Musicians Without Borders - War Divides, Music Connects » Connecting Through Music: Music Making in Suchitoto
 
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Posts Tagged ‘music therapy’

Connecting Through Music: Music Making in Suchitoto

As we wrap up 2018, enjoy 6 different powerful stories on our programs, the day-to-day challenges we face, and how we use music to transform lives. Our second story comes from Miguel Ortega, Program Manager of Soy Música

 

by Miguel Ortega

“We are born with creativity, we just need the space to develop it. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect, but if we feel creative, we should be able to create something without fear or complex. Soy Música is such a positive learning for me, that after being in the workshops, I try to put it into practice at all times, with my family, friends, neighbors. This helps me to be a better person. Just open our minds and make a change in our lives.” Soy Música trainee, 2018

 

Working in places like El Salvador, we find ourselves, many times, in environments and communities where music has never been introduced before. Last February, the town of Suchitoto, was one of these places. Suchitoto has lived through the worst of the El Salvadoran civil war, it is presently a town that is striving to become a national cultural point of reference.

 

Arriving for our 3rd week of training with Soy Música program, with 35 teachers and facilitators, our aim was to encourage the trainees and participants to embrace creativity, while ensuring we rid ourselves of prejudgements and attitudes; our main focus was to empower the group to work together to tell their story through song.
It was our third time at this particular school in Suchitoto. Like many schools in the area, there was no music program, for many of the children, this would be their first musical experience. We opened a door to creativity and the students were quick to catch on, enthusiastically creating lyrics, melodies, and movements that told a story.

 

In a society that is still suffering from the effects of civil war conflicts, we know the importance of not only creating a space where the children are able to unleash their creativity but space where they can feel heard. Soy Música aims to bring social change and break the cycle of violence in the whole territory of El Salvador. Beginning with the teachers, we create spaces for creation, understanding and connection, space where our trainees are empowered to go through a personal change and later bring that change to others.

 

Support our work in El Salvador today. Your donations, big and small, help us deliver programs that impact thousands of people every day. Donate today and become a friend for just €5 a month!

 

 

Connecting Through Music: Music Making in Dura

As we wrap up 2018, enjoy 6 different powerful stories on our programs, the day-to-day challenges we face, and how we use music to transform lives. Our first story comes from Fabienne van Eck, Palestine Community Music Program Manager who shares a story about music making in Dura.

 

by Fabienne van Eck

Working in a place like Palestine confronts us with many daily challenges; it’s easy to be swallowed by the obstacles and forget why we are doing this work. Most areas we work in are isolated, and occasionally, we find ourselves working with schools that initially need to be convinced by the Headmistress, that music making will indeed serve their students. It’s these isolated areas that prove to be the most rewarding for our music workshops; not only do the children end with happy smiling faces, but the teachers have also requested that we conduct music workshops with them. Our workshop in Dura is an example where the school and teachers not only requested a music workshop, but also requested training on how to conduct the workshops themselves.

 

Honest Communication

 

Initially invited by the Red Crescent Society in Dura to give a workshop to 30 children and youth with special needs, we arrived to the workshop and found a group of children, ages 4 to 20, with varying special needs. Some children were able to talk and sing, and accompanied by the teachers and caretakers, we formed a circle. Beginning with some body percussion, to warm up, and also to gauge the possibilities of the group, we added new movements to the warm up routine, all inspired directly by the movements the children themselves were making.

While some groups copy your movements and sounds exactly, it’s truly refreshing to work with groups who do not imitate you, but incorporate their own movements or variations of movements. However, one aspect of these workshops that make it extra special, is that most of the children are not very vocal, so the communication takes place on another, more direct, deeper level. While words can get in the way of true and honest communication, these participants can show us directly if they like something or not. The contact is made through the music.

 

Speaking the Same Language

 

With a group of children with special needs, no ‘extra’ communication tools are available. The group is free from communication tools created by society or culture, which is what makes workshops like these extra rewarding. For example, when we play a dancing game, everyone is focused on the sound of the tablah – we become connected and ‘speak the same language’, regardless of the lack of words we use.

Following the workshop, the director made note at how concentrated and involved the children were, and have since, expressed a need for weekly music workshops. Since it’s not sustainable to travel once a week to Dura, we offered their twelve teachers and caretakers training in 2019. At Musicians Without Borders, we work to create long-term solutions and by training the staff, the people who are closest to these children, can provide them with music workshops and enjoy and share in their new language.

 

Support our work in Palestine today. Your donations, big and small, help us deliver programs that impact thousands of people every day. Donate today and become a friend for just €5 a month!

 

 

Building a House of Music

by Fabienne van Eck

The best part of my work is when I learn new things from the children or adults we work with. Last year, we started a second cycle with our partners Music as Therapy International and trained six Palestinian social workers, educators and musicians in using Music as Therapy as a tool to reach developmental and behavioral goals.

 

After studying eight monthly tutorials and writing assignments, the trainees gave eight Music as Therapy sessions to small groups of four children, from the Dheisheh and Al-Azzeh refugee camps.

 

In his last Music as Therapy session, Ahmad, the session leader, created a game where the children could practice and develop their skills in leadership, cooperation and listening to each other. They were given the freedom to create a house or structure from the furniture in the room, after which they used their new home as a large musical instrument. They used the structure to create sounds and played the lead-repeat game, in which one child plays a rhythm which is repeated by the rest of the group.

It has been amazing to see witness how these children have changed. Hearing about how the children cooperated and seeing these pictures were especially touching for me because I know the children for a few years now and I have witnessed their challenges in life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community Music Leader Development

Once a month our on-going training program for MwB Community Music Leaders and trainees in Rwanda pauses for a concert, as the young leaders perform for each other. This week guitarists, drummers and bass players performed together a collection of songs for children and teenagers.

Guitar concert

The team of MwB Community Music Leaders and trainees meet at Kigali Music School for their on-going training and support. Professional musicians Yves, Espoir and Bonani teach the young leaders to play guitar, bass, drums and in singing technique. These are skills that enhance the leaders’ musicality, allowing them to use increasingly complex musical approaches in workshops with children. They are also skills that the leaders share freely during support activities.

Guitar support

In Rwanda there are currently 25 trained MwB Community Music Leaders in our team. This year 29 more will graduate from our training program. These 29 young leaders come from four community organizations that work with HIV-affected and conflict-affected children. Over the next year (with your support!) we will train a further 90 young people, including young refugees, young people affected by war on the DRC-Rwanda border, and young HIV-affected people, to be leaders in their communities using music and nonviolence.

The current team work every week offering regular musical support to 600 children, and they are employed by Musicians without Borders to lead music outreach events that benefit an average of 120 vulnerable children each month.

Next month we hope to announce the start of a new initiative employing the MwB Community Music Leaders to run workshops to benefit 2000 more children over the coming year.

Chris

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 train staff 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 Jose Tomas and Alex Garrobe.

Ribbits in Rwanda

With the frog scraper, you scrape a stick across the instrument’s wooden back and it produces the “ribbit” of a frog.  The frog’s carved mouth opens into a hollowed out belly that resonates with a surprisingly loud and convincing sound.  Detailed feet and eyes and little nostrils are etched with character, and the triangular spines on its back appear decorative until their musical purpose is revealed.  I bought my frog scraper two years ago in Burma, and it was beaten up then; perhaps bruised from centuries of use, or perhaps dropped and damaged that day on the way to market.  Either way, it’s captivating in its appearance and musical effectiveness.

Last year I spent 6 months in Rwanda, working at a clinic for people living with HIV, on placement as a student music therapist. Last week I arrived back, qualified, to spend 9 months working at the clinic providing music therapy to adolescent patients.  I’ve spent the past 10 days reuniting with friends and colleagues, and scheduling the music therapy groups that I will work with.  Yesterday I was introduced to a group of young mothers and I explained the possibility of including music therapy in their group’s support.

Everywhere in the world mothers sing to their children. They use lullabies to calm, and they use songs with actions and movements to conjure a smile or a response from their children.  In healthy relationships music enables interaction and communication when words aren’t yet understood.  Babies gurgle and giggle and scream to communicate their needs, and mothers judge the pitch, tempo and intensity of the sounds to measure their response.  In fact it is the tone, rhythm, pitch, volume and melody of sounds and gestures that allow communication between mothers and their babies.  So the group of young mothers very quickly understood what music therapy – using music as a means of therapeutic communication and interaction – might mean.

Three members of the group participated in music therapy with me last year, and the instrument they instantly recall is the frog scraper.  Yesterday, when asked about the instruments they had played, the three women gestured a scraping action.  Fortunately I had the instrument with me – I’ve learnt to carry some instruments even when I’m just being introduced!  When I pulled the instrument out of my bag it generated interest.  When I played it the women’s eyes lit up with laughter.  Quickly it was taken from my hands and was ribbiting around the room.

Chris


In September 2012, Chris Nicholson set up a music therapy program for people living with HIV and AIDS at a clinic in central Rwanda. In September 2013, he returned for 9 months to continue his therapy work with vulnerable HIV+ adolescents and to train staff in Music & Health.  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 Jose Tomas and Alex Garrobe.