Tamara Bailey, Gleaner writer
Mandeville, Manchester:The Odeon Cineplex Theatre in Mandeville was recently transformed into an exquisite space by the Canadian-based Sybil's Music studio ensemble for their 24th year of children's performances.
The recital, 'Christmas Classics', embracing the Yuletide season, saw 66 pieces - showcased from different genres - on piano, drums, cello, violin, guitar, clarinet, alto saxophone and through voice from children aged as young as three years old up to 18 years.
Having embarked on a new way of teaching music in a technologically advanced world, director, Sybil Grant, expressed confidence in virtual learning and her plans for the future.
"The studio started in 1989 in Mandeville. we then moved to Montego Bay and Munro, where students from Hampton and Munro do lessons. Since September, we have moved from on-the-ground teaching to teaching music live online. All our teachers are in Ottawa, Canada, and all our students are out here and the rest of the world," said Grant.
"We've had some very interesting performances this year. we've had drum students who did all their training online and have received distinctions in their exams.
"The studio has had some very impressive performers over the years. for the past four years in a row, we've had the youngest child in the island getting a distinction in the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams based in London, and we've had the highest mark for piano playing from a child here in Mandeville.
"for the next five to ten years, we hope to have a full-blown orchestra, jazz band, and concert band, utilising all the talent that we have online wherever they are in the world," continued Grant.
Senior Trade Commissioner from the Canadian High Commission, Rick McElrae, who was present, lauded the efforts of the studio and expressed expectations for the Jamaican-Canadian partnership.
"I've gone to the studio and I've seen the online classes and I was a bit skeptical, saying, how does one teach music online? But it was stellar, and it was clear that the students loved it. This is the kind of innovation that Canada likes to see and in this case, the innovation comes from Jamaica and it's fantastic! I'm looking forward to more Jamaican businesses being set up in Canada and more Canadian businesses in Jamaica as we seek to move forward," said McElrea.