Friday, Jul 19, 2019


Thinking about enrolling your child in a fun summer camp that will start them on a hobby that will positively impact their lives for years to come?  How about enrolling them in an intensive four-week program to learn an orchestral string instrument?
JoAnne Connaughton, director of The Bahamas Music Conservatory, still has spots left in “Jump Start Strings”, two summer programs for two separate age groups of children — 8-14 year olds, and 5-8 year-olds.
The older set have the opportunity to attend all-day classes by specialist tutors in order to learn how to read music, play in ensembles, learn music history and appreciation and of course, learn a stringed instrument.  The younger set can attend one hour classes in the morning or afternoon (or both) encompassing a variety of activities such as instrument lessons, music theory, music reading, listening to music, music and movement, melody writing and other activities.
But both provide fun, JoAnne insists — in fact, the older group will spend Wednesday afternoons taking trips to the beach.  And it isn’t all strings — they’ll also have the opportunity to learn about rhythm through playing with drums as well.
Both are designed for absolute beginners, so don’t think your child will not be “up to speed” — in fact, compared to once-a-week afterschool lessons, JoAnne says, this is a great opportunity to develop great specialist talent.  Due to its concentrated day-to-day exposure, each day is like two weeks of lessons, so after one month, 8-14 year olds especially will have almost up to a year in experience in such a short amount of time.
“The kids we started between 2-4 who are now 5-7, they’re taking off, really taking off,” she says. “But the 8-14 age group, they learn fast.  We’re hoping this summer camp, in the space of one month, they’ll cover pretty much one year of work.  So if they’re coming into the summer camp with almost nothing, they’ll go out being able to play their instrument.”
Music is a great way to build discipline, co-operation, listening skills and long-term goal-setting in children.  Having a creative outlet such as playing an instrument also provides them with a hobby that they can return to again and again in a positive and thought-provoking activity.
For those 8-14 year olds coming in, they can learn either the violin, cello, viola or the double bass.  Though parents may be more familiar with the first two, JoAnne encourages parents to think hard about setting their children on course with the lesser-known viola and double bass, the reason being that they are shortage instruments — instruments that are always in demand worldwide.
“In the long term, I have this cunning plan.  I’m trying to work out how the Bahamas can compete with the rest of the world when we don’t have all the advantages,” she explains.  “If we play a little politically and we create our specialties that the world wants, then it gives our kids an edge, gives them access to more stuff. My solution is we compete by offering the world what they need.”
If your child enjoys the summer camp and sticks with their  instrument, they may be able to use that extracurricular activity to get into colleges abroad — especially if the instrument they specialize in is a shortage instrument.
“If you play those instruments and you apply to college, you are significantly more likely to get in because colleges want those instruments for their orchestra.  Harvard has no music program — but they have an orchestra and they get the musicians by giving scholarships to their law students,” JoAnne explains.  “Now, we’re talking twenty years down the line, but I want colleges and orchestras to look to the Bahamas, to contact us and say ‘Do you have a viola player that would want to come and study in our college?  Do you have a double bass player that would like to audition for our orchestra?’”
Sound like a good alternative or supplement to sports scholarships?  Nothing negative can come out of fostering a love for creativity in children.  A great way to get them up to speed is through this camp.
There’s still time — classes don’t begin until Monday.  For more information, contact JoAnne Connaughton at The Bahamas Music Conservatory at 393-6471 or visit

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