It is hard to believe that we are already well past half our current project year. Every week comes with its own surprises and challenges, and hardly any week goes by without another special story or event – sometimes happy and sometimes sad. Two students broke their arms, and now receive alternative music lessons. Another student lost her father to a fatal illness. One school principal called “just to say” how much the music has already changed the school and the children participating – moving them from a status of marginalized and unpopular to being something special because of their hard work in music.
Music teaching started December 2011, and lessons continue. We did have some changes in participants: there were some children who decided they do not want to continue with music, others were taken out by their families, and others changed their instruments. For those 8 children who left the project alltogether new children were taken on in February 2012, and we are still with 100 kids! The next evaluation takes place in April, if there are any children who dropped out those who stay will receive longer lessons.
Actually we now have 101 children - in a way. One of our AACT students, a fifth grader, used to arrive to his music lessons accompanied by two of his brothers, every week. He is one of the “star students” in the project: always prepared, on time, making great progress and committed. It turned out that his older brother had received some music training once via social services, but budgets were cut, and he had to stop. Unfortunately we had no possibility to take him on under the AACT project. After a music evaluation and a short discussion we decided to collect some money from the Beit Almusica staff and financed a three months starter course in flute for this older brother. He started in February, and results so far seem promising. This is but another story that shows how much music is needed and wanted, but all too often not affordable.
All AACT participants took part in 5 social empowerment workshops at schools between November and March in which the trainers from our partner organization Duroob worked with them on communication skills, identity, self confidence and tolerance. The trainers reported on motivated and participating kids that shared their experiences and feelings. Through the music and the social empowerment some issues emerged, and two cases of alleged domestic violence had to be reported to the authorities. The schools’ management and counselors fully cooperate with the project and assist us in resolving challenges with the families and students.
In March 2012 we had a real highlight: Beit Almusica hosted a delegation* from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for a week. During that week all of the AACT music teachers took part in Creative Learning training sessions with one of the Guildhall experts, Mr. Paul Griffiths.
Despite some skepticism in the beginning teachers were more that happy with the results of the (muuuuuch too short) training, as one teacher can be quoted:
“I had a conversation almost with every teacher who was in the workshop, and they were totally changed, they loved the experience, they loved the method, and even started thinking about getting together and working in the same way, some teachers told me that they have new method of teaching now due to this training, so I think it was just beautiful, adding a lot to our conscious, and planting a lot of different aspects in our subconscious as to how music should be made, is there only one way? Well if you`d been to the workshop you`d probably say no.”
Also in that week we took to all four AACT project schools - two in Shefa'amr, one in Tamra and one in Eibellin - for a one and a half hour music workshop with the project kids in their respective schools. Now that turned out to be quite an event in each school! In two schools we had public performances for all the other students of that school – around 1300 students and teachers all together. But also here it is best to hear from one of our Beit Almusica teachers who was there:
“The kids loved the workshops, in both schools that I`ve attended to the kids were having the time of their life, it was very clear that most of them had never met foreigners, had never participated in such workshops, and had never experienced music from such a close distance. I think the biggest proof is that when I arrived at Beit Almusica two days later, the students of the AACT project were still singing the melody that we learned and created the day before, and came to me asking to do the same workshop again, on the spot right there right now, they were so enthusiastic and happy it was a wonderful and touching sight! I think these workshops have created a new perception for these kids towards music, which will eventually open new possibilities in their near and far future.”
The exchange was closed with a joint concert called “Tune the Music” between Beit Almusica students and teachers and the musicians from Guildhall. It was a great experience for all of us, and the feedback from the schools – students, teachers and management – to the workshops was but one : Thanks to everyone who made this possible! It was great. WE WANT MORE!
We are now entering the last three months of teaching in the project for this year, and started preparations for social and musical evaluations during the summer. Group teaching for the advanced students will start in the beginning of May – and we are looking forward to the end of the year concert in late June.
And of course we also started working on the preparations to continue this wonderful project in the next academic year. For this we will need your assistance:
Regardless of whether you choose to continue supporting the AACT project with time, money, or good will, we are determined to continue this important work in 2011/2012 and beyond and to be great partners with you and responsible and effective stewards of your hope, time and resources.Thank you!
* The partnership between the Guildhall School of Music and Drama exists since 2009. The current exchange is part of an EU sponsored project for building cultural infrastructures.
For more information, please refer to our website: www.beit-almusica.org.
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Community Projects Manager