Music assists first-years to cope with challenges in fun way

by Gerrit Bester

11 May 2022

The transition from high school to university can be daunting and first-year students often face numerous challenges making this cross-over. The dedicated staff at the Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) Directorate: Student Development and Support (SDS) is acutely aware of these challenges and has joined forces with Jive Media Africa to reach out to the student community by using music as a medium, therefore subscribing to the theory that the medium is the message.

First-year students who participated in a project to identify typical challenges they encounter from which four songs emanated.

According to Jive Media Africa, many of the challenges students face during their first year at university, unfortunately, remain hidden due to stigma, fear of expressing vulnerability, and feelings of legitimacy. 

Student support counsellors are usually made aware of these on a one-on-one basis and gain useful insights to help students to cope. However, it is difficult for them to reach the overall student body, especially at a university with such a large student body.

From 7 March, Jive Media Africa’s Hip Hop U Programme brought together seventeen first-year students, student counsellors, and musicians at TUT’s Arcadia Campus to co-create youth-relevant messages in a medium that students can relate to. 

Through this process, students became empowered, student counsellors gained new and deeper insight into the issues faced by students, and musicians got the opportunity to put their talents to use in service of the University and the broader community.

“Together with Jive Media, we recruited 17 first-year students. We got together from 7 to 9 March at the Arcadia Campus’ Science Auditorium where participants were asked to identify typical first-year issues, and then categorise them on flipcharts,” explains Kobus Fourie from SDS who played an instrumental role in getting the project off the ground. 

The students formed four groups (LNTC, The Poetic Revolutionaries, Secure Insecurities, and Redemption) and identified solutions to their challenges. Then each group wrote and composed a song around these themes, assisted by a professional musician from Jive Media Africa to create the final songs (“It’s not easy”, “Save Me”, “You are not alone”, and “You have to live”) that will be made available to the broader student community.

“We were made aware of first-year issues and also possible solutions, e.g. loneliness due to being away from home has been addressed in the song You are not alone,” says Kobus. “We can use these insights as prevention guidelines and motivators in our SDS contact with students in future,” he adds.

To listen to the songs, please click on the following links:

The Poetic Revolutionaries – “It’s not easy”.
Redemption – “Save me”.
Secure Insecurities – “You are not alone”.
LNTC – “You have to live”.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711 Email: