It is her love for music and performance which motivates Maja Snyman (13) of Northcliff, Johannesburg, to put in hours without end. This protégée of Russian violin teacher, Irene Tsoniff, had her head set on going to the World Champions of Performing Arts later this year in Los Angeles but, unfortunately, the outbreak of COVID-19 internationally has prohibited it.

“If I were to get gold at the SA Championships, I could’ve gone, but that too was cancelled this year.”

Maja believed she had a fair chance of winning gold this year, as she had taken gold in the previous year in the Female Instrumental category.

“I was in the top 6 out of 3 000 musicians who participated. It was stressful, but I love performing on stage.”

How did you get started?

Although Maja is only 13 years old, she follows Cambridge’s Grade 10 work and plays Trinity Grade 8 violin. She has loved the violin ever since her dad, Jaco, picked one up when she was a mere four years old.

“I told my parents that I want to play with a guitar on my shoulder too,” she says excitedly. She explains that – although the violin is considered to be the most difficult instrument to learn – she always embraces challenges: “with practice, my playing gets better easier, though the pieces become more difficult.”

So where has the violin taken you?

Maja, who played in the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang last year and Snow White this year, aims for excellence. “I practise until I can play my pieces without stopping, or performing it in front of people without making a mistake.” Proving her high ambitions to herself, she dreams of being accepted at the renowned Juilliard School and performing before thousands of people on stages from New York to Rome.  She says even though it was challenging to begin playing the violin, it was the sound of the instrument which made her fall in love with it.

“I have had six violins. The first one was very tiny and we’ve framed it. Today I play with an electric and classical violin. The first I use for rock pieces and the latter for classical music.”

Do you have any other interests?

She also has other instruments and practises with each one daily, for an hour. This includes piano, guitar and ukulele. She also sings opera and receives instruction therein, as well as spending time on modelling and robotics.

This musician, who was invited to perform with the Johannesburg Orchestra, keeps fit through kung-fu and dance. Her chores include feeding their five dogs and three parrots: “The dogs love it when I practise at home, but the parrots squawk.”

Hard work pays off

Mom Anneri says she motivates Maja and her sister, Catia (14, and also a musician at heart, playing the cello, harp, piano, and bass) to do the best for themselves and no one else: “it doesn’t matter what they achieve. As long as they worked hard, we’re satisfied.” She motives her children by challenging them and teaching them the advantages of practice.

“No one can only rely on talent. Practise is a very big component (of success).”