Traditional music workshop to focus on fife

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Basseterre, St. Kitts – Cultural Preservationist Winston ‘Zack’ Nisbett is gearing up to focus on the fife as he hosts the 11th annual traditional music workshop at his historical/cultural library and museum in Buckley’s Estate.

Nisbett, who has been the coordinator for this workshop since its inception, spoke exclusively with the Observer, stating this year’s workshop will be with a focus on discipline. He added that the theme for the workshop is “Discipline Is Key.”

“In order to produce effective music you must be disciplined and that is what was being taught over the years,” he said, stating that the tutor for the workshop will be Robert ‘Bobby’ Martin, who has been involved in music for more than 50 years. “He is an exceptional musician and he has dedication to deal with the children,” Nisbett said.

He said the age range for attendees of the workshop is from 4-14. “It is a beneficial workshop because we have children starting from the age of 4 and it is a whole repertoire of students,” he said. “We have inculcated into the workshops and [they] came out successful. We prefer from 4 to age 14, as they are the ones more suitable for learning. When they get older, we see them turn to different avenues. So, it is always better to target the younger ones because they are more positive and it blends within them.”

He added that rather than them being involved in activities “out of the way,” it is better they learn the skill of music.

“Music is a universal custom that sends messages like language and if they can stay discipline and learn to play the instrument, they will be able to make a dollar for themselves,” he said.

He then highlighted some of the benefits of attending the workshop.

“They are able to become more self-sufficient because when we go out to play and the benefits go to them,” he said. “Some of them their grandmothers and parents tell me that in over a year, some of the children had accumulated over $2,000 playing for functions, churches and funerals.”

Nisbett said the instruments that will be taught are the ukulele banjo, quarto and the guitar, but emphasis will be made on the playing of the fife.

“The fife is an essential part of the music that is deteriorating and we are going to teach them to make the fife and blow in the fife made from PVC pipe,” he said. “We want to establish that every one of the students [who] comes into the workshop [that] we are going to have special emphasis on the fife.”

He added that a number of individuals have already registered for the workshop, which will include learning about discipline and history as well as music.

Nisbett stated that the camp will be held for the first time at his new location in Buckley’s Estate and the new environment will be better.

“At the end of the workshop, we will have a graduation ceremony and [they] will get a chance to display what they have learnt,” he said. “This year, we have something special we want to reveal, but I [will] announce it when it is in full swing and give you the score about it.”

The workshop will also feature many guest speakers’ interaction with the attendees. “We have special speakers coming in – police, people in the community who have had high standing and ministers of religion, we get them to come and speak to them.”

The workshop is set to run July 31-Aug. 26.