By Alexis RodneyYouths in Berbice have been going to great lengths to grab hold of a remarkable opportunity which keeps them off the streets and builds their self-confidence, while also providing an occasion that very few get.The Guyana Lutheran Music Academy (GLMA), located in the compound of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church, in New Amsterdam, is said to be a “safe haven”, for many, especially the youth living in the Ancient County.Operating for some two years, the music school, facilitated by three young volunteer America-born teachers, offers lessons for a wide variety of musical instruments that are not readily available to the musical inclined in Guyana.The school was launched by Eric Sayre, a music teacher from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, and is said to have made some radical transformation in the lives of the hundreds who attend.While the founder/director is away, the school is being run by the three teachers. The most senior of them is 29-year-old Twyla Sommersell, who said that the experience has been nothing short of “amazing”.“It has been like a safe haven for the youth. I know that right now Guyana is dealing with a huge suicide issue, and this programme has offered them (students) a place for them to come, feel safe, express themselves, spend time with their friends that are not a part of their schools and they get to do something that is very relaxed,” she told Guyana Times on Sunday.The more than 130 students, who are currently enrolled in the school, travel from as far as the West Coast Berbice and Skeldon on the Corentyne.According to Sommersell, a tremendous amount of work has been put into bringing the Academy, which was conceived in 2012, to where it is today. Classes are offered in violin, piano, drums, percussion, bass, trumpet and French horns, among others, and run from 15:00h (3pm) in the afternoon Monday through Saturday.“It’s been amazing. The best part of this whole thing is the community,” she said. “Guyanese people are great. They are kind and giving, so as soon as they see someone who is new, they immediately want to make you feel at home.”She said that musical education is very different in Guyana when compared to the United States.“Because music there (the US) is part of the curriculum. And that is good, but it also kind of hurts, because kids are being forced to be part of the programme. So instead of being, or always being excited or willing to participate, kids are just sitting there like….”She said here, however, because, music was something that was not taken for granted, there was a “lot of concentration”.“They are really being focused,” she noted, continuing that there is a level of discipline here that she has not seen in the US.“I think that music is so important. I think that music brings people together. I believe that if you work hard and believe in yourself, you can become a better singer or a better musician and I think people need to understand that and that is why I am doing music. I love to share music with people.”Sommersell said she has been involved in music for a very long time, singing from the tender age of four.Her inclination and skills have now provided her with the opportunity of becoming the Associate Director of the Academy, when it resumes classes for the next school year.“I accepted the position as the Associate Director of the new school year,” the Adelphi University graduate told Guyana Times.“I wasn’t here from the very beginning. I was looking up teaching abroad opportunities in 2012 and found a blog of Eric Sayer, who was in Guyana offering programmes. He said he wanted to build a school in New Amsterdam, which is deprived of such opportunities. It was just an idea at the time,” Sommersell said. She said she immediately sent him an email, informing him that she was graduating with a degree in music education and would be very interested in being a part of his school.He accepted her help and a few years later things got underway. With a lot of donations from charitable organisations, both the young and old began pouring in, and, according to Sommersell, the experience has been worthwhile. A house has also been built opposite the school for the overseas teachers who come to volunteer.While the Academy has a host of youths attending, many adult students have also been taking hold of the opportunity, which Sommersell said provides enjoyment for them as they get to do something outside their normal routine.She said there were persons who for their entire life never had the opportunity to play a musical instrument and the Academy offered that golden opportunity.Students at the Academy have not only been practising, but have been rolling out several concerts and public performances.
Chelsea are interested in signing Uruguay international Álvaro Pereira from Porto, according to The People.Pereira, 26, is a left-sided player who can operate at full-back or further forward.It is claimed that Porto rate him at £23m and that Chelsea may offer £13m plus one of their young players.Meanwhile, the Sunday Mirror say Chelsea are keeping tabs on Newcastle’s Danny Simpson after he rejected a new contract at St James’ Park.The People also suggest that QPR manager Mark Hughes is considering signing David Bentley on loan from Tottenham next season.Bentley, who has been out of favour at Spurs for some time, played under Hughes at Blackburn.The England international currently has a knee injury but has been tipped to be fit for the start of next term.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook