The decision to establish a National School of Music is a welcome development. Such a school has long been needed to foster the development of the finer arts. This, when coupled with the drama training which was launched a few years ago, will help Guyana to nurture the musical potential of its people.
As recent talent shows have revealed, this talent is often raw and in need of polishing. The establishment of a school of music will aid not only those with good-sounding voices but also those who are keen on playing the various musical instruments. More fundamentally, it will ground our talented musicians in the theory of music, something that many of them do not know at the moment.
This can only produce better musicians. There are of course those who feel that it would be better to concentrate on individuals with potential. According to this view, you either have it or do not have it. This viewpoint is however outdated thinking. Those who have it today are those who took the time and effort to develop their talents and long gone are the days when only a select few, mainly from the country’s middle class, were afforded the opportunity to have it.
Many countries, the most notable of which has been Jamaica, have converted the talents of the poor and turned these artistes who would have otherwise been disadvantaged into international superstars. If Jamaica had adopted the adage about developing only those “who had it”, then that country would not have been producing the large number of international superstars that it is presently turning out.
The entertainment industry, of course, has long been touted locally as a money spinner. It is has often been said that once this industry is developed it can earn more foreign exchange than some of our major industries. So the economic possibilities have long been recognized, but until now, very few practical steps have been taken.
In the past, Guyanese were promised a recording studio. Year after year, this promise was being made but nothing ever materialized. Today there are a number of small recording studios in Guyana but not very many productions are being made. Part of the problem of course is the cost of making music and the prohibitive cost of marketing but as Guyana’s artistes become better known, it is going to become worth the while for local productions.
The establishment of a musical school is therefore a start in the right direction. It will hone the talents of our young musical artistes and allow them opportunities that they never had.
Obtaining the resources to operate such a school is not going to be easy. The money is obviously there, but there is a need to bring in the best resources in order to assist the students. In addition, the theoretical aspect of the school’s teaching will need to be examined carefully to ensure that they meet international standards. As mentioned before, a musical school is not just about helping people to sing and play instruments. It is also ensuring that they are versed in the theory of music at the various levels.
One of the main challenges that will face this school is how to reach out to the far flung areas of the country where many individuals have the interest, but there are very few opportunities available. It is important that this school of music be truly national in scope, and that persons from all walks of life are able to gain the opportunity to develop themselves musically.
Music is not a cheap profession. Instruments are very costly, and many a poor family can hardly afford to buy a guitar much less a keyboard. Here the school will face some important challenges. On the one hand, there will be the temptation to provide the disadvantaged with instruments that they cannot afford. But there is the downside to this position, wherein persons should not become too dependent on the state. There needs to be a balance, in which persons are given support until such time as they can acquire their own instruments.
A good start has been made. Guyana has moved beyond the promises of the past. Something is now in the pipeline and it should be allowed to develop and become a truly national institution.
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