Co-creating Spaces for Resilience to Flourish

A Community Music Therapy project in Cape Town, South Africa


  • Sunelle Fouche MusicWorks, South Africa
  • Mari Stevens MusicWorks, South Africa



community music therapy, resilience, South Africa, MusicWorks


MusicWorks is a non-profit organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa, and offers psycho-social support through music to young people growing up in marginalised communities. In South Africa three hundred years of colonialism paved the way for Apartheid which left a legacy of waste, nepotism, corruption and the oppression of the majority of our country’s citizens. Its impact is still visible today and the consequences of past and current political, social and economic challenges has led to perpetuated patterns of poverty, gangsterism[1], unemployment, and family violence that are endemic to communities such as Lavender Hill where this MusicWorks project is situated. Encouraging and strengthening the resilience of young people within this community can empower them to not only break this cycle but also be part of the solution as they become contributing members of their community and society at large. Ebersöhn’s (2012) generative theory of relationship resourced resilience proposes that when individuals use relationships as a way to access, link, and mobilise resources, an enabling ecology is shaped that can foster positive adjustment in a largely at-risk environment. Drawing on this social-ecological understanding of resilience, this paper outlines the MusicWorks project in Lavender Hill and discusses case vignettes of music work with young people and the broader school community. The aim of the project is to co-create musical spaces where young people and those around them can access resourced relationships.


For the purpose of this paper the use of the term “gangsterism” is located firmly within the South African context, were terminology around “gangs” and “gangsterism” refers to a specific grouping of people who are involved in highly structured gangs whose criminal activity revolve mainly around illicit drug trade, with links to local and international organized crime networks ( Chetty, 2015; Goga, 2014; Shaw and Skywalker, 2016; Goga, 2014; Wegner et al., 2018). Several authors have linked the proliferation of gangs, specifically in Cape Town, to the forced removals of people during 1960 to 1980 as part of the Apartheid government’s Group Areas Act ( Chetty, 2015; Goga, 2014; Kinnes, 2017; Steinberg, 2004).


Author Biographies

Sunelle Fouche, MusicWorks, South Africa

Sunelle Fouché (M.Mus Music Therapy, University of Pretoria) is co-founder and Director of the non-profit organisation MusicWorks (formerly known as the Music Therapy Community Clinic) based in Cape Town, South Africa. Sunelle continues to be inspired by the musical and social vibrancy of those with whom she has been fortunate to work, as part of MusicWorks’ commitment to working in South African places that remain marginalised. She is committed to developing contextually sensitive music therapy practices and has written about the MusicWorks’ work in a number of publications.

Mari Stevens, MusicWorks, South Africa

Mari Stevens completed her Music Therapy qualification at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in 2014 and joined the non-profit organisation MusicWorks in the same year. She has gone on to be instrumental in the development and implementation of various projects at the organisation. In addition to her work at MusicWorks, Mari is currently establishing a private music therapy practice where she continues to be inspired by the transformative possibilities within musical moments.



How to Cite

Fouche, S., & Stevens, M. (2018). Co-creating Spaces for Resilience to Flourish: A Community Music Therapy project in Cape Town, South Africa. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 18(4).