Workshop addresses impacts of political  content in junior calypsos
March 3, 2015
Workshop addresses impacts of political content in junior calypsos

Does the inclusion of partisan political content in calypsos performed at the junior level have any impact on students’ performance?

This is one of the many questions that were addressed at a one-day workshop last Thursday, which was organized by the Ministry of Education {{more}}in collaboration with the SVG Calypso Association and the Carnival Development Corporation.

The workshop was aimed at enhancing songwriting and performance skills of primary and secondary school students.

Following one of the day’s presentations, a teacher declared that he is disturbed by some of the songs being presented at the Junior Calypso and Soca Monarch.

“One of the things in calypso for the past years that disturbs me highly is when writers choose to take their message to give the students to sing,” the teacher commented.

“By and large, the message that you tend to see coming out that way, in recent years, is the political message and that disturbs me, because most of the students that we have here, most of them don’t even have an interest in what is happening on the political landscape, unless you’re probably in fourth or fifth form.”

Similarly, education officer Marla Nanton told teachers at the workshop that there was nothing wrong with tailoring a song around the interests of the student who will perform it.

In fact, she opined that if this is done, students will be able to have a better delivery to the judges and audience.

“I think the quality of performance has a lot to do with the selection of your topic. Everything builds on that,” she said.

“I want to encourage you all to be as open-minded as possible to see how we can collectively improve the standard of writing, especially at the junior level.”

Wollis Christopher, who has been writing calypsos for students since the 1980s, told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that in his view, what affects an individual’s performance has less to do with the topic and more to do with the confidence levels.

“What I’ve noticed over the years is that not always the best songs win on the day [of the junior calypso competition]. It depends on the individual and how confident they are,” said Christopher, who has in the past, written winning songs for his daughter Kristiana “Singing Kristy” Christopher.

While he agrees that some songs may carry topics that are not age appropriate, Christopher believes that once attention is paid towards getting ready for the performance, then the delivery will be well executed.

“Whether it is something light or something political, if they are nervous, if they are not properly drilled…sometimes it could be that they didn’t have enough sessions with the band or practices at home; there are a lot of things that can affect your performance,” he said.

Christopher told SEARCHLIGHT that in order to get students ready for the competition, schools should expose their students to an audience, so that they can gain the confidence to perform well on stage.(BK)