At the end of January, Musicians without Borders returned to Northern Ireland to lead the second of a four-part training in community music leadership at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin. Otto de Jong and Marijke Smedema led the Music Bridge trainees in four full days of training in workshop leadership, nonviolence, movement, conducting and singing. The trainees engaged with the training material in a playful and creative way while deepening their understanding in how to lead community music workshops for children affected by conflict.
On the third day of the training, our trainees led workshops for children in the community, showcasing the progress they have made as leaders and community musicians. The importance of play emerged for the trainees as a valuable tool for connecting with children as they led them through experiences of singing, dancing, and playing music together.
Part of the guiding philosophy of Musicians without Borders is that community music workshops create a space for children where they can have fun, express themselves, and play together. They have the freedom to simply “be kids,” a rare opportunity for children dealing with the daily stress of living in a post or present conflict environment.
In a playful way, children can explore their creativity and learn skills that help them cope with challenging life events. Our community music workshops seek to empower children as well as encourage their personal and creative development. We will continue to explore these concepts with the Music Bridge trainees in the coming year.