When we’re working with people to be creative music leaders we think on two levels – the creativity of the leaders themselves; and the process of inviting creativity from workshop participants. Last week this was our focus during the third week of training for our team of trainees from Burundi who are living as refugees at Mahama camp in Rwanda. The reason we emphasize creativity on these levels is that the context and the needs of young people in the camp demand it.
Both the leaders and the young people with whom they work in the camp have lived through the violence and separation of displacement. Their futures have been insecure, their thoughts and way of life have been oppressed. Creativity can provide the expression and means to process that experience. It accesses the fundamental imagination that allows someone to move forward with trauma and uncertainty.
In music workshops creativity can be expressed at every stage – from the leaders’ preparation to a child’s performance. Last week we asked the trainees to run workshops that invited creativity from participants through drumming, song-writing and movement. Then to reach that point, we asked them to use their creativity to first invite the village community to participate in the workshops. They rose to this challenge, taking their music to the people and talking with parents and young people, inviting them to join us.
As trainers we stood back, allowing the trainees to take control. We heard their success approaching. Young people including street children alongside youth from a local church group, and neighbours accompanied by their parents ran towards us, playing and singing with the leaders.
Peace and love,
In September 2012, Chris Nicholson set up a music therapy program for people living with HIV and AIDS at a clinic in urban central Rwanda. In September 2013 he returned to continue his therapy work with vulnerable HIV+ adolescents and to establish a training program in Music & Health. He is Project Manager of Rwanda Youth Music and Tanzania Youth Music. Prior to his involvement with music therapy, Chris had an international performance and teaching career as a classical guitarist. He studied classical guitar at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and in Spain with maestros José Tomas and Alex Garrobé.