SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner 
119304  Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner 
Development Quality Partner - QCTO 
-   OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
Part-Qualification  Field 02 - Culture and Arts  Music 
Undefined  115  Not Applicable  NQF Level 04  Regular-ELOAC 
Registered  EXCO 0522/24  2022-06-21  2025-12-31 
2026-12-31   2029-12-31  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The purpose of this part-qualification is to prepare a learner to function as a Marimba Tuner.
A Marimba Tuner tunes tuned percussion instruments such as marimbas and other percussion instruments. Marimba Tuners promote professionalism and apply a strong, positive work ethic. They apply a musical and acoustic background and the art of tuning a marimba to maintain the voice and character of the marimba.

A qualified learner will be able to:
  • Tune fundamental and overtones of tuned percussion instruments according to the requirements of the musical scale of the instrument (marimba).
  • Make and repair marimbas applying woodwork skills.

    Music is a basic human function and plays a significant role in everyday life within a society, from advertising campaigns to live performances to the individual taking pleasure in it. In the African culture, music is a form of communication; it accompanies all human activities and gatherings, from marriage, birth, rites of passage and political activities. It expresses life through the medium of sound.

    African music includes a wide range of musical instruments. There is a growing interest in percussion instruments, especially in the marimba and steelpan. Participation in the annual International Marimba & Steelpan Festival (hosted in South Africa) is increasing and the demand for instruments is growing likewise. The demand for instruments such as marimbas and steelpans is unfortunately exceeding the supply, resulting in a waiting period of up to six months and more for instruments to be delivered. An increase in the availability of the marimbas and steelpans will create increased availability, particularly in the more rural and remote schools and communities in South Africa, providing an opportunity to youth to participate in bands and express themselves through music.

    The socio-economic benefits of competent Marimba Tuner are far-reaching. This part qualification aims to develop learners and promote professionalism and a strong, positive work ethic within the marimba and steelpan industry, while at the same time bringing it into line with international standards related to the production of these instruments. It provides learners with knowledge and skills to make, repair and tune marimba musical instruments. Qualified Marimba Tuners assist with the production of music instruments locally whereby supplying in the demand and reduce the dependence on imported instruments. This will increase availability of musical instruments to musicians, the public and educational institutions. These two instruments embrace and expand the African rhythm and culture and making these instruments available in rural communities will support the strengthening of social cohesion through communities coming together.

    It will also enable learners to receive a formal qualification in marimba and steelpan making and tuning where previously no formal recognition of this unique expertise and competence existed. Liaison with international practitioners from Trinidad and Tobago, which is the origin of the steelpan, highlighted that this is the first qualification of this nature. This part-qualification focusses on various aspects, including woodwork and metal work handicraft as competences for the making of the instruments as well as on the musical and acoustic background and art of tuning the instruments.

    Learners achieving this part-qualification can find employment with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that are providing outreaches to schools and remote communities, or other Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) promoting music and arts in schools for tuning, repairing and maintaining marimbas and steelpans. They can also find employment at current manufacturing workshops or establish their own small businesses. However, with the additional skills in woodwork and steelwork, successful learners can enter the craft market as being self-employed, manufacturing steel and wooden craft products.

    No similar qualifications were noted on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) because the Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner has its own unique nature and content. Typical learners include qualified learners from learning institutions and persons currently employed in the industry without formal recognition.

    No professional registration is required to operate as a Marimba Tuner.

    The Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner is one of three part-qualifications of the Occupational Certificate: Tuned Percussion Instrument Maker. It provides appropriate exit points for competence related to tuning of marimbas offering learners an opportunity to achieve knowledge and skills for operating in the music industry as a Marimba Turner. Hereafter the Marimba Turner can enrol for the Occupational Certificate: Tuned Percussion Instrument Maker thereby furthering a career in Steelpan and Marimba making, repairing and tuning. 

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
  • Learners will gain access to the part-qualification through RPL for Access as provided for in the QCTO RPL Policy. RPL for access is conducted by accredited education institution, skills development provider or is workplace accredited to offer that specific qualification/part qualification.
  • Learners who have acquired competencies of the modules of a qualification or part qualification will be exempted for modules through RPL.
  • Learners will be awarded credits for or towards the qualification or part qualification through RPL as provided in the QCTO RPL Policy. RPL for credits provides for the formal award of credits for, or towards a qualification or part-qualification registered on the NQF.

    RPL for access to the external integrated summative assessment:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces must apply the internal assessment criteria specified in the related curriculum document to establish and confirm prior learning. Accredited providers and workplaces must confirm prior learning by issuing a statement of result.

    Entry Requirements:
  • NQF Level 2 qualification. 


    This part-qualification is made up of compulsory Knowledge, Practical Skills and Work Experience Modules:
    Knowledge Modules
  • 661201-001-00-KM-01 Basic Music Notation for both Steelpan and Marimba Making, Level 2, 8 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-KM-02 History of Percussion Instruments, Level 3, 2credits.
  • 661201-001-00-KM-03 Safety, Health, Environment and Risks, Level 2, 2 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-KM-04 Materials for and Construction of Mallets, Level 1, 1 Credit.
  • 661201-001-00-KM-05 Materials Used for Marimba Making, Level 2, 2 credits.
  • 661201-001-00-KM-06 The Design and Components of a Marimba, Level 4, 4 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-KM-07 Tools, Equipment and Measuring Instruments, Level 3, 2 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-KM-08 Tuning of the Marimba, Level 4, 8 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-KM-09 Tools, Equipment and Measuring Instruments for Tuning of a Marimba, Level 2,
    2 Credits.

    Total number of credits for Knowledge Modules: 31

    Practical Skill Modules
  • 661201-001-00-PM-01 Operate Machines and Use Hand Tools for Marimba Making, Level 2, 8 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-PM-02 Make a Marimba According to a Design, Level 3, 8 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-PM-03 Inspect and Repair Marimbas to Original State, Level 3, 8 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-PM-04 Tune a Marimba according to Requirements of the Octave, Level 4, 16 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-PM-05 Make Mallets for Various Percussion Instruments, Level 1, 4 Credits.

    Total number of credits for Practical Skill Modules: 44

    Work Experience Modules
  • 661201-001-00-WM-02 Marimba Making, Level 3, 8 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-WM-03 Marimba Repair, Level 3, 8 Credits.
  • 661201-001-00-WM-04 Marimba Tuning, Level 4, 24 Credits.

    Total number of credits for Work Experience Modules: 40 

    1. Tune fundamental and overtones of tuned percussion instruments according to the requirements of the musical scale of the instrument (marimba)
    2. Measure, cut and assemble and repair marimbas to comply with the requirements of the musical scale, design and/or technical drawing.
    3. Apply knowledge of the influence of the mallet on the performance of the instrument when making mallets for use with various percussion instruments. 

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of acoustic and music notation principles when tuning the percussion instruments.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the importance of accuracy and precision when tuning the instrument.
  • Turn the tones and overtones of a marimba according to the requirements of the octave and character of the instrument design.
  • Solve problems related to the tuning, e.g. relative rates of vibration (ratios), or considerable variations of each piece of wood.
  • Solve problems related to the affixing of the resonator pipes and the resonance achieve, to achieve the required scale.
  • Use woodwork equipment to shape the tone plate.
  • Use an electronic tuning device and auditory sense to tune the musical instrument.
    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • Interpret a marimba design and/or technical drawing, taking all dimensions and measures into account.
  • Cut tone plates, prepare to precision and finish following the instructions on the diagram and table.
  • Cut and assemble the frames holding the tone plates ensuring stability of the musical instrument applying woodwork skills.
  • Measure Resonators, cut to precision, prepare and attach to the frame ensuring amplification of the sound.
  • Care for and maintain a marimba to ensure character and preserve voices.
  • Repair a marimba to original state ensuring original character and preserve voices and the colour matches.
  • Use woodwork hand tools and machines skilfully in compliance with safety procedures.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 3:
  • Identify the purpose and specific musical instrument, for which the mallet is intended.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge of the use of mallets as integral melodic and harmonic part of the music.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge of the many factors such as size and shape of the mallet head, the material used, the density of the material, the flexibility or non-flexibility of the mallet shafts, and the influence of the musical instrument on performance.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge of the effect of various types of materials on the resulting hardness/softness of the mallet head.
  • Select suitable raw material for mallet components based on the intended purpose and performance of musical instrument.
  • Produce a set of mallets that create the correct sound and enhances the performance of the specific musical instrument.
  • Resolve the problems related to the flexibility of the shaft, hardness/softness and shape of the head to produce the desired sound.

    Integrated Assessment:
    Integrated Formative Assessment:
    The skills development provider will use the curriculum to guide them on the stipulated internal assessment criteria and weighting. They will also apply the scope of practical skills and applied knowledge as stipulated by the internal assessment criteria. This formative assessment together with work experience leads to entrance in the integrated external summative assessment.

    Integrated Summative Assessment:
    An external integrated summative assessment, conducted through the relevant QCTO Assessment Quality Partner is required for the issuing of this qualification. The external integrated summative assessment will focus on the exit level outcomes and associated assessment criteria.

    The external integrated summative assessment will be conducted through a theoretical assessment and the evaluation of practical tasks at decentralised approved assessment sites in a simulated environment and conducted by an assessor(s) registered with the relevant AQP. 

    The Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner was compared with a qualification from Australia and the best practices from Yamaha, Japan respectively. Yamaha is a world-renowned leader in the manufacturing of marimbas and xylophones and is recognised for best practices.

    The Australian Certificate III in Musical Instrument Making and Repair and the Certificate IV in Musical Instrument Making and Repair is presented by the Northern College of the Arts & Technology (Australia) as a combined program stretching over two years. The Northern College of the Arts and Technology is a member of the Inner Melbourne Vocational Education and Training (VET) cluster. The qualification is presented as a part time course over a period of 2 years. The study mode is "face to face".

    The aim of this qualification is to provide the skills and knowledge for a musical instrument maker to design, make, and repair quality musical instruments. The course itself entails an extensive Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) program incorporating theory and workshop induction. Learners are expected to complete 80 hours of work experience. In terms of the theory and workshop learning, learners must achieve 9 core units which include:
  • Use furniture finishing sector hand and power tools.
  • Construct jigs and fixtures.
  • Read and interpret work documents.
  • Assemble instrument components
  • Participate in environmentally sustainable work practices.
  • Work safely.
  • Make measurements.
  • Communicate in the workplace.
  • Work in a team.

    In addition to the above core units, a selection of 16 elective units must be achieved. Students will build various instruments, such as an electric guitar neck, a Cajon (percussion instrument), a xylophone, maintain a snare drum and a clarinet, make a flageolet, a traverse flute and an electric slide guitar. This is followed in the second year with building a tenor ukulele, a tenor acoustic guitar and a solid body electric guitar. These electives include several woodwork units such as assemble instrument components, but also refer to the context of application of woodwork skills and include:
  • Manufacture percussion instruments.
  • Repair percussion instruments.
  • Manufacture acoustic guitars.
  • Manufacture brass instruments.
  • Manufacture electric guitars.
  • Manufacture special stringed instruments.
  • Manufacture stringed instruments.
  • Repair brass instruments.
  • Repair woodwind instruments.

    Both qualifications include Level 3 and 4 (part) qualifications and include theoretical, practical skills and work experience components. Both qualifications include knowledge and skills related to building, repairing, maintaining and tuning musical instruments.

    The Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner prepares learners to build, repair, maintain and tune marimbas and steelpans. The Australian program includes a wide range of instruments.

    A second comparison was drawn with the best practices and standards from Japan. Yamaha, Japan, is revered for its best practices and exceptionally high standard in terms of the manufacturing of musical instruments and in this case, the Marimba. Yamaha offers an open-source online guide for the making of marimbas. This guide entails:
  • Origins of the marimba.
  • Structure including the inside and outside resonator pipes.
  • The craft of designing of the tone plates, tone plate sanding and pitch.
  • Material of the resonator pipes.
  • Making of the marimba including tuning the tone plates, achieving uniform character, painting and assembling, checking the sound.
  • Types of mallets and mallet selection.
  • Care and maintenance of the tone plates, Care and maintenance of the resonator pipes, Care and maintenance of the tone plate suspension cords.
    The guide on best practices made available online by Yamaha gives guidance on all aspects included in the Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner.

    The Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner is a recognised national qualification (upon registration on the National Qualifications Framework) while the Yamaha online guide is considered a guide on best practices in the making of the Marimba. This guide on best practices is specific to the making and tuning of marimbas whereas the Occupational Certificate: Tuned Percussion Instrument Maker includes a Part Qualification on steelpan making and tuning.

    The above-mentioned countries compare well to the Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner. The similarities and differences in both cases incorporate best practices and standards relevant to the South African qualification. 

    This qualification allows possibilities for both vertical and horizontal articulation.

    Horizontal Articulation:
  • Further Education and Training Certificate: Performing Arts, NQF Level 4.

    Vertical Articulation:
  • Diploma in Contemporary Music; NQF Level 5.
  • Higher Certificate in Performing Arts, NQF Level 5. 

  • NOTES 
    Qualifying for External Assessment:
    To qualify for an external assessment, learners must provide proof of completion of all required knowledge and practical modules by means of statements of results and a record of completed work experience.

    Additional Legal or Physical Entry Requirements:
  • Not deaf.
  • Physical ability to operate woodwork and other machines.

    Criteria for the Accreditation of Providers:
    Accreditation of providers will be done against the criteria as reflected in the relevant curriculum on the QCTO website.

    The curriculum title and code are: Occupational Certificate: Marimba Tuner: 661201-001-00-01.

    Encompassed Trades:
    This qualification encompasses the following trades as recorded on the NLRD:
  • This is not a trade qualification.

    Assessment Quality Partner:
    Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). 


    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.