Esther Batson - Music Educator
Ms. Batson was born on January 8, 1933 in St. Joseph, Trinidad and Tobago and spent much of her life educating others. She contributed to the musical development of many individual panists as well as bands such as Melodians Steel Orchestra, Angel Harps from Arima, and Potential in Malick. She was the director of the Celeste Orchestra, which included stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello) and the steelpan.
Ms. Batson earned her music education qualifications at the University of Miami and the Royal School of Music. She arranged a number of cultural exchanges between the University of Miami and Trinidad & Tobago, which resulted in the university initiating its own steelband program.
At the Arima Government Secondary School, she pioneered efforts to combine stringed instruments with the steel pan. The school was the only one where woodwind, brass, strings, voice, pan and other percussion were taught as part of the curriculum, and it was often in the winners’ row in both the vocal and instrumental classes at music festivals.
Ms. Batson’s students won trophies in the Trinidad & Tobago Music Festival in the piano classes. Many of her students have also won scholarships to universities in both North and South America.
She was Musical Director at the Holy Trinity Cathedral for about six years and was influential in the restoration of its Walker pipe organ. She also served as assistant director of the St. Columba Church Steel Orchestra. This is the first orchestra that taught students to read music through the steel pan. Many of the older members went on to becoming vital assets to many of the well-known steel orchestras in Trinidad and Tobago.
Ms. Batson also served as a judge at steelband competitions in Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, Grenada and New York City.
Esther Batson had noted that the biggest challenge facing women in the steelpan art form was getting the public to support pan women financially.
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