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May 30, 2017

S.J.C. Has New Music Degree

If you were thinking of pursuing music studies in Belize, you will now have a chance to do so. For the first time a local school is offering a degree programme for students to study music. The programme will officially start in the upcoming school year.  For S.J.C., the road to realizing this new programme started two years ago and with help from a fellow Jesuit institution in the U.S.A., they have completed the setting up of a brand new music center and designed a curriculum that aims to prepare students for higher studies and even work after they complete junior college studies.  Today, we got a sneak peek inside the music center and a look at some of the talent that has enrolled in the program. Andrea Polanco stopped by today at S.J.C. and has more.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

SJC will be the first institution in Belize to offer a degree in Music. Starting August, doors to its Music Centre will open to twelve students for the Associate Degree in Music programme.


Mirtha Alicia Peralta

Mirtha Alicia Peralta, President, SJC

“The programme is an Associate Degree in Music. And just like any other programme at the Junior College it will be for two years. And it includes the general core just like a Biology student, a Business student. So it is a full-fledged programme. It is a first in Belize. There is a lot of interest in music and a lot of people accessing private lessons, but this is the first formal degree for students in Belize. So, it is a wonderful opportunity for students to study something that is outside the box; something that is different and this is going to create a lot of opportunities for our students in Belize.”


This brand new associate programme is in collaboration with fellow Jesuit school, Loyola University of New Orleans. They have assisted in the design of the curriculum, and are using their expertise in music to help develop this programme.


Ted Dziak

Father Ted Dziak, Jesuit Priest, Loyola University, New Orleans

“We are both Jesuit Universities. We are located in New Orleans, which, in many ways, is the center of music or at least Jazz music and we have a school of music connected to the College of Music in Fine Art. So, when they began talking about establishing a school in music, we said it would be a great way to collaborate.  Initially it was through the planning – how do we begin to develop a degree programme looking at the types of courses; the curriculum; also through resources. We began to collect instruments, books and so on for them and we hope to continue that; as well as personnel. Right now we have a group of seven faculty that have come here down to work with them and be here for the opening of the new music centre. But more than that we see it as a bit of long term. We are establishing a scholarship where every year one student will get a full tuition scholarship to finish off their degree; they have their associate degree for two years and then they receive their bachelor’s degree in this music field at Loyola University in New Orleans. We are also educating Alobi Young who is receiving his Masters in Music now and who will actually head the program and we are training him to be able to facilitate this.”


Today the students got the opportunity to perform and use their instruments for the professors to get an idea of their skill level– from piano to guitar to violin – this inaugural cohort boasts a class of with varied background in music.


Mirtha Alicia Peralta

“The auditions were for the professors to listen to them playing their specific instruments and for them to be able to tell at what level our students are. The professors are going to serve as like consultants to our teachers and so they will be able to guide our teachers on the way forward.”


Victoria Vega

Victoria Vega, Associate Dean of College of Music in Fine Art, Loyola University, New Orleans

“I was very, very impressed. We heard violinists, we heard vocalists, we had piano, we had bassoonist, we had saxophone. We had such a huge variety of instrumentalists and vocalists here with a variety of level of expertise; but none that I would say would not flourish in this program. It was very exciting. We really enjoyed speaking with the students to see how they learned a lot of them are self-taught and have done a splendid job.”


And to accommodate this programme, SJC has outfitted a brand new music centre which sits within the confines of the gymnasium. The fully air conditioned centre has practice rooms and comes with some instruments already in place.


Mirtha Alicia Peralta

“The music center is equipped with a piano lab. It has a theory room; five practice rooms; a faculty lab and we purchased eleven pianos. So, students will be trained in pianos and they will also be able to train in their specific areas. We have a course called apply study and the students are going to take the opportunity to do their instruments. So, the practice rooms are going to be assigned with pianos, guitars, violins, violas, whatever the student is interested in.”


Within this music centre, the students’ learning will be guided by a curriculum that will see them learn to read, write and compose music, as well as practice. Upon completion of this program, students will not only be able to pursue higher learning in music, but can also teach and follow other music related careers.


Victoria Vega

“We have our traditional theory music courses where students learn to read and write and compose music. And they will have four semesters of that training. We also have music history courses; some are local like music in Belize and some are music literature which is more western based so that if they wanted to go on they will be prepared. They will have private lessons – individual lessons and also small ensemble work that they do.”


Andrea Polanco

“Upon that completion, they are able then to move on to higher studies, if they wish?”


Father Ted Dziak

“Yes. In fact, that is the whole idea behind the curriculum. That we would design it so that the courses they take could be accepted at any university, but also hopefully accepted at our university.”


Andrea Polanco

“What are some of the avenues these students can pursue apart from higher studies?”


Victoria Vega

“Right. I think they are going to be really well prepared to go out and be teachers; either individually or maybe lead a band or orchestra or go into the elementary school to be teachers.”


The SJC Music Centre will be inaugurated on Friday evening. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


The music centre is equipped to accommodate around fifteen to twenty students. As you heard in the story, twelve students will make up the inaugural class.  The music centre will be inaugurated on Friday at six p.m. 

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “S.J.C. Has New Music Degree”

  1. Rose says:

    SJC, please do not make the horrible mistake of having the so-called “Music Ambassador” involved in your innovative and pristine endeavor. Do not taint your good name and that of Loyola University.

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