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WAR DIVIDES, MUSIC CONNECTS
Using music to bridge divides, connect communities,
and heal the wounds of war and conflict.

Our projects focus on personal transformation, and perhaps the most transformative experience is from trainee to trainer. Talented participants are offered traineeships, where they work as assistant workshop leaders and in various other leadership roles.

Trainees receive peer-to-peer teaching from local trainers and gain valuable professional experience through their daily work. Where possible, trainees receive coaching from external experts who travel to the project location, or we arrange travel to give trainees educational opportunities abroad. Many former trainees have graduated into leadership positions and are now coaching the next generation of trainees, while others have gone on to achieve success in related fields outside our organization. Especially in areas of high unemployment and limited access to educational opportunities, traineeships are a vital investment in local talent and in the sustainability of our projects.

Rwanda Youth Music

In May 2017, in Kigali we began the first Community Music Leadership training fully facilitated by a Rwandan training team. Two professional musicians, Yves and Espoir, work with experienced Community Music Leaders, and deliver the complete Musicians without Borders curriculum. This is the realisation of our trainees to trainers model.

In Uganda: Rwandan Community Music Leader working as an assistant trainer

The first group of Community Music Leaders in Rwanda began training with Musicians without Borders in 2011. They embraced the skills quickly, giving support to 100s of children in their communities through music-making. An outreach program, working with children across Rwanda expanded their experience and skills further. Weekly music lessons built their knowledge. In 2015 when we began a new training program in Moshi, Tanzania, we invited some of the Rwandan Community Music Leaders to come and share their knowledge and their culture. This was the first time we had employed our Rwandan team as assistant trainers.

The success in Tanzania led us to replicate the model in future trainings in Rwanda and recently in Uganda. Last year two of the team travelled to the Netherlands to attend and international Musicians without Borders Training of Trainers. This year, two more will make the trip – hopefully including Leontine.

Leontine was one of the first group of trainees in Rwanda. She has gone on to be employed as a music teacher at a local pre-school. She has worked as a trainer for Musicians without Borders in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Here she is in 2014, explaining some of her story:

Music Bridge Northern Ireland

Amanda leading a community music workshop at Culturlann Ui Chanain, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland

The aim of the Music Bridge program is to create a sustainable community music service in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Following the first training year, we invited Amanda Koser-Gillespie, one of our graduated trainees, to attend our Training of Trainers in the Netherlands, to prepare her with the necessary skills to serve as the first local assistant trainer in the Music Bridge program. Amanda has now assisted and led training weeks alongside her role as the local music coach, providing weekly support for our trainees and coordinating music workshops for schools and community groups.

Amanda: “I found that while working in (music) education and peacebuilding, my emotional and pedagogical tools begin to show their wear and tear over time. I have participated in other projects with MwB that have helped to restock some of the tools needed so that I may continue working in this field. The ‘Training of Trainers’ allowed me to walk into the woods, plant the seeds, cultivate the growth and reshape the tools I can pass on to others the way some were passed onto to me.”

Mitrovica Rock School

The Mitrovica Rock School first developed traineeships in response to gaps in the employment market. In a medium-sized town whose cultural scene had been devastated by the war, it was simply impossible to find qualified teachers in bass guitar and pop vocals. On the other hand we had students who were so advanced in those skills that we could not offer them any program, so the first traineeships were born. Since then, the Mitrovica Rock School enrolled 17 of its students in traineeships, nine of whom graduated into staff positions. Former student-trainees hold central positions on the Rock School’s faculty and management. Other former trainees have gone on to professional musicianship and other professional positions.

Emir (center) during sound engineering traineeship 2011

After participating in several Rock School activities, Emir Hasani (1992) started as a trainee sound engineer in 2011, studying studio recording and live sound engineering with various trainers from the Fontys Rockacademie (NL). While his main instrument is the guitar, Emir developed as a multi-instrumentalist and was assessed by the Rockacademie as suitable to teach keyboard, vocals, and music theory. He graduated into a full teaching position in 2015, and was recruited as a project manager in 2016. Emir was in the Rock School’s longest running ethnically mixed band, the Artchitects, alongside three other former student-trainees who are now teachers at the Rock School. He is currently finalizing his studies in formal music education and pedagogy.

Emir (center) coaching mixed band Morana in 2017

Emir: “The Mitrovica Rock School influenced me both professionally and personally. It gave me the opportunity to learn and teach music, meet lot of different people and develop myself in different fields. It makes me proud to see our students grow into real musicians and change our city for the better.”