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May 7, 2018

"We Were All Born Creative!"

Composition Classes for Children in Fukushima

Since 2013, the Friends of El Sistema Japan has been organizing composition classes with Dai Fujikura, a composer with a strong belief that we are all creative by nature. Mr. Fujikura invites guest musicians to participate in his classes, each of whom plays a different instrument – everything from the soprano saxophone to the shamisen, a three-stringed traditional Japanese musical instrument.  Children first listen to instrument demonstrations, and then compose pieces of music of their own. This process takes approximately 30 minutes, which to many people may seem rushed.

While Mr. Fujikura’s instructions are kept to a minimum, two points are stressed: the first is to feel free and able to create whatever comes to mind, and the second is to remain open and not judgmental about your own and others’ work. Rid of the fear of making mistakes, children are able to freely express themselves and create compositions in record time.  According to Mr. Fujikura, children often take a liking to “weird sounds”.  In fact, the pieces composed by participants are often so unique that even experienced guest musicians find the compositions challenging to play.  It is inspiring to see how children’s eyes shine when they witness their ideas and compositions being translated into actual music.

Thanks to the generous supporters like you, we can provide free music education for children like these composition classes. We assure you that, despite various hardships, the children are building life skills by the means of creating music with others.

We appreciate your continued support from the bottom of our hearts – thank you!!!

Feb 12, 2018

It's Time to Pass It Forward!

Runa is a proud alumna of the Soma Children’s Orchestra. After having experienced the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake in Fukushima, she joined the Soma Children’s Orchestra and found the joy of playing music. She left the small town of Soma last year to pursue her college education in Tokyo but has kept her passion for music – she knows first-hand how music can help heal emotional wounds, make friends and create beautiful harmony with them. 

Runa never forgets how the Soma Children’s Orchestra served “like a school” for her. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, many families in Tamano District, where she grew up, chose to evacuate to other areas. As a result, the number of school children dropped sharply. Having been one of only a handful of students who remained in Tamano District, Runa recalls how excited she was when she found out about the Soma Children’s Orchestra. “I immediately signed up but, learning other children were all younger, I felt insecure. It did not take long to break the ice, however. Everybody was very friendly”, Runa says. The orchestra turned out to be a place where she could not only learn to play the violin but also meet and make new friends from other districts in Soma.

Today Runa and 2 other girls from Soma, Haruka and Momoka, made their debut at a charity concert held in Tokyo. They played as part of the Fellow Orchestra, an amateur orchestra that supports good causes through music. The core members of the Fellow Orchestra, in fact, have been traveling to Fukushima to support the Soma Children’s Orchestra on a pro bono basis. Seizing an opportunity of playing together with big brothers and sisters who used to teach them, the freshman girls could not conceal their excitement. “It’s like a dream.” At the same time, they have become aware of their new role – yes, it is time for them to become big sisters. “I want to further develop my skills and pass it onto the younger generation because that’s the gift I received from the Soma Children’s Orchestra”, Runa describes enthusiastically.

Ticket sales of the charity concert supported by Runa, Haruka and Momoka will partly go to the Soma Children’s Orchestra. It has been nearly 7 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, but we still recognize the need for continuous support for affected children in Soma. The waning donor interest is a major concern for us. Your contribution has been and will continue to be used in a meaningful way. We appreciate your support very much and sincerely hope you will stay with our children – thank you!

Haruka, Runa and Momoka
Haruka, Runa and Momoka
Nov 16, 2017

Singing in harmony with hearing-impaired children

The Soma Children’s Chorus joined the Tokyo White Hands Chorus, an innovative choir of children with hearing impairments, on the occasion of El Sistema Gala Concert held last month. As a new addition to El Sistema Japan family, the Tokyo White Hands Chorus was recently formed with an aim to facilitate children with disabilities to express themselves through art.

It was the day before the concert when the two groups of children met for the first time. The Soma Children’s Chorus has experience of singing with other choirs and orchestras but has never sung with children who cannot hear yet express the world of music through corporal movements – particularly, by the use of the white gloved hands as symbol. So, the children of the Soma Children’s Chorus were excited but at the same time a little anxious when they got together with the Tokyo White Hands Chorus and started practicing “Momiji (Autumn Color of Leaves)”, a very popular nursery rhythm depicting the beauty of the Japanese mountains aflame with autumn color.

“It’s a totally inspiring experience. I’ve never imagined expressing this song in such a way”, said Aya, a mezzosoprano, observing how the children of the Tokyo White Hands Chorus eloquently communicate the vivid autumn colors without using voice but their hands and other body parts. “Depending on how we engage corporal movements, the colors of leaves can change”, describes Hikaru, a hearing-impaired high school student from the Tokyo White Hands Chorus.

The concert represented an opportunity for the two groups of children to interact and learn from each other. They “sang together” 5 songs – the Soma Children’s Chorus with its beautifully resonant voice and the Tokyo White Hands Chorus with its magically flowing body movements. Two pieces put together, the children completed the very unique art of music. 

“Through this experience, I learned we can communicate with each other just by means of gestures”, said Nako, another mezzosoprano, who never had the chance of mingling with hearing-impaired children prior to the concert. It was also meaningful for the members of the Tokyo White Hands Chorus. “Regardless of hearing abilities, we could become friends through music. Now I want to become friends with everybody around the world who may be living with many different types of disabilities”, Misaki, a 3rd grader of the Tokyo White Hands Chorus, shared her passion.

Thanks to the generous supporters like you, we can organize events like this El Sistema Gala Concert and bring together children of different backgrounds. We strongly believe in the value of accepting differences and promoting an inclusive society through music. We assure you that your contribution has been and will continue to be used in a meaningful way. We appreciate your support from the bottom of our hearts – thank you!

 
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