Colombo National Youth Orchestra celebrated the World Children’s Day on 1 October 2011. The show graced by the Hon. Minister of Education was well recieved by parents and well wishers. I found it enthralling… partly because my son was taking part. And while waiting for the show to start I contemplated on how we take for granted that children are just, okay. I know we all love our kids but I guess it was a time to take stock of all things related to their fragile lives. In between incomprehensive syllabi, packed time tables, sports and school events do this generation of kids have fun and freedom we enjoyed? And not just on whether our own kids are enjoying a happy childhood but children of our country in general.(the programme was delayed by a good half an hour thanks to the Minister and my thoughts were gallavanting) What of child labour, servants, prostituites, child traffiking and the beggar community? What of ophaned kids? What about these under-previledged children, how do we bring hope into their lives?
Children have rights as human beings and also need special care and protection.In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection.The Convention on the Rights of the Child spells out the basic human rights for children: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.
I hope celebrating Children’t Day creates greater awareness among communities. I hope it draws attention to pressing need for proper laws, regulation and kinder attitude towards children. Kids are not BTW there for parents to mold their ambitious plans or to be grromed as proteges. Childhood are the couple of years that these children have to grow into personalities, into different individuals, in a boundless spirit of inquisitiveness and creativity. Perhaps this is what the Youth Orchestra has given to these very priviledged, 70+ kids hailing from towns near and far. Amazing how far they would travel to be part of this.
Having said all that, I look back 6-7 years when I thought my son could be exposed to the real world of classical music. Knowing only too well how limiting my own experimentation of music was with the Piano (Piano lessons and exams!!) I wanted my son to enter the world of wonder… and I took him to the school orchestra and let him decide on an instrument. And when he selected the Cello little did we know about this wonderful instrument or the esmble of other instruments in the orchestra.
We soon found out that the Colombo NYO was willing to lend instruments to students who joined the orchestra and that they would also be trained by experienced teachers. The Cello is the second largest bowed string instrument in the orchestra, and is superseded by the Double Bass. My son was given a 3/4 Cello that was befitting his age and level of understanding. And with that he spent every Saturday afternoon at NYO practices at Vishaka Vidyalaya and on three other days he was up earlier than usual for private lessons and practice sessions with the school orchestra. He grew into a bigger Cello several years later and became more competant at reading and expressing music. I think the fun part came in being part of the young crowd. Learning and sharing the joy of music. (which I observed was never a chore) An orchestra contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Not only do you learn to be master of your own chosen instrument you learn to appreciate music from other instruments, understanding the smilarities and dis-similarities and the use of both to make music. Children also learn decipline under the guidence of the Conductor. Descipline as a requirement to master the instrument I should think and not a forced form of discipline. Children learn enduarance through arduous practice sessions. Yet the long hours are always rewarding.
I watched in wonder as the items were presented and quite literally stopped my tears in one joyful moment. I was so proud of my son been part of the esemble that evening.
Among the guest artistes that evening were Edward Jayakody and his beautiful wife, Charitha Priyadarshini and the de Lanerolle brothers, Rohan and Ishan. They added colour to the programme by singing Sinahala and popular English songs. They were backed up by choirs of half a dozen schools. I think to myself how much practice these kids would have put in and the untiring efforts of the staff and conductors. True to the spirit of artists everyoneone of them enjoyed it.
I asked my son what he liked best out of the evenings items. Reader of mythical stories (likes of Harry Potter novels) he ‘liked’ the Light Calvary Overture. Here’s the NYO performing the Light Cavalry Overture from the YouTube