Religion

Marching to the tune of a different beat

of a different beat

The membership at St. Ambrose Anglican Church ascribes to the adage that teaching someone how to do something is more helpful to them in the long run than just doing it for them, and training up a child in the way he should go. With that said, the church hosted its first Vacation Band Summer Camp since the start of the pandemic.

For two weeks, the church members engaged approximately 60 youngsters between the age of six and 18 from the Carmichael Road community to a church summer camp that focused on teaching the basic fundamentals of music that will allow them to become members of the St. Ambrose Marching Band.

It’s a camp that has been around for more than a decade but was on ice for the past two years, due to COVID. Father Chester Burton, parish rector, said as things return to normal, the first things the membership wanted was to re-establish the band camp.

“At St. Ambrose, what we try to do is develop a partnership with the community, so the band camp is a way for the church to bring children in off the street and give them something productive. We wanted to get the band camp up and running again, to keep the kids away from hanging out, and encourage them to learn to read music and improve their skills, for those that already play,” said Burton.

They did not just stick to the gospel genre. The children learned Bahamian music, followed by the sacred music of the church, including the popular Christian hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, followed by popular music of the 80s and 90s such as great hits “Eye of the Tiger” and “Chariots of Fire”, as well as culminating with “Back to the Island” and “Bahama Rock”.

At the end of the music camp, the youngsters staged a band recital during which they were able to display what they learned.

After a “successful” two weeks, the priest said he is elated because the camp gave church members more than just access to the children in the community,  some people who would have fallen through the cracks were actively engaged, and that they are glad to “train up a child in the way he should go”.

Burton said through the band, the aim is to also attract the youth to church.

“It’s better to build a boy than bend a man. It’s better to get them young,” he said. “And music is a powerful ministry. Anglican church members use music to get people upbeat. St. Ambrose Church uses the band camp as a tool to develop young minds, discipline them and get them ready for the church.”

In a world where many young people are running around aimlessly, the rank and file at St. Ambrose thought it quite fitting to host a vacation band summer camp at the church at Carmichael and Gladstone roads.

“During the two-week camp, church members would begin the day with praise and worship and biblical lessons for the youngsters, and then the youth would be subdivided into the various disciplines. One group of students would study percussion instruments, another studied woodwind instruments and the third group would take on brass instruments.”

The camp was held for four hours, daily.

Burton said they opted for a band camp because, culturally, Bahamians are big on music. With Junkanoo a huge part of the culture, he said the children that participated in the camp should one day be able to join the music section of any of the groups, including obtaining scholarships to further their education. He said church members also assist band members with stipends for school fees and supplies, and do whatever they can to help students while they are furthering their studies.

Arreo Ferguson, chief band instructor, headed the instructor corps that included Jerry Colebrooke, who taught clarinet; Kiarra Dawkins and Aysha Ferguson, who were in charge of trumpet; Wellron Bullard and Alton Ferguson, who focused on the drumline; and Angelo Ferguson and Hannah Bethel on keyboard.

Burton, who joined the parish in January, said he is hoping they can stage the band camp for at least a four-week period, and maybe stretch it to six weeks next year as opposed to two weeks.

The St. Ambrose Marching Band has been in existence for 15 years.

Marching bands also benefit its members physically, when it comes to participation; mentally, through leadership and discipline; creatively, as a performance outlet; emotionally, teaching respect of self, others and hierarchy; and socially, as it fosters relationships.  

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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