Lawman making notes for the future
THE ROYAL BARBADOS Police Force Band has been hailed internationally for its outstanding performances. Trombonist Samuel Millington is proud to share that stage, and he is even more enthusiastic now that he has added another feather to his musical cap.
The young Coleridge & Parry student who displayed remarkable aptitude for music when he was at school has bloomed into an accomplished musician; and at age 32 can boast achievements to which many others still aspire.
Millington returned to Barbados last December with a Master of Arts degree in music from Toronto’s York University under his belt – his second degree obtained after a three-year course of study made possible through the National Development Scholarship he was awarded in 2015.
The soft-spoken musician is regarded by some as a child prodigy when they consider his achievements. At age four he was singing at his primary school St Christopher Boys’.
By the time he was 12 and a student of the Coleridge & Parry School, he was winning awards, being part of the school’s NIFCA-award winning band and steel orchestra between 1996 and 2001.
Also while at Coleridge & Parry, under the guidance of John Bryan, organist at the Cathedral of St Michael and All Angels, he scored a big success, topping the marks in the entire Commonwealth, in Grade 8, the highest grade in the practical examination set by Trinity College, London.
Coleridge & Parry music teacher Joy Knight-Lynch certainly knew talent when she spotted it in the young Millington. With some assistance from her husband Andrew Lynch who is now acting deputy director of the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, she took this young student with so much promise, under her wing.
Again, the opportunity to attend an international music camp in North Dakota, United States, when he was just 14, gave Millington one of the early breaks in his musical career that served to advance his development.
He gives credit to David Weatherhead director of the Barbados National Youth Orchestra, for facilitating that trip during which he met Dr Robert Gifford, chair of Southeast Missouri University.
“Dr Gifford introduced me to virtuoso pieces in classical music and, subsequently, the music that he gave me, as an annual contributor to the arts at NIFCA after leaving school, I was able to compete playing some of that music.”
It was one such piece – The Blue Bells of Scotland – by composer Arthur Pryor that won Millington the Governor General’s Award at NIFCA.
But the road to success has been far from smooth for the police officer and bandsman. He lost his mother when he was just eight and he confesses the path to his latest achievement has been rocky.
Millington refuses to allow bad experiences of the past to define him or be obstructions to his life ahead.
Right now he is focused on continuing to build on a musical career with which he is consumed. The Royal Barbados Police Force Band maintains a heavy year-round schedule. As a member since 2005, Millington believes he has an obligation to give full commitment to his part as a trombonist.
“I always thank my superiors in the band for allowing me to go to do the first degree in law and society at York University” Millington said; and he aced it, making the Dean’s List and graduating with honours.
As both police officer and police bandsman he decided to “get the best of both worlds” first pursuing the degree in social legal studies for the policing experience and following up with the Master’s in music “which will now put me in a category where I am not only just seen as a musician”.
“I wanted to show that musicians can have other abilities. What I am trying to do is to encourage other musicians to be rounded.”
On that rare occasion he dons his police officer’s uniform, you might see him maintaining law and order at a Crop Over event, or in a similar capacity elsewhere. But much of his time is spent at the St Cecilia Barracks, the home base of the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, where sweet music is made and played.
Millington, though proud of the band’s history and accomplishments, is eager to see the band move on from yesterday’s stage to today’s musical reality.
“There will be people in the country who care for classics; there are others who care for ballads. What I am trying to suggest is a rebirthing in the Police Band – a balance of classical or standard western music, as well as our cultural music.”
When he entered the Police Training School in 2005 he may have been a greenhorn at policing, but he was definitely not in the dark when he joined the band. A sound musical foundation was already there.
Eventually, the door of opportunity to do one of the main things of his focus right now, which is engage in band management and conduct, may open and he knows he is equipped to walk through. But it is playing his trombone in the Royal Barbados Police Force Band that he will enjoy for a long time.
In the meantime, he just wants to continue excelling and demonstrating what an associate professor at Trinity College wrote about him – “a remarkable ability as a trombonist”.