Using music, Carel Taylor’s main focus is to open the eyes of youths to different types of career opportunities, experiences, and a strong work ethic.
For four years Taylor, 24, has been the arranger for the St Margaret’s Boys’ Anglican School Steel Orchestra, which has won the Primary School Junior Panorama competition 11 times. He is also a past pupil of the school, and one of the first to participate in its pan programme.
In addition to being an arranger, Taylor graduated with a degree in music from the University of TT last November, gave private music theory classes, and planned to start his masters in music this year.
His accomplishments made him a role model to the boys with whom he interacted. and that fact inspired him to aspire to more.
“When they hear I sat in the same primary school, they are like, ‘Wow.’ So I try to show them if they put their mind to it they could be in my position and even better than me in a few years, and they love that. It’s about giving back to the kids so they could have a better future.”
In order to do that to a greater extent, Taylor would like to become a regional or international music educator.
“I want to go anywhere I can make an impact and give knowledge.
"Also I want to stick to my home ground, St Margaret’s Primary, and keep giving back to them so the band could grow, have our own panyard, and maybe a music academy from Grade One to tertiary level, a full music school so people won’t feel like they have to go abroad to study music.”
He said he began playing with the St Margaret’s Youth Steel Orchestra in 2002 in Standard Four, when it was one and the same with the primary school band. After leaving the school he continued playing with the senior band, St Margaret’s Superstars, which he does to this day. He also played with the Trinidad All Stars since 2010, although he did not play this year.
His life as an arranger, however, started four years ago when the managers of St Margaret’s Youth Steel Orchestra, Rosemary and Kurt Abraham, asked if he wanted the job.
“She approached me and asked how I would feel arranging for the primary school because I had been with the band for so long. She was like, ‘It’s time to give you that exposure. So would you like to be the arranger for the band?’”
At the time Taylor was focused on his degree and on playing classical music, as his goal was to teach music theory at a primary or secondary school. He had never thought about arranging, but initially he had the assistance of another past student who was pursuing the same degree programme, and a number of people encouraged him to try.
“It was a difficult transition because I had to adapt my style. But having played with Panorama bands before, I had an idea of how a Panorama song should start. Then by taking certain phrases (in the lyrics of a song) and certain ideas and just playing around with the song and improvising, trying to get certain things to fit, it would sound as good as or better than the original song.”
He would also like to arrange a song for senior Panorama, just once for the experience, but said children were his focus.
“A lot of the adults want to live life and party, miss practice when they ready, and lime.
"The kids now, they realise they could be like sir, they want to do this and they have drive. Even if music is not something they want as a career, they could apply the same drive, dedication and attitude towards their profession to succeed.”
Although he now loved arranging, Taylor’s main plan was to continue teaching music theory so musicians would be able to understand the music itself and its jargon without someone having to explain or show them what to do.
He wants to show youths how music could be a career through touring and performing at music festivals and concerts. He also wanted to show them music could be fun – associating with members of the music fraternity as well as working with great musicians and composers around the world.
Those youths who did not want music as a career, he said, would have the option of music to fall back on even as they met interesting people, gained life experiences, and had other opportunities opened to them through networking.