Marley Music Room Opened
The Marley Music Room, which will benefit students from under-resourced communities in the Corporate Area, was officially opened in an intimate ceremony at the GraceKennedy/Parade Gardens Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Centre on Water Lane, recently.
The ceremony was attended by several government officials including the Minister of Education, Ruel Reid, the and former minister, reverend Ronald Thwaites.
Reid, who was the evening's keynote speaker, praised the Marley foundation and GraceKennedy for the work they have been doing to ensure that the nation's rich musical legacy is preserved by imparting knowledge to youth.
"It's very fascinating what's happening ..., this great collaboration," he said. "We talk about early stimulation and development and how important it is to get an early start. music is so powerful for our young people."
The minister also pointed out that as a key component in the country's cultural build-up, music should be taken more seriously in schools across the island. Reid lamented that based on the country's colonial influences, music and sport have not been accepted in the mainstream educational system as much as it should be.
"We have not accepted, and probably denied even, our African heritage so much that sport and music have not been generally accepted as worthy of emulation in mainstream education, and yet it's so natural to us," he said. "This is an opportunity for us to validate this aspect of our culture so that every school in Jamaica can have music as part of the strategy to infect our education system. Children learn through different approaches and means. A child who might be slow in math or science may very well excel in music, and so the smart teacher will use that love for music to excite that child's interest in other subjects."
James Moss-Solomon, chairman of the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, echoed the minister's sentiments.
"There is a relevance and a relationship between science and music. Developing the students' musical abilities can also lead to a better understanding of mathematical concepts and a deeper appreciation of the sciences, which is what we are trying to achieve at the STEM Centre," he said.
Marie Bruce, general manager of the Bob Marley Foundation, spoke about how the initiative came to life, saying that the idea was the brainchild of Cedella Marley, daughter of the late reggae legend, Bob Marley.
"This project was all made possible through faith. Cedella called me one day and said, 'Marie, we need to build music schools', and a few days after that, I got an email from Grace," she said. "When we met, it was just magical. They had similar goals and visions and everything kind of just fell into place."
The Marley Music Room creates opportunities for children, who may not get those opportunities elsewhere, including those children who are already part of the GraceKennedy/Parade Gardens STEM Centre's homework programme. Equipped with a variety of musical instruments, from guitars to drums to keyboards and recorders, the facility was furnished at a cost of approximately $1.5 million and is a project brought to fruition through a partnership between The Bob Marley Foundation and the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, the outreach arm of the GraceKennedy Group.
The freshly opened music facility aims to develop the musical skills of the children who will use the facility. Music lessons will be administered by the Alpha Institute and discussions have begun with the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts to identify ways in which it could also contribute.