Meet Master Akini Gill, Masters of Music Education  - UpClose!

Like steelpan adventure, an improbable journey

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It has not escaped him that the steelpan is mandatory at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. He’s been underestimated his whole life... But Akini Anthony Gill is all that and much, much more. “...what we need to do as a body, as a group, is to see how we can educate children through the steelpan... we need to understand the distinction between training and educating...” Akini Gill.
An exclusive When Steel Talks interview with Akini Gill, recent masters of music education NYU graduate; here is his story in his own words

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Watch an exclusive interview with Akini Gill

Global - When he lands in his native land of Trinidad and Tobago there will be no bands playing, no prime minister, no entourage of grinning politicians, hordes of media scoundrels and/or screaming fans similar to that witnessed when Trinidad and Tobago’s 2014 Olympic team returned. But there should be - such is the greatness of his accomplishments.

Akini Gill
Akini Anthony Gill

It’s a Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life,  It’s a Tale of Two Cities, all wrapped into one - but mostly it’s a tale of an improbable journey. A life’s journey that began in East Dry River, Port-of-Spain, on the island of Trinidad with its uncertain narrative, and navigates up to and through great halls of learning at NYU (New York University) with boundless promise and distinction. But like the steelpan instrument’s indomitable “spirit” and implausible existence - Akini serves as a reminder that genius, brilliance, and that true authentic intellectual spark - can and often will be found where you least expect it. And in no small contribution, the power of the steelpan instrument.

This past week, Akini Gill successfully defended his MA Master’s degree in Music Education thesis topic entitled; “Teaching Music to Children with Learning Disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago” at New York University. In fact, if the truth be told, Akini didn’t just defend his thesis. He was told it was one of the best ever Master of Arts in Music Education thesis oral presentations at NYU. And this accolade is from a place where greatness is in no short supply.

With obstacles upon obstacles mounted against him, Akini Gill has emerged confident, victorious and vindicated against a system, culture and even to a great extent - his own country. Moreover, Akini continues to exude this honest concern for his fellow man.

With countless naysayers, doubters and blockers in Akini’s path - this narrative almost didn’t happen. And like in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” the future would be so much different. But with hard work, perseverance and believing in one’s self and the support of others, Akini has succeeded.  Akini speaks fondly of the open acceptance, and support NYU has extended him. “I got more encouragement from NYU... and it helped me to grow... They took the opportunity to learn from me and I learned from them...” Indeed both parties learned from each other.

Akini brings a special sensitivity into the field of music education. As for the steelpan - Akini does not believe that “Just because you are an arranger or composer for the steelpan justifies you to go into the classroom and teach music... what we need to do as a body, as a group is to see how we can educate children through the steelpan... we need to understand the distinction between training and educating... when the instrument goes into the classroom it is about teaching... teaching is something where you’re touching people’s lives in a classroom... so you have to reflect, you have to be an example, you can damage the student...”

In this UpClose When Steel Talks exclusive interview, here is Akini Anthony Gill’s story in his own words. There is absolutely no doubt he is going to make difference....  

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