Enhancing youth development through music

A National School Orchestral and Stage Band Championship was officially launched last week Thursday in an effort to pave the way for further development of the entertainment and performing arts industry in the country.

Simon Green, Director of SP’s International gives overview of the inaugural Championship

Simon Green, Director of SP’s International gives overview of the inaugural Championship

The inaugural event, which took place at the Coyaba Beach Resort in Grand Anse is a joint effort between SP’s International Trading Ltd., one of the leading suppliers of musical instruments in the country, and the ministries of Culture and Education.

Organisers regard the championship as pivotal in helping to achieve higher standards of music learning and development within the school system and the ultimate goal of providing more opportunities for the country’s youth.

Chairman of the proceedings, Marketing Manager at SP’s International, O’Neal Peters spoke about the value of music and the many benefits that can be derived from it.

Director of SP’s International Simon Green, who expressed the view that music is one of those things within human nature that creates “the soul in our being” and “connects us to senses and experiences that biology alone cannot provide for our survival”.

“…Right here in our tri-island state we have an untapped resource that many times we don’t get to nurture and grow and eventually benefit from,” he said.

“When we empower our children with the musical gift, the sky is the limit. We have young men and women today who play on cruise ships around the world from little villages like Birchgrove (St. Andrew) and Corinth in St. David, and if they were not given the opportunity to play music, maybe their lives would be totally different,” he added.

Green pointed out that the island has some world class persons who play music who started off on the island.

“And so…we thought as a good corporate citizen and as people (who are) interested in our development, this is something that we must lead,” Green said while commending the participating ministries for coming on board with the initiative.

Curriculum Development Officer in the Ministry of Education Daisy Hazzard, who declared the championship open said, it would take at least one year to get the band players up to the standard level of performance, with the first championship being planned for execution “sometime in the end of May to June next year”.

In an interview with THE NEW TODAY following the launch, Senior Cultural Officer in the Ministry of Culture, Adrian Mark, said though, it would be somewhat challenging to get the young musicians prepared to compete in just 1 year, “it would not be a daunting task.”

Mark, who is the supervisor of all music programmes associated with the ministry, said that the department has a school orchestra programme where, “at the end of three years the children are expected to be playing with (what is referred to) as level three,” or medium playing experience.

“Within one year it would be a challenge but there are some children who would take the music very easily and can propel very quickly…a lot of things can happen,” he added.

According to Simon Green, public exhibitions are also being planned ahead of the actual event.

“We are going to be having some public exhibitions starting as early as May 2016, then one again towards December 2016 and through(out) the year we will be engaging other corporate citizens, musicians, volunteers, people who have let their musical talents fall asleep for a little while.

“We are going to wake it up a little bit and get them to get involved in schools and start passing on the gift of music.

Student musicians from the Wesley College Music Centre provide entertainment during the official launch of the National School Orchestral and Stage Band Championship last week Thursday

Student musicians from the Wesley College Music Centre provide entertainment during the official launch of the National School Orchestral and Stage Band Championship last week Thursday

One of the attendees, Roger Williams hailed the initiative as one that would strengthen the music industry on the island.

“This is a long awaited move (because) the music industry is actually suffering…Once you have a move like this, it means that you would be strengthening from the roots up, the base from the schools, the primary and secondary.

“That’s where you lay the foundation because when the seniors decide to retire who we going to sit down and watch, who is going to entertain us – it’s the same youths that are going to grow up to be adults.

Williams who is involved in the performing arts industry, reiterated the need for more musicians to get involved to ensure that the initiative is a success.

“…This move now takes them out of that shell to go and share it (their skills and knowledge), pass it on to the youths.”

Another attendee, entertainer Kelson Ogiste, from the soca duo Luni Spark & Electrify echoed Williams’ sentiments stating “some of our great musicians are in church so they don’t get involved in some of our activities.”

He pleaded for the policy makers to introduce music in the school curriculum, having “noticed the influence of music and how our youths today are gravitating to music on a whole.”

The entertainer felt that music could be channeled in the various subject areas, which can encourage remarkable results.

“…In Trinidad, they (students) learn music in school, it’s in the curriculum in schools so that someone could finish school and have a musical talent, they can play any instrument, and they can go on tour and make a living out of that”, he said.

According to Culture Minister Brenda Hood, Grenada launched a music programme in the schools in 2000 but Hurricane Ivan damaged most of the instruments in 2004.

Sen. Hood who witnessed the launch of the inaugural event is optimistic that it would be a success.
Research has shown that the music is the fastest growing industry in the world.

According to a Stanford University study, learning music facilitates learning in other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas.

Students who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and are more advanced in reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.

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