Sunday, January 17, 2010

Music is my life

from w
A Fiji newspaper today describes the optimistic plan to teach orchestral instruments in the 20 centres of the new university in Fiji. I think James Ah Koy is sprinting flat out on this one. Are substantial music programs already in place in both the primary and secondary schools in Fiji? A better model for a university course would be closer to the Monash University emphasis on world music, rather than conservatorium style Western orchestral music. And there are numerous mistakes in the article. Piano, violin, are not brass instruments. Who will be the sessional lecturers in each instrument? Some guys from the Police or Army bands? What about a major in qawali, building upon the skills of musicians already in Fiji? And of course 'Voice' should be primary as the Island people are outstanding already in this aspect of music. And composing for choirs. Certainly it's a wonderful idea to offer degrees or diplomas in music and to widen the range of instruments to teach, but full orchestra is rather ambitious. Also, in MHO music-making is for living, not to make money!

from the Fiji Sun today:
University introduces new music course
An education institution in the country plans to introduce orchestral music courses into its new curriculum. The newly- formed Fiji National University hopes to introduce orchestral music lessons in all of its 20 centres around the country. College Dean of Humanities and Education Alifereti Cawanibuka said the University needs close to 600 pieces of brass instruments to move ahead with its plan. The University is consulting with the Chinese government to donate these instruments.

“The University would need around 30 pieces of brass instrument such as xylophone, saxophone, violin, piano, to name a few, for each center,” said Mr Cawanibuka.

Fiji’s Ambassador to China, Sir James Ah Koy confirmed that he is holding talks with the Chinese government on behalf of the University. “With this initiative, Fijians can be internationally recognised with their music talents,” he said. “And I’m not talking about guitar playing but orchestral music instruments.”

For a small country like ours, Sir James says, Fiji has a lot of talented musicians and with orchestral training, they could be recognised internationally. “If this goes ahead, every village in Fiji would be able to be exposed to orchestral music, which is something different,” he said. “With orchestral music, Fiji can be internationally recognised. It can do better than rugby or peacekeeping duties in terms of foreign remittance earnings for the country.”

He added that countries such as the Philippines are using orchestral music talents to earn foreign exchange in Asia. Sir James said Fiji could do the same.

The University will be involving local musicians like Seru Serevi and Laisa Vulakoro to facilitate the new curriculum. Mr Serevi said the new programme is good for the young talents at grassroots level. “In my view, this project must go,” he said. “It touches my heart because it is meant for musicians at grassroot level. “It’s been guitar all along but now we have the opportunity to advance into a totally another level of music,” he added.
PS. If I was younger I would love to be involved in such a course - ethnomusicology is my forte but I could offer piano, keyboard, pipe organ. No, Suva is too rainy for me!
A cartoonist, Gerard Hoffnung drew some wonderful cartoons of musicians. Here are some of his drawings.


Andrew Thornley said...

Peceli and Wendy - Is this Fiji National University different from the University of Fiji, located between Nadi and Lautoka? How can Fiji ever hope to afford a third university?
As for the item on orchestral music, the focus must be on the strengths and traditions of Pacific music, starting (as you rightly say) with the voice. There are few choirs in the world that can match Pacific choirs in their ability to sing 8-part harmony.
As a violin player, I once took my instrument to Fiji and had to watch it carefully in the humid climate of eastern Viti Levu. Pianos - and indeed all stringed instruments - suffer equally.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Andrew,
The third university has been established by joining FIT, Nasinu, Lautoka, medical, nursing, and similar institutions where they were successfully running mainly Diploma level courses I think (though Medical is surely Degree level). It's the interim government's initiative, so not to do with the University of Fiji which is based at Lautoka.
About music - this is a jumped up idea without really thinking it through. Another Fiji newspaper - Fiji Post - had an article implying that it would be the teaching of brass instruments. Well, how do they go in the tropics too? And who will teach them? Maybe some of the guys from the Tongan band that put on a good show at the Edinburgh Tattoo!