There are so many more benefits to music than just having fun. Reading and listening skills have been cited as two benefits of being able to play music, along with it being good for the memory, social skills, early math learning, fine motor skills, confidence-building, study principles, discipline and commitment.
It’s with this in mind and the idea of giving back that Brett and Margaux Blackman, principals at Little Prodigies Music & Arts School, provided one-year full scholarships, each valued at $1,565, to three children. Each scholarship covers nine months of classes, inclusive of music books and registration fees, and has been awarded to youngsters Standika Stuart, Cavian Roberts and Timari Rolle – to study music at Little Prodigies.
Standika and Cavian, Palmdale Primary School students, were chosen by their school principal, Phyllis Johnson, to receive the scholarships. Timari, a third-grade student at Temple Christian School, had attended Little Prodigies daycare camp in 2011 when he studied drums, and school owners Brett and Margaux Blackman offered him the third scholarship to encourage him in his musical studies.
The scholarships were made possible for the students through partnerships with Commonwealth Bank, Valdy Administration and DanBrad Ltd. (McDonald’s).
The most recent scholarships awarded bring the school’s number of scholarships granted to students since opening their doors in 2016 to six, in its bid to teach and develop the next generation of musicians. Devard Francis Jr. and Eve Burrows were the first two scholarship recipients from Little Prodigies.
“It is our desire every year to present opportunities to students who wouldn’t normally be able to attend our school,” said Blackman at the school where they specialize in music instruction in piano, drums, bass guitar, woodwind, dance, drama and acting.
The Blackmans say they believe that not every Bahamian child wants to be a politician, banker, teacher, lawyer or doctor, and that many children desire to be singers, musicians, actors, actresses, music producers and songwriters.
“We are driven to instruct, inspire and prepare the next generation of musicians and performing artists,” she said.
“Many of our Bahamian icons were those who made great strides in the music and performing arts sector – [Percy] “Vola” Francis, Cleophas Adderley, Ronnie Butler, Baha Men, Nehemiah Hield, Sidney Poitier, JoAnn Callendar and the list goes on. We believe that what we do with our students will inspire and influence the next generation of icons to continue in the enhancement and further growth of the music and performance arts sector in The Bahamas,” said the director at Little Prodigies of the school’s mission.
She said at Little Prodigies they strive to leave their mark on the country by educating children and adults alike. The school also offers a free homework assistance program for students who are registered in their weekday music programs and are in first through sixth grades, in math, English and reading. Either before or after their music classes, the staff ensures students focus on their homework.
Little Prodigies began in June 2011 with a summer program of approximately 20 children. It was held at the Cleveland Eneas Primary School, with a lecture line-up that featured Fred Ferguson, who taught guitar; Ivan Prosper on drums; Isaiah Taylor, who was responsible for bass guitar; Travante and Tamika Taylor, instructors for the piano and vocal classes; and Dorothy Hanna, the dance instructor.
Since opening the doors to its physical space in the Dewgard Plaza, Palmdale, Little Prodigies has expanded its offerings to include teaching music to adults as well.