Outline for early creation of a National Youth Orchestra in keeping with aims of National Youth Policy towards 2030

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Introduction

THE concept for the creation of a National Youth Orchestra is essentially the further development of an idea I have long considered as means of furthering the latent talents of the youth with music education and a wider perception of the arts, given the inherent cultural association of Solomon Islanders with traditional forms of music, song and dance.

In the Solomon Islands music traditionally involves using percussion instruments, panpipes and flutes and various other homemade instruments.

Men often play ‘mouth bows’, using their mouths and a taunt plant fibre (now plastic fishing line), to create a harmonic effect. Large and small slit-drums are made from hollowed tree trunks, and can be used to send massages as well as for music.

In more recent years, the most ubiquitous modern music has been by string bands and panpipe dance groups.

The panpipes originally used a different tonal scale than European music, but this was modernized during the 1960s and 1970s.

Percussion orchestras play large bamboo or polythene pipes constructed of different lengths and sizes and struck with rubber thongs, often accompanying panpipes.

A unique musical, cultural talent that must never be lost.

With the launching of the National Youth Policy towards 2030.I saw the opportunity within the provisions of the policy for a shared vision for the future of young people, an opening platform to propose the early creation of a National Youth Orchestra that would not only enhance the musical talents of those youths already possessing instruments, or those already skilled in playing music, but also because the benefits of music education extend to a number of other societal and psychological outcomes.

Some international studies have found that youths involved with the arts become more cooperative, gain more self-confidence and are much less inclined to anti-social behavior, and have the lowest levels of lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs among any groups in society.

Music education is a powerful way to develop students’ appreciation of music. But music education can also enhance children’s skills and abilities outside of music. The following benefits of music education illustrate some of the ways children are impacted.

Study after study proves that regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students do better in school than those who have no music involvement.

Music education can help students develop spatial intelligence.

Spatial intelligence refers to the ability to visualize elements that go together. Students use this to solve math, art, engineering and computer problems.

In addition to developing abilities like spatial intelligence, music education can impact the way that the brain works. There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training.

Studies have shown that students who received music instruction had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks, Brown reports. Brain imaging showed changes to the networks in the brain related to those abilities.

Last week, the Speaker of the Solomon Islands National Parliament, Ajilon Jasper Nasiu, spoke on the history of the Youth Parliament and how participation in such a forum provided youths with an opportunity to express their ideas and to widen their educational experience.

He also stressed how participation helped to develop confidence, team work and broader awareness of community issues.

I fully endorse what the Speaker had to say about widening the experience of youths and broadening their education and their role in society.

It is very much for the same reasons that I would like to see the broadening of music education and the early creation and sustainability of a National Youth Orchestra in the Solomon Islands.

I believe participation in a youth orchestra would have a profound impact on the development of today’s youth.

Beyond being a recreational activity, it would create opportunities for leadership, engagement, and creativity.

Music builds leadership: Many music programs involve bands, choirs and orchestras, all of which involve working and communicating with others to achieve a common goal. This develops leadership and teamwork skills that can be applied to other areas of life.

A music education can provide the values for students to thrive in all areas of life from academics, to relationships, to careers. Having the understanding that practice makes perfect and sustained effort will achieve positive results is sure to take any music student far.

Implementation

I raised the idea of creating a Solomon Islands National Youth Orchestra in letters to the local media last week and I have been greatly encouraged to pursue the ‘dream’ by mail I have received from several members of the public who believe such an orchestra formed by youths, already with the inherent musical talents, interests and enthusiasm would be beneficial.

I have written to the British Council with offices in New Zealand to enquire whether the British Council, with an interest in furthering art in the wider Pacific region, would be interested in aiding the project aim I have outlined.   I wait to get a response.

As the Ministry of Women, Youth and Children Affairs is the local Ministry responsible for the National Youth Policy, which includes musical activities, with support from the Culture Division of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, I very much look forward to being able to develop my ideas with the two Ministries to see how we might combine to get the idea of a home grown National Youth Orchestra off the ground in further music development and promotion.

I cannot preempt anything that I might receive by way of help from either the British Council or the two Ministries I have mentioned, but I do believe it would be essential to have a dedicated, qualified and motivated local person to coordinate things from the onset and to be able to oversee the selection and supervision of the youths that would make up the youth orchestra.

Alternatively, a volunteer professional from overseas could be encouraged to come to the Solomon Islands to undertake what I believe would be an exciting, interesting and uplifting opportunity to work with the young musicians selected to form the orchestra.

Perhaps, the Solomon Islands Music Federation could advise whether the possibility of getting a local person to do the necessary work, or say how a suitable VSO might be approached and recruited.

I know that VSO personnel have come to the Solomon Islands for a number of years from Australia, the UK , the USA, Taiwan, Japan and New Zealand and all have contributed in their own way to making life better for individuals, communities and the country as a whole.

A group of talented musicians in the UK stand ready to help in whatever way possible with the creation of a Solomon Islands National Youth Orchestra, especially with music training and education, but await news that local efforts to see to the implementation of my ‘dream’ have developed sufficiently to consider holding fund raising concerts in the UK.

Summarization

Such is the background as to why I would like to fulfill my ‘dream’ but especially today coupled with the realization that many young people are unemployed and I feel sure crave for a sense of belonging and have the need to contribute to society in a positive way.

I would dearly like to help the many talented young people find a communal sense of purpose and instill in them a renewable of pride and national identity, so often lacking and generally only witnessed by sporting achievements and prowess on the field.

In recent weeks, I was in contact with a group of highly skilled, talented and widely courted musicians in the United Kingdom with strong ties with the Commonwealth Secretariat, based in London.

To cut a long story short, this group has learned of my long held ‘dream’ to see the creation of a National Youth Orchestra in the Solomon Islands and has offered to be of considerable help in getting my idea off the ground.

It has been suggested that the group would be willing to host fund raising concerts in the UK to help cover the acquisition of any instruments needed by a local orchestra, should the youths not have any of their own.

Fund raising would also be a means of covering the expenses of the group of 5 musicians to come out to the Solomon Islands and to undertake music lessons and training to give a kick start to a local youth orchestra.

After waiting for so many years for the kind of support that now seems to be possible to pursue my desire to see the creation of a truly home grown youth orchestra, I can’t wait to get the same degree of encouragement from the SIG ministries and others most closely involved in youth affairs, culture and tourism.

In the meantime, I would really welcome reader’s views, comments and suggestions on what I have outlined. I can be contacted via the link provided in my website –www.solomonislandsinfocus.com.

I will end by referring you to the website of the UK musicians willing to go out of their way to help the Solomon Islands and especially the youth.

Addendum

This letter was sent to the Editors of local newspapers last week and it is fitting that I include what I had to say in the context of music education and the rewards that it brings.

PASI a voluntary association teaching music to young children doing creditable work.

Your readers will know of my ongoing efforts to try and form a Solomon Islands National Youth Orchestra and I am looking forward to getting support for its creation from the newly appointed Minister for the Ministry for Women, Youth and Children Affairs, the Hon. Mrs. Lanelle, Olandrea Tanangada.

As a former teacher, I know the Hon. Minister has a keen interest in the youth and their education.

In the course of writing about my idea, I received news of a hitherto unknown but very valuable Association that has been teaching music to young Solomon Islands children, helping them to play the piano and helping them sit for the annual Australia and New Zealand Cultural Arts (ANZCA) music examinations.

I was delighted to get news of this Association by the name of Piano Association Solomon Islands (PASI) and to learn of the outstanding contribution being made to the children’s education in music and the arts.

It occurred to me that PASI could well be associated with any future National Youth Orchestra and especially if the young, qualified musicians, could be encouraged to join the orchestra.

Whether or not the idea of a National Youth Orchestra gets off the ground or not, I believe PASI is truly deserving of support from the Solomon Islands government and, perhaps, recognized with support from one or more of the resident High Commissions or development partners with close ties to the Solomon Islands.

I understand from a parental perspective, learning music has opened up a new world for the young children being helped by PASI.

To all those involved in the voluntary work of PASI I extend my sincere thanks and the encouragement to continue the good work – and hope that the extra support needed to further the work of Association will soon be forthcoming.

 

Yours sincerely

Frank Short