CARIBBEAN MUSIC EDUCATION
By Roger Gibbs
"Children go to school and learn well
Otherwise, later on in life they go catch real hell"
Thus sang Slinger Francisco, the Grenada-born King of Calypso. Never more true than today. So what exactly are we teaching our children when it comes to Music?
Barbados is a small Caribbean nation, one of the family of small island nations of the Eastern Caribbean, a region rich in music and musical talent. The musical heritage of this unique region springs primarily from the creative exchange between peoples who originated in Africa and the European peoples who colonized the Caribbean, in Barbados's case, the British.
Centuries of creolization, inter-island exchange and cross-cultural musical influences has given each of our a neighboring island nations unique musical traditions AND shared musical traditions.
For instance, while tukband is a musical form that is very Bajan, a very similar style of traditional drumming is also found in other islands like St. Kitts and Nevis. Calypso is a 200+ year old musical genre with deep roots across the Eastern Caribbean, even as it is deemed Trinidadian.
In other words, the Eastern Caribbean countries share a musical heritage because they have had such profound influences on each other. We are family in a music sense. This became abundantly clear to me since living in Toronto and working with musicians from all over the Caribbean.
Looking at Music Education of children in Barbados, IMHO there's a pressing need to create a primary school music curriculum that reflects this reality. We are responsible for passing on to our children the knowledge of those who went before us. This means taking a hard look at the musical ideas and concepts we teach our children and making sure that it gives them some of the most precious gifts of all - a strong Bajan/Caribbean identity and the creativity to overcome life's obstacles. Music is powerful tool to do this.