The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has taken another step in ensuring that Caribbean Culture remains an integral part of its syllabus, with the signing of a contract which will see a musical piece composed to commemorate the Bicentenary anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 2007, being added to its syllabus.
The Council today (November 4), signed the contract with the British High Commission for composer, Mr. Michael Burnett, to train Caribbean teachers to teach the work, ‘Let These Things be Written Down’. The piece was first performed by a 60 voice choir on October 6, 2007, at the University Chapel in Kingston. It combines traditional Jamaican melodies, lyrics and rhythms, and makes use of texts by Jamaican and Caribbean British writers, such as Mr. Dennis Scott, Mr. Derek Walcott, Ms. Una Marsden and the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley.
Under the contract signed at the British High Commission, in Kingston, music teachers in 11 countries will be trained at a cost of $3.3 million, to be provided by the High Commission.
Pro-Registrar of the CXC, Mr. Glenroy Cumberbatch, thanked the High Commission for its support, noting that the piece was being included as a ‘crown’ in the CXC’s music syllabus, as it would increase the availability of original Caribbean compositions.
He informed that teachers have been expressing their satisfaction with the training, which is currently underway, and that many have said they are now in a better position to teach that component of the subject.
Mr. Cumberbatch lamented the fact that although music was added to the CXC syllabus 10 years ago, not enough students are taking up the opportunity to learn music formally. He said that the CXC views music as an essential subject to study and that, “in some areas we believe that music is a core subject, just as important as English, mathematics, science and those areas, in that it helps to improve the human being.”
British High Commissioner, His Excellency Jeremy Cresswell (right), presents Chairman of the Institute of Jamaica, Professor Barry Chevannes, with the vocal scores and compact discs for ‘Let These Words Be Written Down’, at the signing of a letter of agreement between the Institute and the British High Commission, today (November 4), for the Institute to reproduce and distribute the musical piece. The High Commission also signed a contract with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) for teachers to be trained to deliver instruction on the piece, composed by Mr. Michael Burnett for the commemoration in Jamaica in 2007 of the bicentenary of the act abolishing the transatlantic slave trade.
He is suggesting that music be made a compulsory part of the curriculum in all Caribbean secondary schools.
Also speaking at the signing, British High Commissioner, His Excellency Jeremy Cresswell, said the High Commission was pleased to have been approached by the CXC to have the work included in its syllabus. According to Mr. Cresswell, music is a very important discipline, as it is “another language” and is often very accessible.
“Music can uplift the soul in a way, dare I say that literature barely can. Music is something that is probably more easily accessible, irrespective of language and irrespective of language ability. So, the notion that music should not just be an option is something that I certainly share very strongly,” he said.
A Letter of Agreement was also signed at the function between the High Commission and the Institute of Jamaica, for the reproduction and distribution of copies of the compact disc (CD) and vocal score.
Chairman of the Institute, Professor Barry Chevannes, said the Institute was very proud to be associated with the project and could be held accountable for ensuring the work is widely distributed.
Mr. Burnett is an English composer and educator who has ties to Jamaica and the Caribbean, having been seconded from the Roehampton University in 1979 to the Jamaica School of Music and the University of the West Indies, for four years.