Wed | Mar 20, 2019

Regional trainers benefit from OASIS workshop

Published:Wednesday | January 26, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Inner-city children learning to sing at St Andrew Technical High School. - Photos by Ian Allen/Photographer
Michelle Braham is all smiles as she deals with the children at the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica choir practice at St Andrew Technical High School. Ian Allen/Photographer
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Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer

Last week, instructors from predominantly Latin America and trainers from Haiti, St Lucia and Jamaica were involved in an intense week-long workshop held at the newly constructed Jamaica Social Investment Fund multi-purpose complex in Trench Town.

The three Caribbean nations, through their respective groups: the Organisation of American States (OAS) Marchand Youth Orchestra Programme in St Lucia, OASIS: Music for Social Change Haiti and the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ) are participants in the OAS orchestra programme for social development through classical music.

The Gleaner spoke with some of the stakeholders at their closing event titled The OASIS Caribbean Concert held at the Courtleigh Auditorium on Saturday.

Marinao Vales from OAS, while applauding the progress being made by the NYOJ, explained the purpose of the workshop.

"One was to give the teachers technical weapons, the instructors were taught methods on how to teach their instrument - step-by-step methods on how to teach a particular instrument; and the other part was the technical part - how to play each instrument and how to play together. Overall, it was the training of trainers," he said.

Good workshop

The participants believed the workshop was good.

Caleb Georges and Lenford Eugene from St Lucia found the workshop inspiring.

According to Eugene, a double-base player, many new things about his instrument were just being revealed to him. Some of the benefits for him were "basic techniques such as how to hold the instrument and how to get better sound out of the instrument."

While Georges, who plays the viola, explained that currently the programme in St Lucia only included string instruments.

Bernier Anderson, a clarinet specialist from Haiti, said the workshop was a good thing as it brought people with common interests together. He further stated that the Haitian orchestra programme began in December 2009, just a little more than a month before a devastating earthquake hit the country.

Doing well

But in spite of the unfavourable attention from Mother Nature, the programme is doing well.

"you may lose everything (meaning material things) but if you have your mind and your music you have everything," he said, philosophically, about the tragedy that befell his country.

Jamaican bandmasters Albert Shaun Hird (flute) and Ann McNamee (viola) also believed the workshop was a success. For Hird, a trained flautist and currently one of the NYOJ trainers, he learned about "different teaching methods that will help younger kids; and techniques such as fingering of the flute; and how to develop your reading skills." He also described the workshop as intense, as it ran from 10:00 am - 10:00 p.m.

An obviously excited McNamee thought the programme was great and shared some of what she has learned from Maria del Rosario Osorio from Colombia.

"She taught us little tricks on how to deal with little kids such as putting coloured tapes on the viola; we have only been using white tapes," she admitted. "So instead of saying top line you say red tape and so on. It makes it so much easier for the kids. And that was just one thing," she said.

The Youth Orchestra programme is a three-year programme put in place by the OAS to make social changes in the lives of inner-city children through music. And the expectation from OAS is that the orchestra programme in the three countries will eventually become sustainable. The instructors came from Uruguay, Venezuela, Panama, Colombia and Quebec.