As it turns out, learning music is a lot like riding a bicycle. It takes concentration, control, patience, and attention to cadence to create that balance or flow. For these young musicians in Barbados the connection to bicycles goes even deeper.
Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) is a Bajan community center located in an historically under-served community known affectionately as 'The Pines'. But Pinelands has been operating there for over 40 years, so that continues to change and evolve. The organization formed to empower youth and strengthen the community through the arts. Since then, it has grown to incorporate music, dance, theater, academia, and even career planning and skills for adults.
Bikes for the World began supporting this project 15 years ago and we've watched it grow and mature over the years. In addition to generating employment through the bike shop established right there at the community center, the proceeds from bike sales also support a number of arts and education projects offered through the center. Initially that involved items like costumes for performances but has since grown to include computers and support for academic offerings as well.
Pinelands now offers programs to help prepare students for the school placement tests that determine where students attend secondary school. While they recognize that this exam weighs heavily on the quality of their education going forward, the staff at PCW also knows building a strong foundation for learning begins long before then.
Music, performance, and entertainment plays a strong part of Bajan culture stretching back centuries. Their festivals and performances also attract tourists throughout the year, making it an important part of the islands' backbone. It goes without saying the arts are an important part of every child's learning experience.
And what Pinelands found was this outlet was more than just a creative expression for the community. It was an important building block for learning for students. Sitting down and learning an instrument forced these kids to focus. It increased their concentration and improved their mental capacity for learning.
Reading notes teaches children to decode a complex set of symbols and turn them into music. It allows them to use their hands and turns their energy into something beautiful. Learning music also offers students immediate feedback and trains them to improve based on what they learn (or hear). And the best part? They don't even realize...they're learning!
For these young musicians making music is a lot like riding a bike. If you hop on a bike and your balance is off or your cadence too fast, you fall down. You get up and you try again, and again, and eventually you gain your independence and make it work. For them, connecting notes and measures to find a melody comes with the same practice and reward. Practice, practice, rest, repeat.