Best school band competition to start March 24
Creative producer and founder of theJamaica Best School Band competitionRayven Amani

CREATIVE producer and founder of the Jamaica Best School Band (JBSB) competition, Rayven Amani is elated that after cancelling the competition twice because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it is now set to begin on March 24.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Amani said organisers have already received eight applications, which means only two more spots remain to reach the maximum entry of 10 schools. The deadline for entries is Thursday, March 10.

“[There are] so many emotions because we were still uncertain up until January. We cautiously went along, but it's really exciting. The schools [and] students are [feeling] a release, you know like an exhale, like we've been holding our breaths all this time,” Amani said, noting that the competition will be held at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

She continued: “Alpha [Academy], which is a two-time champion, is coming back to try and defend their title, so that's exciting. We also have some new entries like Denbigh High School and St Thomas Technical. It's going to be a thrilling time, so we are really excited.”

Explaining that it is an inter-high school stage band competition featuring schools from across the island, Amani added that the competition will have four rounds of performances, in which bands will be judged for their skill and overall technique.

She said all COVID-19 protocols imposed by the Government will be observed.

“The schools are to submit a video of their audition round performance, so we are doing the first round remotely,” Amani began. “Because we are being safe, we are being cautious, you know, everybody is still a bit wary of everything that's going on and parents, of course, want to ensure the safety of their children, principals also, so we decided to talk about that approach for the first round. For the second and final round we will give them call times to come in, so there will be only one band in the space at a time,” she explained.

According to Amani, this season for the competition will only host 10 schools, as opposed to the 22 schools hosted in 2020 before all performances were cancelled. This, she said, is because of the challenges the students experienced when all face-to-face classes were halted.

“After such a long break coming back, we are really looking forward to it. What the competition really does outside of entertainment is to help the students to grow in confidence. Now, when I talk to the teachers and they say, 'boy, the students are behind because they didn't get to practice for so long', I always say to them, music is a lot more than entertainment. Once you start playing it helps with your mental space, don't underestimate that. This time has been challenging for so many of us, the children as well,” Amani said.

Amani also stated that the basic instruments required for the JBSB competition are keyboard, bass guitar and drum sets.

“They can add to that as they like. They don't have to have vocalists, but some would have vocalists,” she added.

Amani pointed out that Vinyl Record Association is a major sponsor, as the organisation will award the winning school with $250,000.

“There will also be cash prizes for second and third place winners. VP Records is also on board,” Amani said.

BY CANDICE HAUGHTON Observer staff reporter haughtonc@jamaicaobserver.com

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