Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Students show training, development

Published:Friday | June 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMMichael Reckord/Gleaner Writer
Jevaughn Jones playing his guitar.
Janoy Ellis (left) watches Shadeeka Daughma as she plays her acoustic guitar.
An illustration by Leighton Estick mounted in the amphitheatre at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts for the School of Arts’ show.
Alexandra Barnett on stage.
Alicia Taylor (left) and Zhayna France challenge each other in song.

Last month, the public was able to see many fine, free shows by performance students at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA). From the schools of dance, music and drama, they are due to graduate this year or next year.

Saturday, June 2, saw the opening of the three-week exhibition by School of the Visual Arts' final-year students. Forty students have mounted displays in painting, visual communication, fashion, textiles and fibre arts, photography, and print-making. The work of the art education students is what the school's dean, Miriam Smith, calls "an innovative learning space".

While I missed the School of Dance shows, the first set done by the performing arts schools' students, I saw a number of the presentations by the School of Music students in mid-May. On May 14, at the School of Music, in Beyond My Limits, guitarist Jevaughn Jones demonstrated the musical skills gained over the past three years. His mother told me he taught himself to play so he could get into the EMCVPA, and, on stage, Jones spoke of the "rough times" he had preparing for the show. Earlier that night, he told the audience, the laptop with his music samples had crashed.




The following night, Zhayna France, a member of Ashe for the past two years, sparkled in Puncinella, which earned her sustained applause. Her proud lecturer, June Lawson, opined to me, "She's ready for the world." For Exodus the next night, guitarist Shadeeka Daughma invited a number of guest performers, one being Janoy Ellis, who sang while she accompanied him on her acoustic guitar. Daughma told the audience she started at EMCVPA way back in 2013 and had to do "a lot of work". It clearly paid off as her guitar playing was excellent.

On May 16, it was singer Alexandra Barnett's turn on stage at the Vera Moody Concert Hall. Her own composition, My Name, is a song about the importance of faith and belief in a higher power. In her obligatory vote of thanks, Barnett said she was particularly grateful to for the help given by her lecturer, Lawson, whom she called "a second mother".

After the performance, I learned from Lawson that she tutored four of the third-year students who had concerts this year. All started with her three years ago, and she found it "inspiring" that, despite some financial problems, there were no dropouts.

Lawson expressed concern that the young women would probably have difficulty making a living in Jamaica as singers though they are all talented. One received five scholarships towards her bachelor of music degree.