Music and bigotry

| 24/11/2009

There has been a lot of chit-chat over the airwaves and newspaper letters recently that have compelled me to lift my pen. It’s all part of the expat-Caymanian debate which I usually don’t get involved in.

My argument has always been this – unscrupulous people come in all colours, shapes, sizes, races, and nationalities and if I have any objection to an individual work-permit holder, Caymanian, or any other human being it is likely to be based on scruples.

This being said, what has drawn this Caymanian into the debate is the persistent attack on teachers who play music on the side. And to the objectors I ask – ARE YOU FOR REAL?!

To give some clarity, there are two things that I ask that the objector consider.

1. Music is a subjective thing. It is much like the human voice. An instrument will react to different people in different ways. How one lady plays the sax is going to differ in style, sound, and plain old soul than how a man down the road plays the same instrument with the same reed. How one plays an instrument will vary also from genre to genre. How a sax is used in a soca band is going to be completely different from how it is used in a band that plays classic rock (a genre most Caymanian bands wouldn’t touch anyway). How then can you tell a band leader of a jazz band that he should not hire the lady who has played jazz for 15 years but instead he should hire the boy who plays classical because he is a Caymanian?

To deny the subjectivity of music is to disrespect the art. And no true artist disrespects the art they claim to fight for.

2. Let’s talk about teachers. Teachers, a bit like nurses, are hard to come by and absolutely impossible for a society to grow without. They also happen to be some of the worst paid and best qualified professionals the world over. Cayman does its best to recruit qualified and dignified professionals to entrust our children’s growth to – both our public school system and our private schools. I have been privileged to be taught by many of these professionals and have come out the better for it. There are teachers who play music who contribute in invaluable and irreplaceable ways teaching serious subjects like IT and physics. You know what many others of them teach? You guessed it! MUSIC. They join bands, not only to supplement their teacher’s income but to keep their skills fresh – skills they then return to work and pass on to CAYMANIAN students.

So when I heard objections to varying people’s work permits to allow them to play music I listened with half an ear. And then when I heard it was TEACHERS – the people who have made their life’s work the shaping of Cayman’s future – my question again… are you FOR REAL?

Which begs the real question – what is the REAL objection here?

Let’s face it. This isn’t patriotism. This is eliminating the competition.

For this reason I belong to no association. Naked bigotry will never appeal to someone like me…

…someone who is in it for the MUSIC.


Holda Wright-Note is a Caymanian musician

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  1. Young Caymanian says:

    Well said!

    As a young female Caymanian (who might I add is currently studying music to become a teacher), I am frankly disgusted with the bigotry displayed on these islands especially when it comes to the arts!! Music is something that unifies people no matter race, creed or sex and is also an innate human quality whether or not someone considers themselves "musical" as we all bond with it.

    For people who seek to put a cap on music teachers playing in outside gigs, I have but one question: ARE YOU MAD?

    Honestly, I may be only 19 and in my first year of university, but even I can see this for what it truly is which is fear of competition.  To that I say to them,  suck it up.  No matter how good you are or think you are, there will always be people better than you.  Instead of holding your fellow brethren in music back, use it to push yourselves to become even better!  Imagine if my university in the UK put those restrictions on me playing in the outside gigs because I wasn’t from the area? I know people here would be up in arms about discrimination and the like, so what is the difference here?

    Yes, being a musician in Cayman is a hard life as well as being a thankless one, but even more so the life of a music teacher with unruly students, LONG hours (I’ve had teachers both in the public and private schools be at school from sometimes 6 in the morning and not leaving till 7 in the evening or on the eve of a big concert or play 10pm!), limited resources and crap pay but still they teach and inspire and impart on children their love of music. 

    Do these people forget that performing is one thing a musician loves to do? Even if one loves teaching, it still doesn’t compare to the feeling one has when one is in front of a crowd giving their all.  To take that away from anyone is inhuman and selfish. Moreover, as someone mentioned earlier, no two musicians plays the same exact style music which means to limit who is allowed to play limits the music available on island.  Is that what we REALLY want? A stifling of musical expression?  How many of those Caymanian musiciansare trained in classical or jazz piano or in classical or musical theatre singing etc? Not many to my knowledge, even though without a doubt there are some here.

    So keep the music scene full of variation and life! Let them play if they want to!  For musicians to keep other musicians down is the worst thing you can do especially when it is what we do that brings people together.

    I leave my two cents with this quote by American Composer Aaron Copland : "To stop the flow of music would be like stopping the flow of time itself, incredible and inconceivable." 

    Think about it.

  2. Anon says:

    Again it seems to come down to government over-regulating every little nuance of our lives here.

    It costs a lot of money for government to have a small army of administrators to enforce all these petty restrictions – then it clearly cuts down on the quality and quantity of musicians available.

    Again the CIG is doing more harm than good. I say exempt anyone "working" less than 5 hours a week including musicians, people on work permits who want to paint their houses, and all the other petty restrictions Government seem to love to enforce so strictly.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wish the radio stations would play less local music. Most of what they play is awful midi tunes extolling the tourist virtues of Cayman – when I hear it I change stations immediately and I am not alone.  Advertisers, you should ask that your slots are run in a hour that does not contain local music.

    • Anonymous says:

       Pray tell exactly how many local artists there actually are? Very few… I suggest you keep changing the station because there are many others on this island who would love to hear some of their local people’s music as much as you apparently do. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    It seems that SOME Caymanians and SOME Ex-pats alike have nothing better to do than complain…go one way and they complain…so you go the other way and still they complain.

    And then these individuals wonder why their lives suck (or why they perceive that their lives suck).

    It all boils down to a negative bad-minded mentality that they are too ignorant to get past.

    They view the glass as half-empty and blame others for their own failures.

    It is sad but unfortunately these people will continue on in their bad-minded ways because they are unwilling to improve themselves.

    Do not let these people bring you down. They are simply ot worth it.

  5. Lower Vally resident says:

    I’m glad that someone provided clear consist views about this issue.  That was a clearly constructed argument. No response from the bigots huh? 

  6. noname says:

    I couldn’t agree more.  Same thing goes for artists – the people who paint and draw.  Did you know they have to have a "special" permit to allow them to sell thier artwork.  Get a grip people!

    • Anonymous says:

      Having a skill in a foreign country of any sort should not oblige them to utilize their skill freely.  While Cayman is not sovereign it has laws in place for reasons which the general public may not understand.  Requiring expats to have a "special" permit is another obligation an expat has to abide by while living in the Cayman Islands. 

      Unfortunately not everyone will like it, but it is something that exists.  Either deal with it or instead of complaining; try to make a change to get rid of the problem.


      • Anonymous says:

        Any limitation on the production of artistic works will be an illegal fetter on the right of free speech under Art 10 of the ECHR which binds the Cayman Islands government.

        • Anonymous says:

          From my understanding producing artistic works wihtout receiving payment may not require a work permit.  However the determination for receiving payment for artist works appears to be the reason for the requirement of a special work permit. 


  7. Anonymous says:

    well done holda for speaking out against the small mindedness of cmea. they should welcome competion not run from it 

    • Anonymous says:

      The competition is quite welcome, you only need to pay to compete!

  8. Anonymous says:

    shows how ‘good’ local musicians are if they are afraid of teachers doing some part time playing in the evening. maybe they should be banned from singing in the shower too……

    • Fallen Angel says:

      Just as the eyes are the windows of the soul,  I would say that music is its language.

      The eyes sees it,  the heart feels it, the hand plays it, and the mouth sings it.

      How can one restrict or fetter one’s soul’s expression? If human rights is universal, what about the soul’s rights?

      We all know how bratty some kids are in school especially if they also have batty parents.  Maybe playing music at nights re-energizes the teachers to face another bratty/batty day in school the next day.



  9. One good ting about music... says:

    when it hit.. you feel no pain.  you say it well my friend.  there are regulations and regulations, and more regulations. i’m a musician and i can accept most regulations if they make sense. even when they don’t!  but regulating music?? everyone musician i know has a side job. we do that because music doesn’t pay that much. and the reason we play music is because we can’t help it. you would think, or hope, other musicians could understand that.  because if you asked them why they did something that didn’t pay all that much and kept doing it.  they’d answer the same…  they can’t help it.  playing music with other musicians is how we learn. it’s simple. if you think you’ve learned it all so far you haven’t heard it all yet.

    it’s how we expand. it’s how when you look over at someone else playing you know exactly where they’re going. this is what separates music from any other form of expression. this is what creates the magic we all keep going back for when we be jammin’.

    to deny someone that because they also have a side job is about as backward as you can get.  there is a young guitar prodigy and by young i mean twelve.  his name is tman.  the kid rocks and flash on the guitar. he can’t play in bars so he plays where ever he can. some musicians tried to stop him because he wasn’t old enough to be in the union.  but older musicians, more accomplished musicians, stood by him and said "let the kid play".  i want to hear the same from our musicians because they have to know what it would feel like if someone said "you can’t play. there’s a rule against it."

    it will be a sad day when we can’t rock in the free world.


  10. Sammy Quaver says:

    Musicians / performers who don’t get gigs are always jealous of those who do. Usually it comes down to 2 things:

    1. They suck

    2. Everyone else market themselves better

    Gigging is hard work and if you don’t persevere you will lose out. Don’t make it personal or some sort of hate debate.

    • One good ting about music says:

      Yeah mon.  I have heard some excellent musicians here!  Real good musicians. They obviously work at it.  I have also seen others who set up with a drum machine, a laptop, and pre-recorded doink.  Might as well stay home and listen to a CD because they miss the point.  That ain’t live music.  It’s the radio.  That ain’t a band.  It’s TV!   Live music for live people!

      • nonsense says:

        "Live music for live people!"


        Agreed but unfortunately not on a Sunday for stupid reason!