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Talented 10-year-old tops JCDC recorder category

Published:Monday | June 17, 2019 | 12:20 AMYasmine Peru/Gleaner Writer
Gareth Stuart is congratulated by principal of Meadowbrook Preparatory School, Gloria Francis.
Gareth Stuart is congratulated by principal of Meadowbrook Preparatory School, Gloria Francis.

Gareth Stuart is the kind of 10-year-old who you can sit down and have a conversation with for hours and not be bored. Seriously, just choose a topic – from sports to academics to religion to, of course, music, which, right now is his passion – and he has quite a lot to say.

A member of the choir, the sign language group and the steel band at Meadowbrook Preparatory School in St Andrew and one of the drummers at his church, the Meadowvale Seventh-day Adventist Church, Gareth emerged the winner in the recent Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) national finals in Category 3, playing the recorder.

“I didn’t know it would have been so easy,” the young man said with humility of his win, which saw him scoring the highest marks overall in his category.

Gareth, who has been playing the recorder in earnest since October last year, was making his debut in the annual competition. As he recalls, his teacher, Mr Ozou’ne Sundalyah, told him and his classmates that all those who were interested in entering the JCDC competition should come to him after school. Gareth did, and the rest, as they say, is history.


For the auditions, Gareth explained that he did two pieces, Lullaby of Sweden and, for the section in which he could choose his own piece, Bob Marley’s iconic One Love. Then at the parish finals, he entered with Lion of Judah as his piece of choice. Gareth triumphed with gold. It was then on to the national finals for this honour-roll student, who his teacher described as “well-mannered”. He performed Lullaby of Sweden, which was unaccompanied, and Lion of Judah, which was arranged by his music teacher, who accompanied him on the keyboard.

“Gareth is a brilliant student. When I heard that he got the highest score in his category overall in the island, I was so excited. I could not believe. I have to commend him. I did not expect him to do so well, not because he doesn’t have the talent, but because he started late in terms of preparation time. This is a testimony to his discipline, dedication and willingness to follow instructions,” Sundalyah said.

This 10-year-old names his favourite genre as jazz, which he says is also his music teacher’s favourite, but when he’s at home, he listens to quite a bit of gospel. “Sometimes I just turn on the radio to a gospel station and play the piano along to the songs,” he said.

A preacher-in-the-making, Gareth has addressed a full congregation for Divine Service at his church. “It was Children’s Day, May 2018. I was told that I would have to preach, and I did,” he said simply. And he will be exploring this area of ministry more. “I am going on a missionary trip,” he told The Gleaner enthusiastically. “There are places where I could go, so I chose The Bahamas.”

Like any boy his age, he loves football and was a member of the school’s football team, which reached the quarter-finals in this year’s competition.

Now learning how to play the piano, Gareth said that as soon as his father sources a saxophone, he will be playing that instrument as well.

“My dad says playing instruments helps with your concentration, and my mom says it’s a good investment because I can play for people and earn money,” he explained.

Of his career choice, he said, “Personally, I want to become a professional musician, but I could also become a medical doctor.”