On a sunny Thursday in Northern Ireland, a group of people gathered together to perform a rain dance. Many of them – musicians, music therapists and community workshop leaders – had only met for the first time and were about to embark on a four day journey into community music making together.
Music Bridge is a community music training program initiated by Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin in partnership with Musicians without Borders. The training program focuses on the uses of music to develop leadership and facilitation skills in adult trainees. In turn, the trainees will find work placements to use these skills to address the needs of children living in vulnerable circumstances throughout Derry-Londonderry.
The first training period offered participants the opportunity to build new skills in singing, dancing, body percussion and drumming. The trainers – Danny Felsteiner and Chris Colleye – employed a wide range of musical games and activities during the sessions that allowed participants to break out of their comfort zone. Despite many being experienced workshop leaders, the trainees found new ways of engaging with a group using nonverbal communication and creative musical approaches.
The importance of improvisation, playfulness, and being in the moment emerged as significant themes for the participants during the training. The trainees commented that the skills gained from the experience were not only practical and applicable within a wide variety of settings, but also transformative for them on a personal level.
In between trainings, the trainees will put these skills into practice within community settings under the supervision of a local music coach. We look forward to following their progress and to the next training at the end of January!