Javion Brown and his classmate Ayelo Parke could not contain their excitement on Wednesday as they watched Japanese national Natsomi Nagamura present two guitars and a keyboard to the music club at their school, Aabuthnott Gallimore High in St Ann.
The two boys, active members of the club and lovers of music, told the Jamaica Observer that they consider the gifts to be a great addition which will help in their development and that of other students at the school.
"I'm feeling happy and blessed to see these new instruments because we now have more to play music and we can also use the new instruments to teach younger students who are interested," said the 17-year-old Brown, who is an experienced guitarist who also plays the drum well.
Brown's love for music started from playing the instruments in Grants Mountain, St Ann, where he grew up.
"I played music instruments in church from a young age so I have love for music," said Brown.
Since being a student of the music club at Aabuthnott Gallimore Brown's skill has improved and he has been given extra attention by his music teacher Leon Malkiyah.
Brown has also been able to practise and exchange information with his friend Parke who aspires to be a musician.
Parke told the Observer that he is itching to start using the new instruments in practice sessions with other club members.
"I feel excited because we have more instruments to play and they will help to develop on my skills and I can also play with my friend… and that will give us the courage to play in front of a lot of people," said Parke.
The instruments, valued at $300,000, were donated by a Japanese recording company, Kaeru Studio, and facilitated through Nagamura's non-profitable organisation 'Link Up JAJA'.
According to Nagamura, the recording studio staged a reggae fund-raiser in Japan and the money made from the event surpassed expectations. This led them to donate the excess to Jamaicans through way of music.
"They did a reggae day fund-raiser in Japan and they were trying to raise money that would be equivalent to J$1 million but they got almost double that. So they decided to use the money for something good and they decided to give back to Jamaica, since we are reggae fans and we respect Jamaicans," said Nagamura as she added how great it felt to be part of an experience to bring joy to the students, in a similar way that the Jamaican music has brought happiness to her and other fellow Japanese.
"This is an honour. It is amazing and I really hope this positive movement can go on. I'm a Jamaica lover… I love the music, the food and the beaches, so this is just our way of showing our appreciation," said Nagamura, who first visited Jamaica at 17 years old and then returned a couple years ago as a volunteer with the Japan International Corporation Agency.
"I was sent to Jamaica in 2019, but COVID-19 happened and I was sent home. But I fell in love with Jamaica and decided that I wanted to continue the work and so I formed my own non-profitable organisation, Link Up JAJA, and I came back in January to do more volunteer work," Nagamura told the Observer.
According to Nagamura, several other schools in St Ann will also be receiving musical instruments.
"We are planning to make arrangement with Brown's Town High School for them to receive, and another two schools should also be gifted as well," she said.
In the meantime, Malkiyah, who has been the music teacher at Aabuthnott Gallimore High for six years, welcomed the donations as he pointed out that the new instruments will make a world of difference.
"We have some guitars that were donated by Romaine Virgo some years ago but over time they became worn so these come in really hand. These two guitars can also be easily played if there is no electricity, and the keyboard also has great quality. It has the capacity to be connected to the computer and create audio for beats and so on," said Malkiyah.
Principal of the school, Eloise Panton, was also ecstatic about the donations which she said will be a great addition to the school's music offerings.
"This is a lovely gift to the institution. we do have innate talents in music as our children play the drum, the keyboards and the guitars well. So these instruments are a welcome addition and I am excited because I believe in the holistic development of children as not all of them will do well academically, but they can still make a positive contribution through other means and our school is known to have done well where music is concerned," said Panton.
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