For the love of music

Written By : CAROLINE DELAIVONI. A farm boy who toiled daily at his family orchard farm in Navua, one day proved critics wrong that dreams do come true through hard
01 Aug 2008 12:00

image Written By : CAROLINE DELAIVONI. A farm boy who toiled daily at his family orchard farm in Navua, one day proved critics wrong that dreams do come true through hard work, patience and perseverance.
Sammy Stephens who is of Fijian and Samoan descent is a guitar lecturer at the Fiji Institute Technology at the Raiwai Campus is only 24-years-old.
And he has been with the FIT Music Department in the Faculty of Humanities, Communication and Creative Arts since 2006.
You could mistakenly think Sammy was one of the students at the institute if he strolled by along the campus corridors until a student calls out “Master”.
And just like any other ordinary young man, he indeed has a down-to-earth personality that easily allows his students adapt to his teachings and have high respect toward him.
Sammy left the country on August 2 on a French scholarship to undertake a French Guitar Technique Course at the Conservatoire of Music in New Caledonia.
This is the first French scholarship awarded to institute – a sandwich course on a six by two weeks basis. This means Sammy will spend two intensive weeks of study in Noumea and return for two months and this will go on a series of five training sessions, spreading for a whole year.
And elated Sammy said hard work has finally paid off and that all the knowledge he will gain will be transplanted back to his students.
He is married to a music teacher and with a smile on his face added the love of music brought them together and they always complemented each other in every way.
Sammy’s father hails from Susui village in Vanuabalavu, Lau while his mother is Samoan.
He had his formal education in Music in 2001 at the Christian Mission Fellowship School of Psalmist, attaining a Certificate in Music majoring in guitar.
The artist had always been a free lance musician entertaining in the areas of music from “R n B”, jazz, rock, to name a few.
In 2006, he completed a Certificate and Diploma of Music from FIT, a major in guitar and minors in saxophone and piano.
The same year, he was employed by the institute as he undertook a registered guitar tutoring course from the London College of Music.
Sammy is a member of the Fiji Musicians Associations.
The 24-year-old, an ex-Marist Brother’s High School student was a commerce student way back in high school.
But with his love for music and the fact that his family were mostly musicians, he started taking the profession seriously.
Ironically he was only introduced to his best friend, the guitar at 18 and had to take private lesions from renowned guitarists Mike Raymond, John Fong and Nemani Vanua.
“For me, it’s just the love of music that I lay my career on and the support from my family.
My parents asked me at first if this was what I really want. I said yes! From then on, I never regretted taking this path into the music world.”
Sammy said in Fiji the marketing the music industry is weak and the mindset of people is always negative – that there is not future in the music industry.
He said there is a market and encouraged all music lovers not to give up on their dreams easily but to focus and strive for excellence.
Sammy’s dedicated voluntary services to the Alliance Francaise in association with the French Music Festival over the past two years landed him this scholarship.
FIT General Manager Academic Services, Alifereti Cawanibuka thanked the French government for the award saying that he is sure Sammy will make full use of this award while in New Caledonia.
He added the students will also benefit from his training as he will impart the knowledge he gains from his training.
“This scholarship will be a great boost for FIT in the musical training and development of its staff in this particular area. Sammy’s training in Noumea will auger well in the development of young and future guitarists in Fiji,” Mr Cawanibuka said.
French Embassy Cooperation Attache, Adeline Bervine said the project of sending Sammy to New Caledonia was born in March this year during the bonjour Festival organized by the French Embassy and Alliance Francaise.
Ms Bervine said the French Embassy has a long history of supporting Fijian artists and especially musicians through major events such as the Fiji music festival.
“This premiering cooperation project will not only improve Sammy’s personal level of playing, it will also raise the standard of teaching for all FIT students,” Ms Bervine said.

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