When we give training in different countries and communities, it’s impossible to know if our activities will actually work with the specific target groups. Each culture has so many subtleties that stay hidden when one is not completely immersed in it for a very long time. But after years of trial and error, we do know more or less which activities work well, especially because they are easily adjusted or changed according to the needs of a group. And some things are always helpful, such as a thorough preparation and lesson plan.
Another useful tool is observation: without knowing the personal background of the children, behavior can be observed and the observations can be used to create a lesson plan. We don’t always have the luxury to have enough time to observe a group before we work with them, but this summer we had this chance:
Marjolijn Boersma, Violin Pedagogy teacher at Codarts, Rotterdam, visited our partner Sounds of Palestine for a few days. One of her students did her internship as a violin teacher for Sounds of Palestine’s Music Summer School, and Marjolijn observed her lessons, as well as other instrument lessons, theory lessons, choir and orchestra. Because she had observed both teachers and students for hours, she could identify the needs and strengths of both target groups. The information gained during observation was important to prepare a relevant training to Sounds of Palestine’s teachers.
They learned about lesson planning and structure, putting more musical elements in their teaching and connecting different elements in their lessons. Visits of international artists and teachers help us to feel less isolated, to improve our skills and to get inspired, and it’s especially helpful if they have enough time to really see our work, to see the students, to see the daily challenges we are facing.
Many thanks to Codarts for supporting Marjolijn’s trip and many thanks to Marjolijn for sharing her time and knowledge with us!