Thirteen students pursuing an Associate Degree in Music Performance completed their exams in May and at the same, the Alpha School of Music (ASOM) marked the completion of its first year of existence. “After such a long and storied legacy, the opportunity to create a new programme that fills a need for Jamaican youth interest in music has been an amazing experience,” said ASOM Bandmaster,” Gay Magnus. “This first year has been filled with milestones, but none greater than the fact that we as a community, the school, and students, completed our first year together.”
The Alpha School of Music continues the tradition established by the Religious Sisters of Mercy through the Alpha Institute and the Alpha Boys School whose music programme started in 1892 and helped to launch the careers of jazz innovators, ska pioneers, and reggae greats. Today, with the continued support of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, ASOM is Jamaica’s only tertiary music school focused on ensemble training.
Margaret Little Wilson, Administrator of the Alpha Institute which includes the Alpha School of Music said she sees a bright future. “The Alpha School of Music is off to a very positive start. I am proud of the work our staff and students put in and the results that we hear coming out. The end-of-year performance showcased important values such as discipline and practice that we are asking everyone to work on.”
The students will now proceed to the second of two pre-qualifying years before beginning the Associate Degree curriculum. While this past year focused on music theory and a practical understanding of ensemble music, year two will be a chance to explore the connections between performance and music technology. Classes in Pro Tools, sound system culture, and disc jockeying will help provide a Jamaican context to the international music industry.
Senior Music Instructor at the Alpha School of Music, Clayon Samuels, said second-year students will be joined in September by a new group of talented newcomers. “We are now accepting applications for the first and second pre-qualifying year,” said Samuels. “We have received applications from very qualified young men interested in moving quickly and efficiently through the Associate Degree in Music Performance. I urge everyone who is passionate about music to remember that Alpha is the place to turn your music passion into your music career!”