Understanding student serenading (sêr) on the Potchefstroom Campus of the North–West University
Vonkeman, Linell Elsabe
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Sêr is an annual event on the Potchefstroom campus, consisting of the various residence singing groups competing for the title of Sêr winners. The groups of singers sing a repertoire of medleys and individual songs for a student audience, all dressed in costumes based on a specific theme. The groups spend months preparing for this event and a culture of Sêr singers now flourishes on campus, since the tradition turned into a competition in the late 1990s. This study explores how the Sêr culture was formed on the Potchefstroom Campus and how the students understand this culture today. I use Hickerson’s (1977), Nettl’s (1965) and Jones’s (2006) respective definitions of ‘folk music ethos’ in this investigation, with a review of the body of scholarship on folk music and its elements. Sêr as a competition is then explained in more detail and will be discussed in terms of the subculture that it might have become and how the students perceive the Sêr phenomenon in its entirety. Internet questionnaires and interviews were used to gather data and various themes were drawn from the answers to form six categories to explore how Sêr has become a culture in itself. Amongst the various conclusions and discussions that emerged, the one key aspect of participating in Sêr is residence and campus pride, which forges friendships between the singers and strengthens their will to win a place in the top five on campus or even the title of Sêr winners. The way in which the Sêr participants make music together is an informal way of learning music that can be transferred to music education for students.
- Humanities