From left, Myles, Roger and Jazz Gittens. (GP)
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THE BOND BETWEEN Roger Gittens and his two sons is as strong as a bass note. Although he is known in the local musical fraternity as an outstanding composer and arranger, he considers himself to be an ordinary down-to-earth man who is family oriented.
As the head of the performing arts programme at the Barbados Community College (BCC), Roger spends most of his time educating future musicians into harnessing their craft and as an icon he is responsible for the development of music in Barbados.
Despite this, Roger makes time for his children, Myles and Jazz Gittens. He told EASY magazine that he tries to father his boys in the way his father raised him.
“A father is responsible for someone other than himself,” he said.
“He makes sure his children have shelter, food and love and have opportunities to excel at whatever their gifts and talents are. I grew up in a family where all those things were exhibited and I wanted to emulate what my parents did, with my children.
“They taught me the principle of working hard because success doesn’t come easy, to be honest and to trust in God. And they taught me the virtue of being a friend to all regardless of their status in life. These are things I try to instil in my boys but I hope they can see I try to abide by the same principles by the way I live.”
For many years women undertook both roles as parents and headed single-parent households. Roger, however, believes this to be a changing convention in society as men are becoming more aware of their importance.
“Men are stepping up to the plate and are mothering children. I see a lot of men at Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings and taking children to school. In that way more young men are being dads and not fathers and I think that is a good thing.”
When Roger found out that his wife Sharon-Rose was pregnant with their first child he was excited and it did not matter if the child was a boy or girl – he just wanted a healthy, bouncing baby.
“I was present during the delivery for both Myles and Jazz,” he said.
“Some men are not able to handle childbirth but I guess growing up tending to animals helped in that regard.”
Both Myles and Jazz have followed in their dad’s musical footsteps and have participated in the Scotiabank Junior Calypso Monarch competition. Roger said he and wife Sharon may have had something to do with that. He explained that they both made a decision to send the boys to piano and violin lessons, which Roger believes helped develop their love for music. In 2008 Myles won the title with For Our Future and I Want You To Ban in 2010. Younger brother Jazz came first in the competition with Cricket in 2012. Roger also arranged and composed the songs.
“I told them to do their best and not to think of the competition. I told them to enjoy the whole process of making friends and taking in their moment on stage.”
Roger earned a bachelor’s degree in music education at the Berklee College of Music and shortly afterwards he pursued a master’s in that same field of study at the University of North Texas. He believes music is a way of life and allows people to express themselves without speech. It has also become an everyday experience in the family.
“Both boys play music every day and I tend to do the same or to be writing something, so it has a great presence at home, it’s a natural musical environment.”
Though 19-year-old Myles and 16-year-old Jazz have characteristics like their dad, they both have distinct personalities. Myles shows his determination and focuses on whatever it is he wants to do. He is passionate about music and anything he does,” said Roger. Meanwhile Jazz is a quick thinker and the talker between the two. He speaks what is on his mind and he is honest with his feelings.
“I am very proud to be the father of my sons because they do well at school. Myles graduated from the Barbados Community College last year with an associate degree in music and Jazz is awaiting his CXC results. They are also passionate in other activities.
“Jazz plays football and I enjoy going to support him and Myles likes skateboarding and photography. Once they are doing something positive I am satisfied.”
“My father is also very supportive of the boys. He always pushes them to do well at school and in sports and helps out with transportation and purchases things they may need music-wise.
“He is not a big talker but sometimes he gives advice. And Sharon makes sure we are all well dressed and gives the boys a listening ear, maybe more than I do. She tends to be more involved in their social side and more aware of what is happening on social media,” said Roger. (SB)