Take a bow, Dr Nigel Clarke

Friday, July 25, 2014

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JUDGING from the large turnout at Emancipation Park Wednesday night, it is clear that Jamaicans have an appreciation for classical music.

The decision, therefore, by Senator Nigel Clarke and the other organisers to add Wednesday night's free recital to what was originally a two-concert tour by the Orchestra of the Americas must be highly commended.

Attendance at the recital also displayed clearly that there exists in our country a thirst for quality entertainment and that Jamaicans can exhibit great decorum at public events.

Dr Clarke, who also chairs the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ), should also take a bow for organising a workshop with the visiting orchestra at Church on the Rock on Tuesday, as that sort of cultural exchange helps to mould character and contributes to the development of our youngsters into responsible citizens.

The NYOJ, for those who are not yet aware, runs five centres where children's lives are transformed through exposure to music, ranging from classical, to contemporary, to reggae, to folk.

The fact that the children are not required to pay for this most valuable education speaks volumes about the commitment of the NYOJ to building a better Jamaica.

For music education, as we all know, instils discipline, patience and tolerance in individuals, traits that make for better human beings and better societies.

Researchers have told us that children who are exposed to music, meaning that they learn it, do well in academics.

A 2007 study published by University of Kansas professor Christopher Johnson showed that students in American elementary schools with superior music education programmes achieved higher scores in English and Mathematics on standardised tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programmes.

This, Professor Johnson noted, was regardless of the socioeconomic disparities among the schools. Basically, what the professor did was compare the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardised test.

While we acknowledge the view held by other scientists that music does not make you smarter, what we can argue is that one of the inherent benefits of studying music is discipline.

As such, people who develop that type of discipline are usually able to transfer it to their academic studies.

Hopefully, the Orchestra of the Americas visit will influence more of our youth to embrace formal music education and enhance Dr Clarke's and the NYOJ's mission of transforming young individuals and communities through classical music.

We also hope that when the Orchestra performs at the Montego Bay Convention Centre tomorrow evening, it will do so to a capacity audience.

Nineteenth-century German philosopher Mr Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche is reported to have said: "Without music, life would be a mistake."

Our very own Mr Robert Nesta Marley was even more succinct with his very famous opening line from his classic Trench Town Rock: "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."

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