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Building a castle in the air

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Fri Aug 15, 2014

Editor, Sometime during the year 1963, I rented a room on the lower storey of a house in Frenches which was occupied by one Ms Mills. This was secured for the purpose of band practice for members of “Rhythmaires” of which I was the founder and bandleader.{{more}}

During the period which I spent in Frenches, I often heard Pan music being played and I was quite impressed with the talent which was displayed by persons who were untrained musicians. Because of the impression I got, I enquired and discovered that they were members of a steel band. As a consequence, I invited them to come to our band room for the purpose of learning how to read music and thought this should also lift the level of their music.

Everyone was eager to learn. I therefore contacted Mr Laban (the sign painter) and he willingly prepared a blackboard with the necessary number of music staffs, free of charge and in time to begin classes. Thank you, Mr Laban!

On our first day, the men were really excited and enthused just to get a glimpse of things like the five lines staff, clef signs and music notation etc. As time progressed, I would occasionally name certain notes or rests and ask anyone of them to insert on the blackboard, the symbol which I had mentioned. Most of them welcomed this approach and it gave me the opportunity to discover whether they were learning and understanding what was being shown to them.

However, one day in the middle of a session, a member got up and said: “I am not interested in all this thing here; I just want to learn how to arrange music.” Silence prevailed for a moment… then I said to him: “Let me tell you a story about a gentleman who actually began building his house from the roof downwards… He completed the walls to support the roof and then the flooring, with divisions for bedrooms etc, etc. The lower storey was completed in record time. The only thing left to be done was to prepare and build the foundation with the support of his workers. He personally picked up his pickaxe to start digging his foundation, but as soon as he raised his hands above his head ‘he wake up out he sleep!’” Laughter filled the room until it was time to resume instructions.

Classes continued for a short period thereafter, but the men eventually lost interest and therefore tuition was brought to an end. This experience convinced me that I could have used my time more profitably, although I did not entirely regret my humble undertaking.

Raul U Soso

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