The Foundation continues to provide string instruments, and we are also looking for ways to provide regular string instrument instruction to interested children on the Exumas. Here is what we have done so far:
- In June 2014, with the help of International Violin, the Orpheus Foundation shipped to Corporal Brice 21 violins, one cello, and Suzuki method books for each instrument.
- In March 2015, we were fortunate enough to return to Exuma and visit with Corp. Brice and the violin students. The instruments were in fine shape, very playable, but Corp. Brice was having a few problems with the program. First, he had accepted a position as a headmaster at the school, which cut down on his availability to teach. Second, he was not a string player, so he had difficulties teaching violin. And third, the school bus for extra-curricular activities had broken down. Exuma is a narrow island about forty miles long, and many parents could not afford the gas money to drive students to or from lessons. Another development is the general unavailability and degrading of the extant internet service on the island. This impedes Exuma students’ ability to use Skype or take video lessons. These avenues of instruction are available to music learners where internet is widely available and more robust.
- The Foundation has subsequently shipped another cello, additional violins and two string basses to the Exumas.
- We sought to train an interested high school graduate in violin and so awarded a scholarship to a promising young person to travel to and attend the Mars Hill College Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week in June 2015. Although this particular effort did not bear fruit, we are open to making such awards in the future.
- More recently, in 2016-2017, the Foundation has made inroads in interesting younger children in violin and related string instruments, having donated full-, 3/4-, and 1/2-size violins to the community center/library directed by Mrs. Woodside, the former principal of Stuart Manor Primary School. In 2018, the Foundation donated four violins to the William’s Town Primary School on Little Exuma.
- We have provided violins and guitars to several adults on the island, including a private music instructor, with the hope that they will become interested in providing basic instruction to children in the community.
- Over the years, we have met with Chris Kettel, president of the Exuma Foundation. The Exuma Foundation facilitates such things as the marching band program and a bee-keeping program, coordinates aid to residents in need, and oversees other projects on the Exumas. They have been helpful in assisting us with shipping of instruments and have provided us with useful information about the Exumas.
- After a recent meeting with Mr. Kettel of the Exuma Foundation, we are considering a pilot program in conjunction with the music department of the University of the Bahamas, through which someone from the music department of the University, located in Nassau, would come one day a week to give lessons at the Exuma Foundation’s campus. In addition to providing the necessary instruction in violin, such a program would help participating university students obtain teaching credentials.