The Certificate Programmes in Music Literacy were established by the former Head of Department, Professor Hans Roosenschoon and the Head of Music Education at the time, Associate-Professor Ria Smit, to provide access to formal music education to historically disadvantaged learners. The late Albert Engel, former brass lecturer in the Music Department, was responsible for the significant expansion of this programme in the community. Satellite campuses were established in Caledon (2002), under Stefne van Dyk and at the SA Army Band, Cape Town (2005), the latter in partnership with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), a collaboration initiated, in its formative stages, by Prof Hans Roosenschoon, Sergeant-Major Jack Simpson and Pamela Kierman, brass lecturer in the Department since 2004.
Felicia Lesch was appointed as co-ordinator of the Certificate Programme (CP) in 2006 and her extensive contribution has established this programme as the most significant programme of its kind at higher education institutions in South Africa. Under her leadership and guidance the programme has drawn students from across South Africa, the SADC countries and affiliates (Namibia, Botswana, Congo-Brazzaville, Zambia, Swaziland, Rwanda etc.) and graduates from the CP are employed in all spheres of the South African music industry. Her long time involvement in jazz education was the catalyst for the introduction of a jazz component to the programme and led to the establishment of the highly-acclaimed Stellenbosch University Jazz Band.
The Rural Engagement Programme was initiated in the Overberg in 2008, in response to a request by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, to address the need for music education in rural areas. The Overberg Koperblaas Onwikkelings Inisiatief (OKOSI) was established as a result. Currently the number of community partners has expanded to include the Ronnie Samaai Project (Kuilsriver), the Athlone Academy of Music, Vlottenburg Music Project, Rural Arts Network (Grabouw) and MPAMA (Mitchell’s Plain).
A Service-Learning module was introduced into the Music Department for all 4th year BMus students in 2009. The Music Department has a number of community partners in which music students complete the community service component of this course. It is comprised of Community Development Theory, preparatory skills and knowledge for Community Service-Learning interaction between students and service sites. Students are required to participate in departmental community projects to establish theoretical knowledge, to generate new knowledge and to create an understanding of the specific context of music practice and knowledge.
In 2014, Felicia Lesch, together with the Head of Choral Conducting, Martin Berger, established the Certificate Programme Choral Academy, which trains aspiring choir conductors who work with community choirs in the Western Cape.
In 2015, the Certificate Programme Brass Quintet was established, which had its debut performance at the 2015 Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival. In 2013 the Centre for Music was established, which incorporates all Social Impact initiatives of the Music Department, such as the CP in Music Literacy, Service Learning (Community Service Learning component), CP Ensembles (US Jazz Band, CP Brass Quintet) etc.
- Community Musicians (Community Choirs, Bands etc.) acquire/upgrade music literacy skills, which they transfer to musicians in their respective Community Music Organisations
- Students who have had little or no access to formal music education, and who would like to pursue tertiary music study, are afforded the opportunity to upgrade their music literacy skills.
- Prospective Military and Service Band Directors acquire conducting and other related skills which allow them to be appointed as band directors in military bands in South Africa and other African countries.
- Military Bandsmen upgrade their music literacy skills.
Many graduates of the CP have forged careers in the professional music environment of South Africa.