Headmaster’s Assembly – 18 October 2019


Which one would you sacrifice?


Three choirs touched my heart recently. Our own choir performed at the final assembly for our Form Vs and sang a combination of Osiyeza and the National Anthem that blew me away. The Ndlovu Youth Choir produced a song they recorded at the Mall of Africa for the World Cup that is so insipiring. At the RCL Charity assembly we were entertained by a choir of young people who were hearing impaired and had either a partial or total loss of hearing – some from birth and some as a result of accidents or medical issues. This caused me a great deal of thought which I shared and debated with my class. If I had to lose one of my senses now, which one would I sacrifice?

This is an unfair question and is one that hopefully will never happen but it asks another question – which of the five main senses, touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste do you value the most? There are other senses that have been defined with intuition or the sixth sense perhaps the better known but for now I will focus on the five listed above. Let us for argument’s sake say that you have experienced all five up until now but now you have to work out which is the most valued to you.

In considering this, while counting myself so blessed for having all five in reasonable working order still, my mind kept going to music and how much I appreciate music in all forms and all genres and I tried to imagine a world without music. What would that feel like?

Imagine watching a scary movie where the axe-wielding murderer is about to attack his/her helpless victim. It is only made really scary by the soundtrack. A stirring movie that inspires us like Rocky or Braveheart where the charge of heroic individuals and groups is always accompanied by stirring, uplifting music. Then the inspiring movies such as Chariots of Fire that make you want to take up running – at least for a short while! Or the romantic love-story that brings lovers together to the sound of a gorgeous love song. And this is just movies.

We are often entertained by music as a thing on its own, whether it be a single musician or an ensemble such as a band, choir or orchestra. We are so blessed to have this for us every week at least. This is not background music but entertainment in its own right.

Then we have the music that we listen to in our cars, on our way to and from work, while we are cooking or doing chores or simply chilling with people. Music is often a big part of what we do – either in the background or as the focus of our entertainment.

Finally, we have music in the form of community singing such as hymns and other religious songs, school songs and national anthems that people sing together in support of a cause or as a united community.

So my hearing is so important to me largely because of music, which is why music is so important to me and so much a part of my life. As I shared with you above, I simply cannot imagine a life without it. The next obvious question is “Why?”

The need for music is all about emotion and the feelings music give us when we listen. Feelings of fear, triumph, joy, love, peace, happiness and so on. It makes us feel alive which is why I am so grateful to artists for sharing their works with us. I haven’t even mentioned artists who also use music to make a statement such as Pink (What about us?), Bob Dylan (various) and Savage Garden (I Believe).

Just like any artist, whether they are painters, sculptors, photographers and so on, musicians give of themselves to the world through their personal compositions or through their performance of some else’s. They share themselves in an intensely personal display of emotion as they give of themselves to us. I have the greatest admiration for musicians of all kinds. I may like their work, I may not but I admire all for their courage in their performance.

So – of the five senses, the one I would miss the most would be sound. I realise that most of you have all five intact and in perfect working order, albeit selectively at times! Be intensely grateful for this gift that not all the people in the world enjoy. We often talk about the big things in life but forget and take for granted the small things we accept as part of everyday living. Being able to see, feel, taste, smell and to be able to hear beautiful music that feeds the soul.

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”


“Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t.”

Johnny Depp

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”