Music in our high schools is a much-needed subject, especially as the demand for Jamaican music has risen since the last two Olympic Games after the resounding successes of our athletes.
Places such as Africa, Europe, and Asia have increased the demand for Jamaican music to be played on their respective airwaves.
Music should not be seen as limited to a ‘subject.’
It far exceeds that to cater to the development of practical skills such as:
- Composing and arranging
- Producing and engineering
- Studio acquisition and construction
- Development of work ethics and professional conduct
- Business management
- Stage production and transportation
- Filming and editing
Jamaican music has several forms and each form has its audience. “The Jolly Boys” which is a known Mento band over the years, has found success in Europe. Conga drumming groups from various parts of the island have been requested to travel to diverse places both on the hotel circuit and overseas.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Carib Folk Sings among others have been asked to travel abroad to take up extensive singing engagements and tours. Solo and small group acts have been asked to showcase their worth on the international stage. Our dancers have also shared the same spotlight in the world where persons have taken on our Jamaican dance moves and choreographed them into movies.
Producers, directors and film crews have been seen on various locations in the island filming scenes that capture our Jamaican music and dance. This has caused many of our dance teachers to travel abroad with our music and demonstrate to the world how they are to dance to our signature sounds.
Many of the appreciative countries have formed and groomed their own “Jamaican sounding” reggae bands are reproducing our own music on the world stage. These bands are being hired to be backing bands at worldwide events like our own “Sumfest.”
A producer told me once that due to the lack of professionalism of many of our Jamaican artistes and bands, booking agencies from abroad are quiet reluctant in utilizing certain Jamaican performers and instead show favour to overseas Jamaican sounding ones who are punctual and professional in their conduct. This is sad!
There are many school administrators in Jamaica who still do not see the value in music education and at times refuse to provide funding for programmes that can facilitate the growth and development of music. Many feel that it is a non-profit subject and the sciences are a better option for students to take. This kind of thinking I find to be flawed.
With the rising demand for Jamaican music on the world stage, our administrators should engage in research to help streamline their schools’ music programmes to capitalize on the demand, bring much needed income in our country and make their students ready for the work world.
Music in the high schools? Yes! “Let the music play!”
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