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home > Our work > Programs > Where We Work > Western Balkans
Western Balkans

The Kosovo war left the city of Mitrovica divided. Albanians live south of the river Ibar, Serbs to the north, almost completely isolated from each other. Musicians on both sides of Mitrovica tell the same story: Mitrovica’s rock heritage had been decimated by the conflict, and largely replaced by nationalist turbo-folk. The idea was born of a rock music school, to be shared by youth from both sides.

Since 2008, the Mitrovica Rock School has connected some 1,200 youth through music. In 2018, two rock schools in North Macedonia joined the Kosovo musicians of Mitrovica Rock School in Music Connects. This project delivers thousands of music activities to Serb, Albanian, Macedonian, Roma and other youth.

Mitrovica Rock School

Our first success towards founding the school was a summer camp on ‘neutral territory’ in Skopje, in neighboring North-Macedonia. In just 8 days, ethnically mixed bands worked with local musicians and trainers from Fontys Rockacademie towards a beautiful concert in the city park. Just two months after the Summer School, in 2008,  the school opened. 

Mitrovica Rock School now works on both sides of the city, bringing back a rock music tradition that’s been a source of pride for everyone in Mitrovica. The school connects Serb and Albanian teenagers through mixed bands, and supports their self-expression through modern pop music education. The curriculum was developed in collaboration with Fontys Rockacademie, who to this day partner with us by sending both teachers and students to Mitrovica and Skopje to exchange knowledge and experience. 

These days, bands no longer have to go to Skopje to work together. Along with regular rehearsals and mixed workshops, we organize training weeks for mixed bands, and over the past two years, we’ve worked to make our dream of a professional studio in the school a reality. 

Music Connects

Music Connects is a project supported by Creative Twinning, a program of Netherlands Enterprise Agency, and other donors.

This project not only expands the Mitrovica Rock School’s audio engineering program, but also gives more attention to songwriting and band-coaching. This work improves the process of capturing all the wonderful music being made by the young musicians.

Music Connects includes the start up of Roma Rock School, integrating Roma youth in Macedonian society, and mixing elements of traditional Roma music with rock music. It also promotes multi-ethnic music education to Music School Enterprise.

The three schools come together regularly for training weeks, and once a year for the project’s high point: the Skopje Summer School. During this week, ethnically mixed bands write, rehearse and record songs together, culminating in a huge public concert in the city park.

Documentary

Video production house Hatched-MV is producing a feature documentary on Music Connects, as an audiovisual testimony to the power of music to connect people across divides. During the 2.5-year Music Connects project, Hatched-MV will film crucial events in the project’s development. The feature documentary is planned for release in 2020.

News
May 31, 2020
Hometown shows seem like a given for any new band. But up until recently, that wasn't how it worked in Mitrovica, Kosovo.
April 16, 2020
In January 2020, we began a very exciting new collaboration across Musicians Without Borders programs, bringing the expertise of the Mitrovica Rock School to Rwanda Youth Music’s team of passionate Community Music Leaders.
March 8, 2020
For International Women’s Day this year, we asked women from the MWB network about their favorite female artists and the songs that mean the most to each of them. 
Videos
February 1, 2018
Proximity Mine - Set Me Free

Proximity Mine’s new music video, recorded in Vienna and directed, filmed and produced for the Mitrovica Rock School by Hatched-MV: hatched-mv.com

November 16, 2017
2017 Skopje Summer School

Mitrovica Rock School kicked off its anniversary year with our tenth annual summer school.

October 9, 2017
Rootless - Fantasy

Music video ‘Fantasy’ by ethnically mixed band Rootless, a high-energy dream team formed by highly talented, long-term students of our Mitrovica Rock School.

July 6, 2017
Neverland - You Don't Care

Neverland, a mixed Mitrovica Rock School band, recorded in May 2017 at the Mitrovica Rock School.

April 18, 2017
Proximity Mine needs your help!

Mixed band Proximity Mine are from Mitrovica (Kosovo), a city completely divided by war. They are setting an example to their generation, and they need your help.

January 30, 2017
Proximity Mine - Sorry Mom

Proximity Mine, a mixed band formed by students of the Mitrovica Rock School, recorded January 2017 at the Mitrovica Rock School.

 

January 1, 2017
Sublime 6 - Battery

Acoustic version of Battery by mixed Mitrovica Rock School band Sublime 6. Sublime 6 was formed in 2013 under the Rock School’s Ambassador Band Program.

January 15, 2017
Akasha - Fire

Acoustic version of Fire by mixed Mitrovica Rock School band Akasha

August 28, 2016
2016 Summer School

The 2016 Summer School for ethnically mixed bands organized by the Mitrovica Rock School, August 21 to 28, 2016.

August 27, 2016
Proximity Mine - MWAH (live)

Live recording of Proximity Mine, an ethnically mixed band formed in August 2016 by students of the Mitrovica Rock School.

August 27, 2016
High Frequency - No Way Out (live)

Live recording of High Frequency, an ethnically mixed band formed in August 2016 by students of the Mitrovica Rock School.

August 1, 2015
2015 Remix Band Camp

The 2015 Remix Band Camp of the Mitrovica Rock School, where students from the Rock School’s north and south branches worked in ethnically mixed bands and wrote, recorded and performed their own songs.

 

June 1, 2015
The Suck of Psychotic - Lost In Love

Music video of ethnically mixed Mitrovica Rock School band The Suck of Psychotic

 

October 1, 2014
Astral Dreamers - Scream

Music video of ethnically mixed Mitrovica Rock School band Astral Dreamers

 

August 1, 2014
2014 Ambassador Band Camp

At the 2014 Ambassador Band Camp, four ethnically mixed bands from the divided city of Mitrovica, Kosovo, came together in neighboring Macedonia to write, record and perform their own songs.

May 1, 2014
Mitrovica Rock School at TEDx

Rock School co-founder Wendy Hassler-Forest of Musicians without Borders speaks at TEDx Tirana about what it has meant to set up an inter-ethnic rock music school in a town as rigidly divided as Mitrovica.

November 1, 2013
The Artchitects - Let It Go

The Rock School’s first Ambassador Band, the Artchitects, was formed in 2011. After a one-year break in 2012-2013, they got together again in August 2013 with a brand new sound. Let It Go was the first song written after the band regrouped.

November 1, 2013
Sublime 6 - The Animals

Sublime 6 was formed in August 2013 and immediately faced a set-back when two of its members left the band. The band got back together in November 2013, with a new drummer and now only five members, and continues to this day writing and performing under the name Sublime 6.

August 1, 2013
2013 Ambassador Band Camp

From August 25 to September 1, four Ambassador Bands of the Mitrovica Rock School rehearsed, recorded and performed in Skopje, Macedonia. Schism, Sublime 6, the Toe May Toes and the Artchitects came together to finish songs they wrote in Mitrovica.

August 1, 2011
2011 Skopje Summer School

Every year since 2008, the Mitrovica Rock School has brought young musicians from north and south Mitrovica together at the annual Skopje Summer School. At the Summer School, students work in mixed bands towards a big concert in the Skopje City Park.

Photos
July 27, 2018
School’s out & the summer school is in! Meet some of our 2018 Skopje Summer School participants.
August 24, 2017
Our Mitrovica Rock School is hosting its 10th annual summer school this week in Skopje, Macedonia, where students come together from both sides of the divided city of Mitrovica to write, record and perform original songs.
December 9, 2016
On December 8, 2016, a team from our Mitrovica Rock School in Kosovo met...
November 23, 2016
Meet the teachers at Musicians without Borders' rock music school in Mitrovica, Kosovo. Learn more about the Mitrovica Rock School here: https://musicianswithoutborders.org/projects/mitrovica-rock-school/overview/
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