On a musical crescendo - Sixty students graduate from FFP’s Summer Band Camp
Inspiring music from 60 instruments filled Ellerslie Pen in Spanish Town, home of Food For The Poor (FFP) Jamaica, on August 21, when graduates from the annual Food For The Poor Summer Band Camp displayed their musical skills before proud relatives and community members.
The four-week summer programme attracted 60 students from age 12 to 16, who learned to play their favourite musical instruments under the guidance of band instructor and camp director Jeffery Brown and band instructor and veteran musician Oswald Scott, a past student of the Alpha Boys’ School.
“This is our 10th year of staging the Summer Band Camp for the youth of Ellerslie Pen and the surrounding communities,” said Sandra Ramsey of Food For The Poor Jamaica, Prison Ministry Administrator. “Over those years, more than 500 students have graduated from the programme.
During the graduation ceremony, Ramsey thanked Food For The Poor President CEO Robin Mahfood for his support of the programme. She also expressed her appreciation to Brown, who has been camp director since the programme’s inception.
Kivette Silvera of Food For The Poor Jamaica, gave a special welcome to the parents and families of the students who were graduating from the four-week band camp. “The support from the home and the community is essential for the nurturing of young talent,” she said.
Craig Moss-Solomon, also from Food For The Poor Jamaica, thanked the past graduates of the band camp (now referred to as seniors) for their assistance in training the new cohort and for passing on their knowledge and skills to the younger members of their communities.
Music veterans Errol Lee, singer and owner of The Bare Essentials Band; Frankie Campbell, owner and bass player for Fab 5; and Barry Bailey, trombonist with the Bunny Wailer Band, attended.
Lee said that he was “amazed at the quality of the performances after only 16 days of classes”, describing Brown, a member of his band, as “a genius tutor”. He was especially pleased that each student was given his or her instrument of choice to take home as a graduation gift.
“Don’t see your instrument as a trophy; it is for you to practise and develop your skills because the sky’s the limit,” Lee said.
Both Campbell and Bailey were also effusive in their praise of the young musicians by pointing out the positive relationship between doing music and performing well academically and alluding to the great future of Jamaican music thanks to the camp.
Marsha Burrell-Rose, marketing and development manager of Food For The Poor, Jamaica, was the MC of the ceremony.
She said that one of the great outcomes of the annual Summer Band Camp has been the formation of the band, whose members are graduates of the programme. She informed the appreciative audience that the band entered the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s (JCDC) Festival competition for the first time last year and that in two years, they have amassed more than 20 gold medals.
At the national finals this year, the band entered four pieces and received three trophies for Best Instrumental Piece, Best Stage Band, and Best Instrumentalist.
In the parish finals, the band submitted 17 pieces to the competition and came away with 13 gold medals, three silver medals, and one bronze medal. Three solo players from the group won individual medals in the parish finals.
“The band is expected to grow as a result of the group’s spectacular success in only their second year of participating in the JCDC performing arts competition,” Brown said.