December 18, 2009
Schools’ music programme gets a big boost

The development and expansion of the local schools’ music programme received a welcomed boost this week.

This, as members of the Barbados Youth Strings conducted musical exhibitions at a number of local primary and secondary schools.{{more}}

Joy Knight-Lynch, coordinator of the group, told SEARCHLIGHT that the aim of the project was to get children here interested in stringed instruments.

“But not only strings, but music in general, and to show them that these are young people in Barbados who are doing this thing and they really love it,” Lynch explained.

“We know that St Vincent and the Grenadines wants to start an orchestra. We wanted to come and encourage them,” she added.

She said that the Barbados Youth Orchestra usually comprises about 120 members in various sections: brass, wind and stringed instruments.

The visiting contingent contains 35 members and features the violin and cello.

The ages of the students range from as young as 7, for some of the junior players, to the early 20s for the more advanced players.

And for even the most junior players, they have been exposed to music from as early as age 3 or 4.

Lynch, who has been the director of the Youth Orchestra since 2002, said that in Barbados, there is a comprehensive music programme, which forms part of the school curriculum.

“Students start in primary schools, Class 1 to 4. By the time they reach secondary school, they are very proficient,” Lynch told SEARCHLIGHT.

“We are here to help as much as we can here in St Vincent,” Jerry Downs, coordinator of the group, said.

He said that the intention was also to share skills and to demonstrate techniques and proper playing habits.

Downs, in speaking of the positive attributes associated in a musical career, explained that there have been a number of students who have gone on to advanced stages in music education and have been involved in activities where they have been able to utilize their musical background.

John Bryan, a member of the team and an accomplished musician, said that the trip was a good way to show the Vincentian community some of the positive aspects of the knowledge of music.

“Music is good from an educational standpoint and being able to do it will build sides of your personality as well,” Bryan explained.

He is the organist of the St Michael’s Cathedral in Barbados and has been involved in music since he was 10 years old.

Geoff Venner, Education Officer for Music in the Ministry of Education, said that the response from the local students had been positive.

“We would like our students to see the finished product,” Venner said.

“We are now beginning a programme of training in stringed instruments at the Central Leeward Secondary and Bethel High School.”

Venner said that there were already violin programmes in each of those institutions.

He added that in January, the Ministry is hoping to start with schools in the Kingstown area at both the primary and secondary school levels.

Venner said that he hopes that by the end of next year there would be the establishment of an ensemble.

He explained that there were already brass instruments, saxophones, trombones and trumpets introduced into the schools, as well as some wind instruments. He said now they are getting ready to introduce strings.

He said the Bethel High School is already off the ground in this aspect and he hopes to bring in other schools such as the St Vincent Grammar School, the St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown and the Thomas Saunders Secondary.

Venner also said that he expects that as more persons go off to be trained in the area of music that the programme would be further enhanced.

Meanwhile, the general public will have had the opportunity to see the Barbadian Youth String Symphony perform today, Friday, at the Nine Mornings festivities in Kingstown, and then in concert tomorrow, Saturday, at the Kingstown Seventh Day Adventist Church, beginning at 4 pm. (DD)