POLOKWANE – Comfort Rivavu is just 13 years old and has already won an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles, US with his musical prowess on the piano.
Earlier this month, Comfort won the 13 to 15-year-old class in piano in the classic, contemporary, jazz and open categories at the South African Performing Arts Championships held in Rustenburg.
He won the Grand Champion Instrumental trophy as well as the Junior Grand Champion award and scored the highest points in the junior division overall.
What makes this achievement so remarkable, is that he comes from a deep rural area, a village near Giyani, “a place where the people look down on us and despised the place we came from,” his father, Coleman Rivavu said.
Coleman was the one who taught Comfort his fist basic key, A-Flat. “The rest was self-taught,” he said.
Coleman, a pastor, told BONUS everybody used to say Comfort would become a musician as he was always mimicking playing the piano since the age of one.
“Even at school, the teacher said he would do his work quickly and then was distracted and would sit and ‘play the piano’ on his desk. I did not want to buy him a piano before I was sure he was serious about music and playing the piano. We also waited until he could read.”
Comfort first began playing seriously when he was seven years old. He taught himself everything he knew and was then ‘discovered’ by a music teacher, Ester Visser, when he wrote a song with actual notes. He attended Kings Court School at the time. She asked him if he could play the notes and then wrote a letter to his parents, saying Comfort was greatly talented and she wanted to teach him to read notes. She also got people to sponsor his lessons, but recently told his parents she had taught him everything she could, and that he would have to look for another teacher to further his talent.
Comfort will now take lessons in Polokwane with Elmarie Swanepoel for the time being, to take him to a higher level.
His parents said they were speechless and overwhelmed when he won the South African championships.
“We thought it was so good that he participated at the provincial championships, that he could go to Rustenburg and be exposed to what he loves, is something else!”
They expressed their heartfelt thanks to Kings Court and the sponsors who assisted and encouraged Comfort so far. He is currently home-schooling to be in an enabling environment to be able to practice a lot. His mother, Lindiwe, also a pastor and a teacher, said he performed on 3 April, but last year he had also attended the Performing Arts Championships with the choir of his school. “We would never have known about the championships were it not for the school,” she said.
Comfort said he practised a lot and was it was “great and difficult” at the same time to participate in the championships.
“I was nervous and excited,” he said. He said he now had to look for other pieces to practice. He also plays the drums, and if he must choose between genres, he would prefer jazz and classical music. He loves science as well, and last year won a silver medal at the national Tritech competition, held in Tzaneen, for his research on the effect of chewing gum on concentration. He would one day like to combine music and science. His advice to other youngsters is to follow their dreams, set goals and never give up.