Caribbean

Published on June 6th, 2016 | by TandT Newsday Newspapers

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Panmen can’t get work

A Lack of music literacy is hindering steelband arrangers from getting employment and has resulted in Panorama compositions not being recorded. These were some of the concerns raised yesterday during the opening of the Music Room at the MIC Institute of Technology O’Meara Technology Centre in Arima.

Jessel Murray, University of the West Indies (UWI) senior lecturer and head of the Department for Creative and Festival Arts, in his remarks spoke about music literacy and how it impacts the people in the steelband movement.  “All musicians have to be musically literate,” he stressed.  He said for the past 30 years he has been pushing for pan players to be musically literate.  He reported that students coming from secondary schools are already musically literate.

Murray said 30 years ago steelband players had command of the instrument but no literacy and the musicians were not able to “access their independence”.  He explained that in Panorama competition players have to wait for a person to arrive in a panyard and “hand up music” and they are incapable of independent rehearsal and practice.  He said the unfortunate result of this is these compositions are discarded after Carnival.  “They only exist in pan persons’ memories,” he added.  Murray said music literacy is not only about how we input music but saving it for future generations.  He also said too many Panorama compositions were being scored by foreign nationals.

He reported that a 2000 composition by Len Boogsie Sharpe “In the Rainforest”, through which Skiffle Bunch won the International Pan Competition, was recreated in 2014. He said it was available for both local and international consumers. Murray said he “strongly” encouraged both Pan Trinbago and the Education Ministry to have music literacy.  Education Minister Anthony Garcia recalled that one of the most accomplished arrangers for Arima All Stars and Arima Golden Symphony visited him at his home and told him he cannot read music and had difficulty with getting employment.

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