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More Than Just A Beach And Flip-Flops

With spring break finally here, like many students, the Jacobs School of Music music education major Drew Lefkowith has her sights set on the beach. But for her, there will be an extra accompaniment to the splashing of Atlantic waves.

Lefkowith will be teaching music to students from ages six to twelve in Jamaica on a ten-day trip with the Jamaica Field Service Project (JAFSP).

About The Project

The group organizes six trips yearly to Jamaica. Participants teach music in Jamaican styles: Jamaican folksongs in the Patois language, Jamaican drumming, ska, and reggae. In that vein, Lefkowith said that reggae artist Bob Marley comprises a significant part of the repertoire on the JAFSP's curriculum.

The program emphasizes cultural education as one of its main goals for participants. Lefkowith was required to learn about Jamaican culture and music to prepare for her trip, and this cultural aspect was one of the main draws for her. "I'm excited about the chance to teach Jamaican drumming," she said, "because I feel that's something I can bring back to my teaching here."

In addition to the Jamaican music curriculum, the organization supplies recorders for students, adding something of a "classical" twist to the experience. Students will learn pieces cemented in the Western pedagogical tradition, including "Hot Cross Buns."

Music In 'Treasure Beach'

This particular trip goes to the "Treasure Beach" region of Jamaica, in the parish of St. Elizabeth. Lefkowith said she and her comrades will also spend some time hiking in the rainforest, exploring villages, and relaxing on the beach.

Still, music education remains the focus. "I'm exited in general about getting to teach," Lefkowith explained. "As music ed majors we don't always get the chance to teach people in real situations because we're always teaching our peers in mock situations."

Lefkowith is not the first of her peers to participate in a trip with the JAFSP. The group's website boasts a testimonial from IU alum Susanne Harris, praising the program's effect on her understanding of Jamaican culture.

Jamie Kim, another music education major, will take part in a trip in late May. "[The trip] gives me another opportunity to go teach music out of the country," said Kim, who has also taught in China, Mexico, and Germany. Kim attributed her desire to go to Jamaica in particular to the absence of prior music education for students there, due to poor economic conditions in many areas of the country. She hopes to get a better idea of how to teach in a broader range of schools as a result.

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