Did we think about cancelling? Yes, we did. But we decided to continue all our activities instead. Especially now, the children as well as the adults need music more than ever.
Musicians without Borders trainer Otto de Jong came to Bethlehem in August to give a Music Leadership Training and supervision for the staff of Sounds of Palestine. Social workers, nurses and teachers followed an intensive training in music leadership. Not everyone could reach the training location due to closed roads and checkpoints, but the concentration and motivation of the other participants compensated for this loss. During the last evaluation round, one of the deaf trainees tried to explain what happened to her during the workshops, while tears ran down her cheeks. Her sister took over and said: It is the first time since months that I see my sister laughing! When she calmed down, she added that during the previous months, she had felt hopeless and useless, the training gave her the trust that she was actually capable of being a workshop leader and doing something useful for her community. Another trainee was planning to travel to Gaza as a member of a mental health team, and hoped to use the music activities he had learned with the youth in Gaza.
Alongside this training, Otto joined the first Sounds of Palestine music camp, where he gave daily warm ups to 30 children from Aida and al-Azzeh refugee camp. He supervised the violin, cello, tablah and double bass group lessons and gave workshops for the whole staff in ensemble leading, team work and structuring group lessons.
His extensive experience in training youth orchestras was a great support, especially his tips and suggestions for the first rehearsals with the orchestra formed by all the participants of Sounds of Palestine. These 30 young kids are now all members of Palestine’s first refugee orchestra!
For more pictures of the music camp, please check out the following photo albums: