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…Linden youths worried over govt decision to pull plug on band corps
By Naomi Marshall
The Linden Music Corps has been helping youths of the mining town over the years to build their skills outside of the classroom. But Jennifer Williams, the band’s coordinator is fearful that the government will stop supporting it.
The Linden Music Corps was revamped in October 2015 by the David Arthur Granger led administration with the aim of providing youths with the opportunity to learn both the theoretical and practical aspects of music. The musical band also provided the players with the opportunity to learn essential life skills such as goal setting, teamwork, time management, prioritisation, leadership and public speaking.
In addition, the members of the band would receive a monthly stipend funded by the Government of Guyana. In December 2020, the Linden Music Corps, which has over 60 youths between the ages of 10 and 35, won the Children Band/Steel Orchestra Award at Linden’s first Music Awards.
Besides Williams, the band which played for flag-raising ceremonies, churches, funerals and opening ceremonies among others, is also Coordinated by Jeffery Jackson. Despite the fact that the band has been positively impacting the lives of youths over the past years, Williams received a message from a representative of the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports indicating that the programme will be discontinued until further notice.
The news was announced through a text message on March 31, 2021 with immediate effect. The reason as to why the band is being discontinued is currently unknown and the youths and coordinators of the band are devastated over the situation. Nevertheless, Williams is hoping that the minister sees how beneficial the band has been for the youths of Linden and reverse the decision.
Speaking with Village Voice News was Chelsea Crawford, a 16-year-old who has been a part of the ban for five years. Crawford expressed that she was “disappointed” when she was notified by her music instructors of the ban being discontinued. She noted that being a part of the Linden Music Corps was a form of relaxation for her, that also helped her to focus more and improve her performance in school.
“I am hoping that the ban resume because presently, I do not have any form of relaxation or anywhere I can go to take time for myself,” Crawford said.
Also expressing his disappointment was 14-year-old Essien McNeil who has been a part of the ban since 2019. The young musician noted that the news of the ban being discontinued shocked him because it was the only leisure activity he was allowed to do.
He added, “I am 100 percent hoping that the ban will resume I was because that was the only thing that I really got to get out the house to do and due to the COVID-19 pandemic we never got to practice as much as before but now due to the decision made to discontinue the ban, we cannot get it at all so I am disappointed.”
McNeil reminisced on his experience in the ban, noting that it was fun and provided him with a lot of opportunities to see different places. He said, “The ban was a good thing because it taught me discipline and everyone there was kind and it was just a nice environment to be in.”