The Melodic Journey of Garth van Heerden

The Melodic Journey of Garth van Heerden

NRF-SAIAB’s Transformation Manager Balances Professional Excellence with Musical Passion

By Mbali Ngulube & Siyamthanda Ndinisa

In the bustling halls of NRF-SAIAB, Mr. Garth van Heerden fondly known as Tata Garth is a familiar figure, known not only for his role as the Transformation Manager but also for his melodious talents beyond the confines of his office. Garth’s heart beats to the rhythm of musical notes. An enthusiast of musical instruments, he not only plays the piano but also embraces the soul-stirring melodies of various types of violins. Garth van Heerden started working at the NRF-SAIAB in 2003 as a Systems Engineer in the IT department. About five years later, Garth went on to do his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) and then later moved from IT to Human Capital Development. He is now the Transformation Manager at the NRF-SAIAB and has been of service to the NRF-SAIAB Institute for 21 years.

Garth playing the violin.

Garth’s passion for music started in church from a young age. “In my family everyone plays music. When I was about 10 years old, I was sent to a music teacher for piano lessons”, he mentioned. He took piano lessons until Grade 7. Because a piano is mostly a solo-instrument, Garth later on decided that he wanted to play an orchestra instrument so that he could play with other people and that is when his cousin introduced him to the violin. “I started playing on my cousin’s violin and then I told my mom that I wanted to start taking violin lessons so then I took lessons for both the piano and the violin up until matric”.

Garth’s earliest memories of music go back to when his aunt used to teach people how to play the harmonica. “Almost every afternoon, the youngsters from the church would come to our house, my aunt would teach them the harmonica and that is where I got exposed to music”, he said. Garth also started to play the piano and the organ with his young cousin, and as soon as they were able to sample a few songs, they then started playing in their church because there were not a lot of people who could play the piano or the organ.

Despite receiving unwavering support from his family regarding his musical pursuits, Garth encountered his fair share of obstacles. “I grew up at my grandmother’s house and so there were always just so many people in the house and sometimes when I started practising on the piano some would tell me to stop making noise”, he said. In the afternoons, he would then go to his aunt’s house as there were fewer people there and he could practice in peace. “Because there weren’t a lot of people at my aunt’s house, I could easily sit in the lounge and practise for a good one or two hours undisturbed”, stated Garth.

Later on in life, Garth moved on to play the violin as his main instrument. “Playing the violin has taught me discipline because you realise that if you do not make time to practice regularly, you will not progress in your instrument”, he said. Garth said he played musical instruments in school and then took a break for a long time and only came back to playing again when his sons started playing as well. “Ever since I started playing with my sons, I now have people who sometimes comment that my playing has improved and I am not even aware of it. I think this comment is a result of the constant effort I put in practicing”, said Garth. He says his most memorable performance was when he played for the first time in an orchestra with his sons. “I realised that all the effort put in practicing paid out in the end. I could see that they were also enjoying it”, said Garth.

Garth is also part of the Makana Community Orchestra where he plays the violin as well as the viola. The group plays every Friday night at Kingswood College from 17:00pm until 18:00pm. At home, Garth also plays with his sons almost every afternoon.

Garth playing with the Makana Community Orchestra.

Garth encourages individuals considering learning a musical instrument to take the leap. “There’s a saying: ‘When the student is ready, the teacher appears.’ If you’re truly passionate about playing a musical instrument, give it a try,” he advises. “Seek out someone skilled in the instrument you’re interested in, take a few lessons, and if you feel it’s something you can pursue, consider investing in your own instrument.”

Garth is more than just a Transformation Manager at NRF-SAIAB. He is also a musician, a father, and a role model for anyone looking to pursue their passion and make a difference. His story is one of dedication, hard work, and the power of following your heart. Garth has shown that anything is possible with the right mindset and determination.

Related Posts