Music grad strikes chord with students

A Caymanian music graduate who has been playing the piano from age three now shares her knowledge and love for music with students at John Gray High School.

At 22, Nicole Barnett is the youngest teacher at John Gray.

Her desire has always been to teach music in Cayman.

‘I saw myself as being a young Caymanain teacher coming into the system with a lot to offer,’ said Ms Barnett, who hails from West Bay. ‘I feel that I relate to my students having grown up here in Cayman. I enjoy music and I can bring my youth, energy, experience, passion and love for music and really show them that music can be something fun.’

While studying music can be hard work at times, the rewards are many, she said.

‘You can express yourself emotionally and connect with other people and other schools.’

She added: ‘I was given my first career break last September but little did I know that one week after starting the job Hurricane Ivan would put my career on hold.

‘That was an experience that I will never forget. College never prepared me for that. Here I am charged with all this knowledge to give to my students and one week later the school is in shambles.’

When she is not teaching Ms Barnett plays the piano at her local church. She is also a member of the National Choir.

She has played the piano in the National Children’s Festival of the Arts and won a music award from the Mich Foundation.

Family tradition

‘My parents are Curtis and Christine Barnett – that means that music was in my house from the very beginning,’ she said. ‘As most people know, my parents own Barnett Music Centre, so music was always around.

‘We have a piano at home, which both of my parents play. As far back as I can remember I was always trying to reach the keys from as little as three years old.’

Ms Barnett started formal lessons when she was four and she has been playing the piano ever since.

While at the Wesleyan Christian Academy School, Ms Barnett said music was one of her favorite choices. There, she started to learn how to play other instruments.

After graduating from the Christian school at age 14 she said she definitely knew that she wanted to enter into the music profession.

‘From there I went on to university where I did a bachelor degree in music education at the Houghton College in Western New York.’

Ms Barnett said at college she learned to play various instruments to attain a grade pass.

She is now qualified to teach such instruments as the trumpet, trombone, saxophone, clarinet, drums, piano, guitar, flute, recorder, tuba and French horn.

Busy schedule

Being a teacher, Ms Barnett says, does not allow her a lot of time to practice on her own. Most of her time is spent tutoring the students and preparing them for exams.

‘I was hired to teach instrumental lessons at the school and to prepare students for the Trinity exams which happen in November and March.’

Ms Barnett, who teaches Years 10 through 12 at John Gray, loves music but there are times she needs to do something else. ‘Those times I snorkel, find a good book to read, hang out with my friends or just put my feet up and watch a good movie,’ she said.

‘Right now I am just looking at getting more experience on the job. Maybe later on I will look at furthering my studies.’

Nicole Barnett

Pullout:

‘I feel that I relate to my students having grown up here in Cayman.’

Nicole Barnett