• Dr Bill Pfaff's revelation of the Birdsong Academy


    This is an article by Dr. Bill Pfaff, an Associate Professor of Theory, History and Composition at the Plattsburgh State University of New York. He is also a well renowned composer and producer whose music has been characterized by a  clear harmonic motion and described as profound and extravagant. Dr. Pfaff is a multitalented individual as he has also produced music for theater, dance and art installations that combines electronic sources, traditional instruments and found sounds.

    In Summer 2014 I was invited to be Composer-in-Residence for two weeks at birdsong. It was a revelation to me. The program is dedicated to the youth of Tunapuna and surrounding communities. By the end of my two-week stay, working with students and teachers everyday, I had learned much more than the techniques of composing for steel pan. I became part of an integrated outreach team, dedicated to the welfare and growth of students of all ages. Imbued with the leadership model shown by Dennis Phillip, all the teachers use music as the vehicle for lessons about character, integrity, responsibility, community awareness, teamwork and mutual support. I remain amazed at the high level of musicianship and focus that the teachers achieved on the tiny lot in Tunapuna: the panyard of birdsong. In addition to the work of the music teachers, many community members also participate in the many tasks required to carry off such a comprehensive program. Volunteers make the program run, and this too, becomes a lesson for the students -- a sincere demonstration of "giving back," to make the program vibrant and the community whole.

    I believe that the Birdsong Academy of Music is so much more than songs and sounds, it is a vital engine of hope for all who participate. With support, it could be a showcase for Trinidad in the world. Find the money to fully endow the program and elevate it to a national stature to demonstrate the power of music to transform lives, build community and enrich individual dreams."