Changing lives with music

Young entrepreneur opens music school for children


By Tina Soetzenberg

World famous music artist, Bono (of U2 fame), once said: ‘music can change the world because it can change people’. For young Cape Flats resident, Trevino Isaacs who started showing interest in music at the age of four, music has literally transformed his life.

Now 26, Trevino already has an extensive musical career behind him, having acted as a music director for both local and international artists. But, it was his passion for teaching that led to his greatest success story, establishing a music school in 2013 for children living in the Mitchell’s Plain area of Cape Town.

Growing up in a music-orientated family, Trevino was encouraged by his grandfather to join the local gospel band when he was just four-years old. This experience eventually influenced his passion for music, pushing him to learn everything he could about musical instruments. The church recognized his desire to learn and his natural ability to grasp any instrument, leading to Trevino playing the piano for the church at the age of ten.

Over the next few years, Trevino dedicated his time to learning everything about playing the piano and keyboard, watching and asking advice from experienced musicians. By the age of 14, the self-taught pianist, was playing in several gospel groups in and around Cape Town. When Trevino turned 15, he was approached by a band called Backchat, which expanded his musical journey forever as he started performing at corporate events. In 2006, Trevino joined the Take Note Band, soon after establishing Trevinokeys Production.

Trevino noticed the need for musical lessons in his community when he started giving local children tuition from his mother’s living room. Using his mastery for music, he was inspired to start a music school for learners as young as seven-years old, creating a safe environment for children in a space where they are surrounded by violence, drugs and alcohol abuse.

“Music has been and still is, the only work I know. There are many students in the Woodlands and Mitchells Plain area who simply can’t afford to study music and our quality affordable training is giving them the chance to master instruments and grow their natural talent,” explains Trevino.

The school is currently celebrating four years of dedicated service to the children of Mitchell’s Plain. For many, the school has been a way out of poverty and developing their natural talent into something with purpose.

“Our drive has always been to offer a service to the community and without funding or resource support we are in a position to sponsor students who show the potential but simply can’t afford the cost,” adds Trevino.


Trevino is one of 19 small business owners in the areas of Khayelitsha, Langa, Mitchell’s Plain and Gugulethu selected to take part in the sponsored Small Business Academy (SBA) programme, offered by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

With the help of its main sponsors, ABSA and the Distell Foundation, the SBA provided a platform for small business owners like Trevino to gain business, financial and operational knowledge over nine months, in-order to grow and strengthen their businesses. The SBA creates networking opportunities and offers a mentorship programme, whereby each participant is matched with a USB MBA alumnus.

“Our growth has been organic to where we teach 40 students currently. My selection to the SBA programme has had a major impact on how I structure and market the business,” says Trevino. “The knowledge I’m gaining will assist us to grow the business significantly and help us achieve our ultimate goal whereby we are in a financial position to assist more students who have the talent but simply can’t pay the tuition fees.”

Trevino’s music school follows the Trinity College London syllabus, which is recognized by all the major universities in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Classes are offered at the Woodville Primary School in Mitchell’s Plain, teaching pre-grade one learners, as well as learners aged 7 to 45.

“I have big dreams for the school and my long-term goal is to offer music certificates, diplomas and degrees in addition to offering other subjects such as finance and computer literacy,” says Trevino. “In a world where knowledge is power, we’d like to support the community in enriching themselves and their families.”

Apart from playing the piano, Trevino also taught himself the drums, guitar, bass-guitar, accordion and banjo. He will graduate from the SBA programme in November 2017, the same month that he will complete his final-year for an advanced certificate in music.

Music played an influential role in the direction of Trevino’s life, changing him as a person forever. His zeal and natural talent took him on an unbelievable path of self-discovery, ultimately leading him back home to help his fellow community members. For the children in Mitchell’s Plain, most of them are set to join local gangs and turn to a life of violence. However, music offers them an out where they are free to be themselves and embrace the magic of music.