…though not on schools’ curriculum
By Vanessa Braithwaite
Despite not a part of the school’s curriculum, Head Mistress of the Howell Wilson Primary School in Ituni is currently engaging students in an active music programme as it is not her desire that their God-given talents go to waste.
Miss Carmen Cox is a strong advocate of extracurricular activity as she believes this allows for a student to become rounded. Since she has been teaching music at various schools for over 30 years in schools, Cox who was appointed Head Mistress at the hinterland schools said that she decided to voluntarily provide music lessons to the children who have shown the interest and possess the talent of singing. Though many teachers focus on developing beautiful voices, Cox has taken a different approach by pushing for the students to learn to read and write music as well as to play instruments.
Currently, she gives music classes to students as young as the grade 3 level who have learnt to write music as well. “I have been teaching music for over 30 years at various schools, when I was appointed Head here, I noticed that some of the children have beautiful voices but they needed to be trained and rather than to train them in just singing I started teaching them to read and write music and to play the recorder which they have been doing. The students, 14 in total, range from the grade 3 to the grade 6 level and have participated in various social events in the village.
Cox said that the students have all expressed their love for the field and have revealed their future plans. “Some of them would say when I grow up I want to be a part of a band or I want to be an international singer, they have dreams and I would like them to fulfill those dreams.”
Fears for Future
The music teacher is however fearful that as the students migrate from the village to pursue their secondary education in Linden, there may attend a school that does not have music on the curriculum as only two schools in Linden are equipped with music teachers. Cox said that she fears that the students’ talents may go to waste and her training may go down the drain. Despite this fear, Cox will continue to teach the students as she hopes for the best.
Teaching music, she said, also has many benefits for the students as they are able to perform better academically and their self-esteem grows. “One of the benefits of music is that the child learns time management and then their grades go up…they become rounded individuals because half of the brain is responsible for academics while the other half allows for extracurricular activities, so when a child utilises both halves, they perform better in everything they do. They become rounded.
She boasted of one of her students who now has a masters in music after traveling overseas to pursue the subject. Cox is also of the belief that a child’s metal faculty is also balanced and developed and just as the core subjects are prioritised in schools, music and other extracurricular activities should also be given priority. Despite nearing the time of retirement, Carmen Cox said that every time she sees the little ones playing the recorder with zest and passion, she feels fulfilled and knows that her voluntarism will pay off in the end.