By Ronald Taylor
Many may be unaware of the existence of the National School of Music. However, the institute continues to serve Guyana in an upbeat way.
When I recently stepped into the National School of Music, I knew it would have been a memorable experience.
The National School of Music was established in 2011, and managed by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport. It was projected to be a base of music development and an important component of the nation’s overall traditions.
Located at Brickdam and Old College Road, Georgetown, the National School of Music, houses six classrooms, a performance auditorium, a steel band studio and a storage room to hold musical instruments and related equipment.
Its main objective is to provide a range of services, knowledge and skills for talented Guyanese interested in various forms of music and musical instruments. Individuals who have an interest to make music their life’s career will be accommodated at the institution.
Administrator of the National School of Music, Mr. Andrew Tyndall told Kaieteur News that the school’s first curriculum began in March 2012 with a batch of 20 students.
They were prepared for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) Grade 2 Exam. They gained a 100 percent pass rate inclusive of eleven distinctions and one credit at the June 2012 examination period.
The school initially offered two courses, the Beginner class (Grades 1-3) and Intermediate class (Grades 3-6) which students have a scheduled four year period to complete. The school is currently making way for the advanced classes (Grades 7 and 8) all of which are ABRSM certified.
Just like the regular school curriculum, classes start in September and conclude in July. Applicants must be 14 or older and application forms can be uplifted from the school at any time but should be returned before June. Areas of study offered at the school are the electronic keyboard, guitar, drum, piano, steel pan, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, saxophone and vocals (voice training).
Classes are scheduled in a timely manner from Monday to Friday between 17:00hrs to 19:30hrs, and also require additional practice sessions at home.
The school has an annual intake of 65. Quite a few students have dropped out because of the intense nature of the course.
Nevertheless, those who remained continue to excel.
The institution provides the instruments for the students, but as a requirement of personal growth each individual should have their own equipment.
Each year the school hosts an annual ‘summer’ camp. This year, 350 students from various Regions attended.
Mr. Tyndall noted that the school had additionally implemented a National Steel Orchestra, hosted many concerts, workshops and various Outreach Programmes.
Recently implemented is an after School Programme which allows students between the ages of eight to 14, to study the piano, guitar and steel pan.
The administration is working to establish a satellite programme at the Port Mourant Secondary School, Region Six before the end of 2016. A similar outreach programme will be done in Region Ten. The key objectives of the sessions are to train and maintain music education, and re-implement music into the school curriculum.
A number of professionals came to support the development of music in the school. They included Mr. Adelino Mota and Mr. Robert Houlihan, who are European Orchestra Conductors.
They have assisted the Guyana Defence Force Orchestra, National Steel Orchestra and the Woodside Choir.
During the 50th Jubilee Celebration “Music Concert Series” Guyanese musician, Mr. Paul Cort, who has a master’s degree in vocal performances and recitals held a workshop for singers.
Dr. Ray Luck, world renowned Guyanese pianist and educator will be hosting a piano pedagogy workshop and recital in the latter part of 2016.
This year the administration took a decision to purchase two Steinway Pianos. The pianos were presented to the Minister within the Ministry of Education, Hon. Nicolette Henry. The Steinway Model D Concert Grand piano will be used for public and national events at the National Cultural Centre while the Steinway K52 Upright Piano will be used at the National School of Music for classical piano classes.
In keeping with the requirements of a music school, the institute plans to add a Recording Studio. With the establishment of the studio, a sound productions course will be offered to help in the field of stage performance.
In the expansion of the school’s curriculum in 2017, an Electronic Music Production course will be offered, where by individuals who are technologically equipped, will be able to express their skills and talent.
Tyndall stated that since the classes are of such a peculiar time, highly qualified individuals, to teach music at the school, are recruited and selected from seasoned teachers and from the Military Bands.
The school is also tasked with running the National Steel Band Panorama and the National Choral Festival.
The institute is greatly funded by the budget of the Central Government. Apart from funding, earlier this year, the school had received support from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) whereby six months piano pedagogy training was offered.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has been on board supporting the steel band and masquerade programmes.
In the future of the school’s existence the Minister, Hon. Nicolette Henry would like to see the execution of a National Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Persons interested in starting classes for the new academic year 2017 can contact the schools Director Mr. Andrew Tyndall or Assistant Director Mr. Javier Marks on telephone number +592-227-3406 and email address [email protected] .
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