MUSIC SCHOOLS IN THE COMMUNITY
MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, CULTURE AND THE ARTS

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Music Schools in the Community Programme was conceived as a response to the dearth of trained musicians, in particular steelpan musicians, underutilized community spaces, extant music centres, dormant institutional programmes, underutilized music tutors and idle and unproductive young hands and minds. The programme introduced participants of all ages to music literacy and instrument performance on a variety of musical instruments, inclusive of the Steelpan, Alto and Tenor Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Clarinet, Guitar, Sitar, Tabla, Dholak, Harmonium, Violin and the Recorder. Apart from addressing the general paucity of musically literate musicians, particularly in the many steel bands throughout Trinidad and Tobago whose members play music by rote for cultural competitions, the programme was also seen as a social intervention tool on the part of the Ministry. It was enacted to address the challenges faced by our nation’s youth regarding juvenile delinquency, disruptive behaviours being manifested in the primary and secondary school system by both male and female students, drug abuse and the influence of gangs in the community. These issues were all of great public concern, and needed to be addressed.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Music Schools in the Community Programme is an inclusive, music literacy programme which promotes intellectual growth via music education, and facilitates persons of all ages to make positive contributions towards national development. It was designed as an after school programme conducted between the hours of 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm on weekdays, and from 10:00am to 12 noon on Saturdays and introduced to young persons who may not have previously been interested in the arts, to the world of music. The experience of actually holding a musical instrument as the saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, trombone, or even the steelpan, let alone to learn to play musical notes, produce sound and participate in the playing of songs and melodies were hitherto unimagined.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The overarching goal of the Music Schools in the Community Programme is To Change Lives and Communities through Music Education. Its main objectives are to: • Conduct Music Schools in communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago on an annual basis; • Target fifty(50) students at each venue (25 beginners and 25 intermediate); • Provide training to students in music literacy and instrument performance on a mix of Woodwind, Brass, String, Steelpan, and other percussive instruments (the choice of instruments is dictated by the community preferences, opportunities and needs); • Conduct the programme in a diverse mix of venues as follows: Panyards, Avant Garde Music Schools administered by NGOs, FBOs, Music Educators, Correctional Institutions, Children’s Homes, Youth Clubs, Youth Camps and other similar agencies, Secondary Schools in the education system. The end of semester reports have documented that over the past five (5) years, the participation by young students in the Music Schools in the Community programme has had a positive effect on each participant, as well as on the community and steelbands to which they belong, through increased membership and the growing trend of a preference for music literacy among young pan players. In the community context, the spaces in which the programme is conducted come alive with positive collective social action and harmony, with the parents of participating students and other family members volunteering to supervise students and assisting in having the environment prepared and organized for productive activity. There has also been a measurable decline in undesirable or deleterious activities. Over the past five (5) years many tutors, venue representatives, parents, family members and other community stakeholders have commented on camera and in writing on the improved discipline, academics, sense of responsibility, teamwork and friendship that have been cultivated among the participating students. Since the programme’s initiation, in excess of 2000 students have successfully completed the twelve (12) week semesters and participated in the end of semester recitals. These recitals have been of immeasurable value to students as it allows them to showcase the work and the results of the many hours of practice put in on their instrument of choice. Apart from experiencing a sense of accomplishment, for the more gifted students, the end of semester recitals is an important gauge of a possible career in the performing arts sector.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
There is a scarcity of trained, qualified music teachers in Trinidad and Tobago who are willing to work for rates below market value. To address this issue, tutors for the Music Schools in the Community were drawn from young students from Tertiary level institutions throughout Trinidad. The prospective tutors were exposed to developmental workshops conducted by experienced music educators. These workshops focused on expanding the knowledge base of the tutors, on teaching styles and various methodologies for teaching music as well as demonstrations on instrument playing techniques. The services of retired members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, Police and Fire Services Bands were also acquired. The acquisition of the retired members of the Services Bands was viewed as a major development since, apart from their musical competence, it also brought increased factor of maturity, stability and professionalism to the programme. The incorporation of a mentorship component into the programme proved to be one of the more significant innovations.   Termed “Artist in Residence”, the initiative introduced master artiste and icons of Trinidad and Tobago’s music industry to serve as mentors, to share their knowledge and to provide guidance and support to both students and tutors.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The idea of a programme of music literacy targeting pannist, and steelbands in particular, was first spawned around 2007/2008. The then Ministry responsible for Culture had engaged in several fact-finding initiatives pursuant to its commitment to develop the artistic and creative expression of young persons across all strata of society. Site visits to over fifty (50) locations throughout Trinidad and Tobago were conducted to identify community spaces which were conducive to teaching and learning, as well as those most in need of this training. The Music Schools in the Community programme was included in the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s Plan of Action initiatives to support the efforts of communities, to reclaim the country’s neighbourhoods from the scourge of crime, negative behaviours and other social ills. The Culture Division further embraced the strategic perspective of Government, which spoke to respecting the work of the nation’s creative people and mandating the use of the Arts to strengthen national identity. The overall responsibility for the conduct of the Music Schools in the Community programme lies with the Culture Division of the Ministry. The Culture Division is headed by the Director of Culture and is sub-divided into five (5) units: (1) Festival Development (2)Heritage Preservation (3)Performing Arts Entities (4) The National Registry of Artist and Cultural Workers and (5) Development of Competencies in the Visual ,Literary and Performing Arts. This latter team (DCVLPA) is responsible for planning and implementing of the programme. Since its inception in excess of 2000 students have participated in the programme and received certificates of participation.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The staff of the Culture Division was mobilized for a series of meetings scheduled to discuss the various tasks and responsibilities associated with the programme, assign duties and set timeframes for the completion of tasks. Some of the key steps and activities included: (1) discussing the concept of the programme and fashioning an appropriate syllabus (2) determining the instruments to be used for the programme (3) identifying the source for the purchase of instruments (4) obtain quotations from suppliers (5) develop criteria for selecting tutors (6) develop criteria for selecting venues (7) identifying and selecting tutors (8) review of resumes and interview of applicants (9) identify and select the venues for the conduct of the programme (10) develop schedule of classes (11) identify and acquire teaching tools/aids (12) invite recommendations from band managers for venue representatives (13) develop contracts for tutors, venue representatives and the various venues (14) host pre-semester workshops for tutors and venue representatives (15) marketing the programme in the communities (16) design registration, attendance, and tutor’s payment forms (17) conduct end of semester recitals. The consultants to the programme developed an assessment and evaluation rubric and visited the respective venues where the programme was conducted to observe and interface with the tutors and venue representatives. The tutors were responsible for completing the assessment and evaluation rubric for submission to the consultants. Cumulative financial, technical and human resource costs associated with the Music Schools in the community initiative in the first year amounted to approximately $1,634,269.00. The project was financed exclusively by the Ministry of Community Development Culture and the Arts.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The programme was implemented by the members of the Culture Division, of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts. The Culture Division focuses on the development of Trinidad and Tobago’s many artistic forms and provides support to the work of cultural organizations, community groups, arts based NGOs and artists and cultural workers. This particular initiative was led by the Director of Culture, Mrs Ingrid Ryan Ruben and support for the implementation was provided by a team of technical officer from the Division of Culture. Alongside these officers were a number of persons from key areas in the sector. Among them were music teachers, senior personnel in the Military and Fire and Police Service bands, Steelband leaders, persons responsible for the management and administration of community centers, school principals, and the Head and senior personnel of the Creative and Festival Arts Department of the University of the West Indies (UWI). During this process, site visits were carried out at over fifty (50) locations in both urban and rural communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
A greater awareness of the fundamentals of music literacy, (2) greater appreciation for the care,  maintenance and proper storage of  instruments, (3) students being able to perform in ensembles and to accompany other student musicians (4) students successfully completing the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM) Graded Music Theory examination, (5) students developing the ability to sight-read simple musical scores. It was the hope of the project’s innovators that a programme of music education which emphasized music literacy and instrumental performance would lay the foundation for future generations of musically literate Steelpan instrumentalist in particular, and other instrumentalist in general. In the inaugural year 2012, although the maximum recommended intake of students was fifty (50) per school, the programme was over-subscribed at all the venues to the extent that a number of young students were unable to join. The programme has also allowed for the increase in the number of youth and adults who have gained relevant skills, which through the continuance of the Music Schools in the Community programme will allow for decent employment in the future. This is in keeping with Goal #4 of the Sustainable Development Goals: To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The Music Schools initiative has resonated positively in all the communities in which it has been offered. There have been repeated requests for extended teaching time and the expansion of the programme into other community spaces. In 2014, the initiative was expanded into four (4) additional community spaces, including two (2) correctional institutions, one (1) children’s home and one (1) youth club supervised and managed by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. Since the inception approximately two thousand (2,000) young persons have participated in the programme. The initiative attracted many teenagers, young adults as well as a significant number of pre-teens. Interest in the programme has remained high, with a significant percentage returning as well as new students at all the venues in which the programme is conducted. A number of parents, tutors and venue representatives have commented on the positive effects and the personal growth and maturity they have discerned in their children and students since their involvement in the Music Schools in the Community initiative. There has been excellent feedback as well from well-wishers, other community stakeholders and parents. The end of semester recitals are all very well attended as it creates a sense of excitement in the various communities in which they are held.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The initiative was started in the Panyards of Trinidad and Tobago as a specific policy objective to develop the largest per capita population of musically literate musicians in the world. The Panyard is the musical nucleus of the community, where music is created, taught and performed by persons of all ages, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Since the Steelpan grew out of the creative innovations of the working class communities by persons who were at the lowest rung of the socio-economic structure, it is of little surprise that the environments in which steelbands were to later mushroom were grossly underdeveloped and lacked basic amenities, e.g running water, electricity, washrooms etc. Despite these hardships, creativity flourished, the steelpan developed, and the Panyard evolved as a natural community space that attracted these disparate aspirants, the unemployed and underemployed youths in particular. Over the years, a majority of steelband yards or Panyards have suffered from poor infrastructure and inadequate security. This was a major challenge for the Ministry when selecting venues. Since the decision to implement had to be strategic, it was decided to first assist the Steelbands by underwriting the cost of basic infrastructural improvements to the Panyards, to enhance the overall security of the venues, particularly with respect to the proper storage of instruments. There were also significant challenges in monitoring the programme. Spread over diverse geographical locations, there had been a lack of human resources to oversee each space, venue representatives were appointed with the requirement of submitting oral and written reports to the Ministry on a monthly, or as required basis.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The Music Schools in the Community initiative has helped to deepen and improve civic bonds within all the communities in which it is conducted. Although there is no authoritative research to establish this, a key performance indicator is the consistent positive feedback from parents, other family members and various community stakeholders and their expressed support for the programme. During the course of the semester, the venues in which the programmes are conducted are transformed into centres of activity, with parents assembling and moving in and out of the respective venues to drop off or pick up their children before and after classes. There is a clear sign of community empowerment as parents and other family members interface with others to provide light refreshments and ensure that the environment is orderly and safe. Of significance is the fact that, from a public service delivery perspective, the Ministry is actively involved in the research, planning, implementation and supervision of the initiative. Most public service influenced programmes/projects grant funding to community organizations that in turn organize and implement whatever programme/project is contemplated. The Music Schools in the Community initiative takes a different approach; it is more collaborative in nature, and supports the improved use of public spaces within the locality. Community spaces which were previously dormant for long periods during the year are now used as focal points to strengthen communal ties by encouraging  positive action and productivity directly within the areas. The Music Schools initiative is free of charge and open to  all, including students at the primary, secondary and tertiary level, young adults, the unemployed as well as retirees. There are no complex entry requirement criteria for accessing the programme. The programme is open to all on a 'first come, first serve' basis, ensuring that there is no discrimination, as persons from all socio-economic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds can commune in a neutral space, motivated only by the love of music. The Music schools in the Community initiative has retained a high interest among stakeholders, parents, tutors and students since inception. The programme has attracted favourable attention from both print and electronic media.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
not applicable

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
not applicable

Contact Information

Institution Name:   MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, CULTURE AND THE ARTS
Institution Type:   Ministry  
Contact Person:   INGRID RYAN-RUBEN
Title:   SUPERVISOR  
Telephone/ Fax:   18686258519
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   aliciablake19@yahoo.com  
Address:   51-55 FREDERICK STREET
Postal Code:   00000
City:   PORT OF SPAIN
State/Province:   N/A
Country:  

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