There is no skylarking when a band is preparing for a Panorama competition.
Practice for the Rosary Boys’ steelband began at 9 a.m. on January 20.
The Catholic News observed them in action after a 20-minute lunch break.
Players reassemble in the band room located on the school’s second floor and stand at attention with their hands on the front of their pans. Leader Jason Lewis calls them to order.
A knock with a stick on a cello pan and they know to pick up their pan sticks, a rhythmic “tap, tap, tap, tap” from Lewis and they begin playing the tune.
Principal Richard Gomez and a few parents are present to observe and lend support.
No sooner have the players resumed where they left off that the playing is halted.
A boy is not in position. “What you doing there sir? Get behind your pan.” The boy says he is looking for a pan stick which he misplaced.
They resume. “We going from the relay”, Lewis instructs. He is not satisfied with what he is hearing and chides the boys to “stop slamming the pan”. Tapping on the cello, the players continue.
The tempo is slowed but the result is not yet what Lewis expects. Another stop.
“You know why God gave you two ears and one mouth?” A boy on a tenor bass is quick, “To listen twice as much as you speak.” Lewis cautions the boys not to be distracted and focus on their “business–, nobody else business”.
The music stops briefly as Lewis instructs only the front tenors to play. The chorus of ‘Far From Finished’ reverberates in the room; they play it again and again.
“Listen please” Lewis says in a serious tone. “Discipline. Some of us still giving trouble…not listening…we can’t go in with half song, quarter song, piece of song. It’s a team effort. Everybody must be on the same page knowing the whole song.”
There is a short recess as Lewis announces the band will have a captain. “Don’t raise your hand, smile, give me no signal,” he says to those brave enough to vie for selection. He announces Jershaun Joseph; applause greets the news with one boy declaring he knew it would be him.
Lewis urges them to respect the captain when they are called from play to practice.
“Pay respect” he stressed. “Yes, sir” a chorus responds.
Lewis has eagle eyes. “You, chewing gum, out! No eating and drinking behind the pans.” The contrite boy leaves the room and quickly returns.
Lewis advises the boys to take a good long look at themselves in the mirror when they get home, “check your discipline”. The tenors and double tenors resume playing the melody of the chorus. It is 1.12 p.m. Rosary Boys’ played for the judges last Friday morning.