By Christabelle Brown | IG: @islandbelle_876
Anticipation was in the air as I journeyed with the Shash Team to the National Baptist Basic School in Trench Town, Jamaica. A we stepped out of the vehicles, we could hear the students’ voices, filled with excitement. They ran to greet us with hugs. It was not my first visit to NBBS—I knew that, despite the negative perception of the Trench Town community, NBBS promoted an environment of excellence. I was ready to share my talents with the kids.
As a Music Education student at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, I was tasked with leading the music workshop. My activity plan aimed to use music to connect the children with their surroundings, and what better way to accomplish this than to discover that objects around them could make sounds? Once they found their objects, they remained engaged throughout the lesson and enthusiastic about creating their rhythm. The children were also fascinated by the instruments I brought for them to explore.
I circulated a djembe drum and catta sticks around the classroom; students learned how to play the bass, open and tip tones, and basic steps of drum patterns. While the drum carried the rhythm, I told them that the catta sticks were a reminder of the steady tempo that a drummer or singer should maintain.
Then came the fun part! I instructed the students to raise their voices as they sang Jamaican folk songs. They also learned the history behind the songs and the dance moves that accompanied them. Both Kindergarten 3 classes and their teachers were so grateful workshop—many of the students’ daily lessons were delivered through songs, and my lesson sparked a love of music that would allow them to grasp future lessons with more quickly and efficiently.
I was duly impressed with the NBBS staff—not all schools can maintain such a productive learning environment in a community stigmatized by poverty and crime. The children demonstrated such passion for learning that I wished I could have stayed longer to impart more of my musical knowledge. Words cannot express what a blessing this day was. Thanks to Shashamane Sunrise, I am eager to embark on future engagements with the Trench Town community, filled with rare roses in the most unlikely gardens.
On our way back from our school visit, we made a special pit stop at the Culture Yard in Trench Town, which was Bob Marley’s first home. Bob Marley has had such an impact on Jamaican and world music, and, as a music student, I was humbled to stand in the rooms where he learned to play guitar. I spent an incredible day surrounded by love and music. Volunteering is FUN!
Christabelle Brown is a model, Music Education student, and Shash Youth Ambassador.