Last update: 10-Dec-2013 1:42 am
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Potential shows at pan music school
Students graduating from Potential Symphony Steel Orchestra’s Music School in the Community project sponsored by the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism on September 13, looked ready to take on the world.
During the ceremony at the band’s Upper Sixth Avenue, Malick, Barataria facility, the 40 graduates—smartly dressed and focused on the mission—delivered their brand of instrumental magic.
The applause from parents, guardians and well-wishers was much more than a mere show of kindness and support for the young entertainers in the spotlight.
The audience was impressed by the students who not only displayed their ability on the pan, but on a range of brass instruments too. Course facilitators were equally as excited, citing that the end product was a representation of their input.
There were guest performances by musicians Kern Sumerville and 2013 Trinbago Kids Got Talent winners Deja and Dejean Cain. They bolstered the evening’s production.
The graduation followed 12 weeks of intense, but most times fun classes in the second semester of the project (between June 10 and August 31), under the direction of programme facilitator Carlon Harewood. Instructors were Akua Leith, Jenna James, Income Alexander, Nicholas Jaggasar, Nigel Smith and Joseph Ward.
Each camp had an icon-in-residence. Potential Symphony opted for celebrated musician Leston Paul.
But, it turned out that the camp and the subsequent graduation ceremony and presentation of certificates, might have actually been the easy part of the project, judging from the revelations of director of culture Ingrid Ryan Ruben.
“Those of us who work in Government and who work in this particular area of Government—culture…we struggle to get support for our ideas and for the programmes that we develop. We want to see schools in every single community in T&T but in order for that to become a reality, the Government, the people have to hear more than our voices.
“We have been working hard. We thought that by this time we would have had 20 schools. Of course, we did all the work that was necessary, but we couldn’t convince the powers that be. So we have six schools,” she said.
Ryan Ruben appealed to parents and supporters to raise their voices in support of the programme. She advised Potential Symphony and other stakeholders to inform the authorities of the programme’s success.
“You don’t have to write it on a placard or block the road. All you need to do is write a note. Please tell Potential Symphony to write a report saying this has worked for us!”
Projects of this scope and human impact, she said, could not be validated by public servants, but rather by the stakeholders who actually attained the benefits.
It was with that tangible support that the evidence that communities wanted such a programme that gave the political directorate the impetus to advance and expand it, she pointed out.
Apart from Potential’s programme, approvals were received for only five similar projects this year. The others were: Casablanca (Belmont), Skiffle (San Fernando), Exodus (St Augustine), Cordettes (Sangre Grande) and Joylanders (Couva).
Ryan Ruben lauded the vision of former cultural officer Auburn Wiltshire, pointing out that the music school in panyard initiative was “his baby” and when the project was being realised, he ensured it came to the place where it was birthed.
It took a lot of doing to start and successfully complete the first semester Ryan-Ruben recalled. Implementing the second semester was not as onerous, she said, relieved.
“When we conceptualised this programme, one of our objectives was to bring literacy to the panyard. After we completed the first semester we were looking for how many panyards demonstrated literacy with the steelpan.
“We wanted to see us do that from a music sheet. Some people rose to the occasion. That was the challenge we threw out to the schools when we come to the place where our young people who love to play music and particularly love the steelpan, can play any song from the language of the world, which is what music is. Then we are ready for the world.”
Of the steelband’s effort she said, “Potential Symphony Music School in the Community is getting ready. They are getting all their children ready for being ready to speak the language of the world. When this spreads in our community, what we are spreading is something that is positive.”
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