht. After that lesson, I decided that I would like to pursue my Masters in Germany under her tutelage,” he beams self-assured.

He admits that language did pose an initial hindrance but he did do some informal learning, through mobile apps. He also completed a course in Germany which he believes was more beneficial as he learned the language while being forced to use it every day.

The scholarship covers living expenses and university fees (“which are very low in Germany”). Sakhile stays in a student residence that is shared by all the universities around Munich.