Lessons in tabla, dholak in Trinidad schools

Port-of-Spain, April 8: Nearly 167 years after Indians arrived here, the sounds of the tabla, dholak and harmonium will be heard in over 550 primary schools of Trinidad and Tobago which will now teach the Indian musical instruments to students.

According to Education Minister Tim Gopeesingh, the cabinet has agreed to introduce a multicultural form of music in the primary school curriculum, representative of the country’s diverse culture.

The current music programme in primary schools is based on the Western musical tradition. According to the minister, the instrument of choice so far has been the steel pan or drum because of its origin.

Guitar, cuatro, xylophone and African drums will also form part of the new programme, he said. This programme will be called the Multicultural Music Programme, instead of the Pan-in-The Classroom Unit.

Indians arrived in Trinidad and Tobago between 1845 and 1917 to work on sugar plantations.

The Indian High Commission has been holding classes in Indian music and dance through the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Cultural Exchange.

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at paras_ramoutar@yahoo.com)