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home > Our work > Programs > Where We Work > Music Connects (Western Balkans)
Music Connects (Western Balkans)

Our project Music Connects builds on the results of the Mitrovica Rock School and incorporates several of the strategies developed within the Mitrovica Rock School project to connect youth from divided communities through music.

From June 2018 through April 2021, Music Connects combined the efforts of Musicians Without Borders, Fontys Rockacademie (Netherlands), Mitrovica Rock School (Kosovo), Roma Rock School (North Macedonia) and Music School Enterprise (North Macedonia) to give young people the creative tools to transcend the restrictions of growing up in a post-conflict society.

Music Connects brought together over 500 youth for over 10,000 lessons, workshops, band sessions and concerts. Throughout 2021 and beyond, we will continue to serve and connect youth from all communities in Kosovo and North Macedonia.

Mitrovica Rock School

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.

The Mitrovica Rock School opened in 2008, providing daily music lessons that have reached some 1,400 youth. Talented students are offered traineeships, teaching employable skills as sound engineers, music teachers or cultural organizers. At the center of the project sits the program for ethnically mixed bands, who write, record and perform original songs. Since its inception, some 50 ethnically mixed bands have come out of the school.

University collaboration

In 2018, we entered into a partnership with Griffith University and the University of Melbourne to evaluate the project Music Connects. Dr. Gillian Howell conducted a site visit in 2019 and online interviews with participants and other stakeholders in 2021. This resulted in an evaluation report.

Musicians Without Borders will continue its collaboration with the universities, as the participating researchers work towards the publication of journal articles incorporating the research findings.

The full evaluation report is available here.

Documentary

In 2020, video production house Hatched-MV released a feature documentary on Music Connects, as an audiovisual testimony to the power of music to connect people across divides. During the three-year Music Connects project, Hatched-MV filmed crucial events in the project’s development. The full documentary is available here.

News
December 9, 2020
Mitrovica Rock School worked: students of the school found a place where...
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.
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