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

What are the learning objectives of the Advanced Community Music Training Program?

The training shares the knowledge and skills of Musicians without Borders’ trainers with individuals from a variety of musical levels and backgrounds who are actively involved or wish to be involved in different programs combining music and social change. Participants will deepen their leadership skills while exploring concepts related to creativity, improvisation, and nonviolence. They will learn how to facilitate music workshops that strengthen communities through bridging divides and creating empathic connections between people within an inclusive and safe environment.

Outcomes:

  • Participants will be able to use music as a tool for inclusion and bridging divides within various community settings;
  • Participants will gain a clear understanding of the concept of nonviolence and will be able to carry out this philosophy in practical activities;
  • Participants will be able to adapt pedagogical and didactic forms of working that are based on creating a safe environment;
  • Specific to our Training of Trainers: Participants will be able to lead a training for workshop leaders informed by the principles of Musicians without Borders.

What kind of experience should a trainee have in order to participate?

The training is open to musicians who are active as workshop leaders, teachers or social activists and wish to develop their knowledge of using music as a tool for peace-building and social change. Trainees need to have a high degree of musicianship with the ability to simplify and break down the elements of music making. This is necessary in order to lead and teach workshop participants at any level of musicianship. Trainees must be able to demonstrate empathic sensitivity and active listening skills, which are key elements of fostering positive relationships within a group based on an ethos of mutual respect.

What does the content of the training focus on?

The training addresses skills across four subject areas: pedagogical, didactic, musical, and workshop leadership.

Pedagogical skills refer to the behavior and attitude of the workshop leader. Strong pedagogical skills can enhance emotional and social well-being, receptiveness of participants, and feeling of safety within the group. These are crucial in (post) conflict areas. The workshop leader uses didactic skills to transfer knowledge and build competence within the group. This refers to the how of leadership. Workshop leadership skills define the preparation needed to carry out a workshop. This involves preparation of the structure and content of the workshop, ensuring optimal environmental conditions, and taking an inventory of the materials needed.

We focus on how to use music as a tool for peace-building and social change. This requires a high degree of musicianship from the trainees as the training. We do not provide musical instruction per se, rather we use musical activities such as drum circle facilitation, singing, movement, songwriting, and improvisation in order to illustrate and fully utilize the power of music and nurture a culture of nonviolence.

Our Training of Trainers prepares participants to be able to train other workshop leaders using these principles.

What target groups does the training address?

Musicians without Borders trains (adult) workshop leaders to work predominantly with children and young adults and teach others to do so as well, with the understanding that introducing skills related to cooperative music making and nonviolence at a young age can help to influence social change across generations. While some activities that we use in the training are child-oriented, we encourage our trainees to think creatively to adapt these activities for their own target groups through small group work. We also see the inherent value of playfulness that are embedded in these activities as useful skill sets to explore across age groups, encouraging creativity, helping to construct valuable problem solving skills and building empathy among participants.

How does MwB view the nature of their work as relating to peace-building and social change, particular to conflict regions?

Musicians without Borders grounds its approach to peace-building in the conviction that, while cultural differences often come to play a role in war and armed conflict, they are almost never the real root of the conflict, but often the tools of those who benefit from the conflict.

While we often work in places that have been divided along ‘ethnic’ or ‘cultural’ lines, ‘intercultural dialogue’, as it is usually understood, is not part of the practice of Musicians without Borders. The idea of ‘intercultural dialogue’ implies that the problems of post-war communities have their roots in cultural differences and can be addressed by bringing representatives of the different ‘cultures’ into contact and engaging them in conversation with each other.

To support processes of re-connection without identifying people by ethnic or cultural labels, Musicians without Borders works to create a neutral musical space in which participants can both identify themselves and relate to each other primarily through music. We take their talents, passions and potentials seriously and offer them real chances for musical growth and creative development, contact and connection with individuals they may not otherwise have the chance to meet. We then trust the music to do its work and leave it to them to choose whether, and how, to meet ‘the other’ outside the musical space. What we invariably see is friendships emerging, along with empowerment and a feeling of relief at not being primarily defined by ethnicity, religion or culture.

Is there research or publications that further describe MwB’s work?

There is a wide range of literature available on the field of community music. MwB’s work has been featured in articles published in The Oxford Handbook of Social Justice in Music Education as well as The Palgrave Handbook of Global Arts Education. Together with Peace One Day, we published a music workshop manual, Sounds of Peace. We have also published our own online manual for Music Workshop Leaders, based on our work in current and post conflict regions.

Currently, we are collaborating with Queen’s University Belfast as part of a multi-year research study: Sounding Conflict: From Resistance to Reconciliation.

Will I have the opportunity to work with MwB after the training?

The contexts in which Musicians without Borders work are often fragile and challenging. Resources can be limited, and the difficulties faced by people can be extreme. The trust that has been developed with our partners and their beneficiaries is vital, and the well-being of participants in our programs is always our primary concern. When we do have occasional openings in our international projects, we have to consider any placement of personnel very carefully. Therefore, only a select number of training participants may have the opportunity to work as a ‘trainer intern’ within one of our programs. This consideration would be based on a mutual fit between the skill sets of the individual and the needs of the program and would be on a voluntary basis.

In what ways has the training program benefited previous participants?

You can read testimonials from past training participants here.

Are there scholarships available for the training?

We cannot offer any scholarships at this time. however we do recommend the following funding resources supporting artist mobility:

The Prins Claus Ticket Fund supports travel costs for cultural professionals living in developing countries. Applications must be sent 8 weeks prior to travel.

STEP Beyond Travel Grants are designed for up-and-coming artists and cultural workers to travel between EU and EFTA (European Free Trade Association), and countries bordering the EU. Priority is given to individuals who are under 35 years old and/or who are in the first 10 years of their career. Applications must be submitted 60 days prior to travel.

TransArtists and On the Move provide general funding resources for artist mobility across Europe.