The Ministry of Education as part of its Education month activity hosted ‘Amity’- a schools steelband presentation held at the Botanical Gardens on Sunday last.
The event saw participation from thirteen of the 24 schools that have steel orchestras nationally. The activity’s venue created the ideal setting for the early afternoon event, the Benab which was encircled by the steel bands. The benab served as accommodation for the audience; that included the Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana Professor Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, Chief Education officer (CEO) Marcel Hutson as well as other music enthusiasts.
Addressing the gathering before the sweet sound of steel pans took center stage, CEO Hutson noted that one of the aims of the activity was to ensure that the education system churns out rounded individuals.
It was against this backdrop that the CEO pointed to the importance of the Ministry of Education (MOE) promoting music in schools nationally. It was Hutson’s belief that music plays an important role in a child’s development.
The educator noted too that this artform improves children’s language skills as well as their abilities to reason. Further, the CEO said that students’ development is accelerated with music. He said that music causes students to become discipline while simultaneously improving self-confidence and their ability to communicate effectively.
The end of the CEO’s remarks gave way for the thrust of the afternoon’s proceedings— the sweet sound of steel pan music for which Dolphin Secondary School with its 20-member contingent set the stage.
Smartly attired in red and black waistcoats, the band members engaged in unison drumming out inspirational gospel pieces, ‘I know who I am’ along with ‘I shall not suffer’. Their ten minutes presentation ended with the national song ‘I want to build’ even as members from other bands gathered around cheering and singing along in support. The spirit of brotherhood was clearly evident and those that gathered at the scenic venue were clearly having a good time.
Six bands followed Dolphin Secondary in what was the first segment of the programme, one primary school which was North Georgetown Primary and four secondary schools namely St Rose High; West Demerara; Lodge; President’s College and Queen’s College. All the schools gave an admirable account of themselves with vibrant performances that captivated the audience who sang along, tapped their feet and danced even as the melodies of this unique artform mingled with the sounds of the animals and birds nearby creating a sweet mixture of a musical symphony.
Though all the performers offered a good account of themselves the stars of this segment were President’s College. This small contingent was energetic and they played melodiously in unison dishing out songs such as ‘I can treat you better’, ‘leave me alone’ among the pieces rendered. As they entertained the now gyrating crowd, they had the grooves themselves as those in attendance sang loudly to what was being played.
The afternoon’s highlight was the second segment which featured The Bishops’ High, Mahaicony, and North Ruimveldt Secondary along with Buxton Steel Orchestra and Pan Wave.
This segment commenced with The Bishops’ High School setting the bar as a tough act to follow drumming out the pop rendition ‘Get lucky’, followed up by ‘Phenomenal’ ‘Kush Kush Hota Hai’; ‘Suhani Raat’ and a range of other popular music that had the crowd rocking to the vibes.
The schools that followed had their work ‘cut out’ and much to the obvious delight of the sizeable crowd, Buxton Steel Orchestra lit up the proceedings with the performance of the afternoon. Songs such as ‘single’, a medley of folk songs, in addition to a Latin piece ‘Spanish eyes’ ensured that the diversity of music played was well received by the now very vociferous crowd.
The band’s popularity with the crowd ensured that they had more performance time than the allotted 10 minutes.
Closing the show was North Ruimveldt Secondary and they did so in an equally energetic manner, the band members gyrated continuously, even as night fell upon the venue.
They played songs such as the soca hit ‘single’ which was a popular choice with most of the bands and a number of other popular renditions. At the event’s end the Ministry’s objective of this special activity as an annual feature was much celebrated. The event was designed to create a common platform for the exhibiting of skills of students in the steelpan artform and it is geared a promoting an atmosphere of friendship, love, peace and tolerance among all Guyanese.
Education month is being celebrated under the theme “Promoting Wellness in Communities Through Quality Education”.