MusicIntervention Blog: An Adventure of Its Own

MusicIntervention blog is an educational, you-can-change-the-world, musical adventure for curious minds, grassroots practitioners, wacky theoreticians, and of course, music lovers of all kinds. As much as MusicIntervention serves these target publics, it is also an adventure for its writer: me! Without a doubt, I am more knowledgeable about the topic of music intervention than just a mere three months ago. Whether reading a phenomenal article about the power of music to strengthen a community or writing about music’s healing effects on peacebuilders and those traumatized by war, the words and phrases on the page become the building blocks of this new study.

Reaching a decision on what to discuss in these posts is not always straightforward. There are times that I stumble upon a perfect topic for exploration either by word-of-mouth, social media, or reading my daily collection of online newspapers. Other times, I begin to wonder if writing about a nightmarish masterclass experience from my past might be more informing than anything else appearing on my radar (yes, all musicians have sustained traumatic masterclass experiences and I’m not afraid to admit it anymore!). One of the nifty techniques that I use to avoid utilizing embarrassing experiences of mine as “educational material” is to send out Google Alerts every day for the following five search inquires: music and peace, youth empowerment, conflict transformation, music education, and music intervention. The results vary day to day, week to week, month to month. There are days where the level of good content is slim and other days where I cannot find the time to read all of the new articles and resources between my full-time job, practicing, spending time with my family, and having a bit of a life! Notice, I didn’t mention sleep.

Last Tuesday was one of those “slim pickin’s” days. None of the search engine articles were intriguing. Sighing to myself I wondered if I had hit the bottom of the Internet. What if there were no more music intervention youth empowerment and conflict transformation organizations out there that I hadn’t already found? As my bleary eyes skimmed Ha’aretz.com, an article sparked my attention. This article reported on an apparent youth empowerment music intervention school called the Silwan Ta’azef Music School. Ta’azef Music School, housed in the Madaa Creative Center (Madaa in Arabic translates to horizon in English), resides in Silwan, a controversial neighborhood right outside of Jerusalem’s Old City’s walls. What shocked me the most was never having heard of such a school after recently living over a half a year in Jerusalem. If I had known, there is no question that my viola and I would have visited!

The majority of Silwan’s population is Palestinian, with several pocket-fulls of Israeli settlers that live in highly fortified, secured compounds that were until recently Palestinian homes. These homes were either confiscated based upon the Absentee Property Law or sold to the Israeli settlers by Palestinian owners. All of the buildings are basically built on top of each other on the hilly, over-populated land. According to archeologists, it is believed that Silwan is also the location of the ancient city of King David. This is one of the reasons why Jewish settlement in the area is of high priority. To add to the mess, this land is technically a part of East Jerusalem annexed by Israel during the 1967 War. The annexation is deemed illegal by international law and the majority of the international community.

If you speak with government officials in the Jerusalem Municipality responsible for East Jerusalem Affairs, they will tell you that Palestinians (whom they call Arabs most of the time) predominately build without permits because they rather avoid paying taxes. If you speak with members of the Silwan neighborhood, they will tell you that they have tried to apply for permits to build houses and are always denied, hence they build without permits. As the adults bicker about these issues, the children of Silwan grow up in a very hostile place without children-friendly facilities, such as playgrounds, colorful murals, and even at the bare minimum, sidewalks. What a relief to know that at least Madaa is there!

After cutting and pasting in a quick Google Search, Madaa’s website popped up. Unbelievable! As I hurriedly passed through all of its pages and links, I was soon led to other music intervention organizations and then other music intervention organizations and then others. Let’s just say I hit the jackpot for a “slim-picken’s” Tuesday. If only every day could be that productive and full of good news.

And now I would like to introduce the six new music intervention organizations that have been added to the MusicIntervention Blog under Youth Empowerment or Conflict Transformation and two new blogs that can be found on the BlogRoll. Enjoy your perusing!

BlogRoll

Music Bus Goes Africa

Music Bus Goes Palestine (now called Music Bus Goes Middle East)

Youth Empowerment

Empty Vessel Music: Education, Appreciation, Intervention

Manhattan New Music Project

Manhattan New Music Project(MNMP) empowers youth in underserved communities, using the performing arts to develop essential life skills and achieve academic success. We build partnerships among artists, students, teachers and parents that focus on the creation and performance of new works.

Silwan Ta’azef Music School

Since October 2007, weekly music lessons are given by professional musicians to the children of Silwan. The music school offers an introductory course to music for children ages 4-12, and group instrumental lessons to children and teenagers.

The main concept behind the music school is to offer an outlet for creativity and emotions through the playing of music, and to support the personal and musical development of every child. All classes in the music school are held in groups, and much emphasis is given to social interaction and personal social development.

VH1 Save the Music

The VH1 Save The Music Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring instrumental music education in America’s public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education. Since its inception in 1997, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation has provided $48 million in new musical instruments to 1,800 public schools in more than 100 cities around the country, impacting the lives of over 1.8 million children.

Conflict Transformation

Face to Face Interreligious Service-Pontanima Choir

Established in 1996, Pontanima is an interreligious choir based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is widely acclaimed as an innovative peacemaking project, a shining ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and a major contributor to the cultural life of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The choir celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2006 in affirmation of the vision shared by the founding group of singers, who allowed themselves to hope in the future and dreamed that spiritual music could heal and reconcile the people of Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Musicians Without Borders

Musicians without Borders is an international network organization that uses the power of music to connect communities, bridge divides and heal the wounds of war and conflict.

Musicians without Borders initiates projects, develops methodologies and organizes concerts and international conferences on healing and reconciliation through music. Since its founding in 1999, Musicians without Borders has organized successful projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo and the Middle East.

Musicians Without Borders UK (affiliate organization of Musicians Without Borders)

Musicians without Borders UK use music to reduce the stressful effects of war and to connect people across cultural, political and religious borders for peace and positive change. MwB UK is affiliated to the MwB International organisation founded in 1999 by Laura Hassler and a group of musicians in the Netherlands in response to the Kosovan war. Since then the network has grown with projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Uganda, Rwanda, the Middle East, the Netherlands, the USA and the UK.

Mitrovica Rock School (a project of Musicians Without Borders)

The Mitrovica Rock School restores rock music culture to the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Local musicians teach the city’s future rock stars. Throughout the region, the Mitrovica Rock School is known as an example of a new way to bridge cultural differences.

_______________________________________________________

I attempt to cite all of the sources used in my writings and research as correctly as possible, so please adopt the same policy toward the works presented here and as well my own writings by citing this blog’s findings correctly. This blog is meant for sharing, not plagiarism. Thank you for your respect.

Meet the Challenge: Amplify a Community with Music

Meet the challenge. Amplify a community with music. Join GOOD March 15-29 by voting for the musical arts proposal with the potential to affect the most social change in a community.

GOOD is a multifaceted social change think-tank that simply “gives a damn.” Don’t worry, those are their words, not mine. According to their mission statement, “GOOD is a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward. Since 2006 we’ve been making a magazine, videos, and events for people who give a damn.” (GOOD) Their bedrock supports four platforms: News, The Magazine, Finder, Maker.

Recently, the GOOD Maker platform opened its gates to proposals of how the musical arts can improve and amazingly, do good, in a community. All submissions must be received by March 15 noontime. With 3 hours left and counting, 95 ideas are already posted awaiting your vote come the afternoon of March 15. Of course like any great idea, funding is necessary to implement the inspiration into action. GOOD is offering a $2,500 award to the proposal that accrues the most votes.

What is special about this modest initiative? Why the focus on music and the community? And where do the two intertwine to foster social change?

To start, GOOD in its marketing and social media savvy understands the “how-to” in presenting innovative concepts. By giving equal opportunity to every community member in proposing their dream concept, GOOD is placing the transformation of a neighborhood in the hands of its members. This furthers grassroots activism at the local level, and yet increases awareness at the national level. In fact, this is the type of enthralling, entrepreneurial platform needed in the arts. Though GOOD’s offering is modest, every penny counts in the music non-profit sector where the first budget cuts usually occur.

Now, why the focus on music and community? The linking factor comes down to communication. There are two definitions of the word communication. In its most familiar form, communication is understood as the sending and receiving of ideas over a distance in space. You send a Facebook message to your friend with a link to The GOOD Fund Challenge: Make Music. Your friend receives the Facebook message and responds in a Facebook message with the link to the proposal he or she will vote for. This is a “transmission view” of communication.

Another definition of communication is a much older version than the latter. In this definition, communication is defined not by the action of sending and receiving information in space, but rather the sharing of a communal act. This “ritual view” of communication is where music and community meet. Individuals communicate through the medium of music in the self-expression of their multiple narratives. As the audience responds to the extension of this message, the sender and receiver are sharing values and moments of meaningful “sound” together.

The sheer potency of this connection is intoxicating and at times life altering. Bolstering a community through the medium of music to improve or support a particular project has the potential of ultimately fostering social change. The remaining question is the rate of its effectiveness, which depends on two factors: the inclusiveness of the musical act and sustainability of the proposal.

Inclusiveness of the musical act refers to centering on overarching ideas that people can relate to and yield a parcel of ownership. This concept is based in protest music subculture. The purpose of protest music and collective singing is to build and empower social movements while framing the discourse to include as many constituents in the movement as possible. This tactic has surfaced as a component during the Civil Rights Movement in America, the New Song Movement in Latin America, and most recently during the Arab Spring Movement.

“This Little Light of Mine” Down on Wall Street, Zuccotti Park 10-29-2011

The Best of the Syrian Revolution, Homs, Syria 11-19-2011

“Collective singing reinforces feelings of belonging to a larger community, something larger than themselves and empowers activists to believe that they can ultimately affect change.” (Brooks 65)  The GOOD: Make Music proposals are not necessarily meant to protest a certain issue. The purpose is to mobilize a community to support a particular neighborhood or grassroots project.

Inspiration fostered by social activism does not only come from the initial act, but from its continued cultivation of relationships within a community. Without a sustainable project, initial community support may dwindle in face of stagnant amounts of change and lack of interactive, transformative elements. After all, empowerment does not occur over night even in the most promising of interventions.

Voting for the best suited GOOD: Make Music proposal will not be an easy choice. In arriving to a decision, keep in mind how well the project you choose can foster social change in a community, which constituents will be empowered, and if the overall proposal is sustainable. By voting for a particular proposal, you amplify a cause. Perhaps you will contribute to a child’s excitement in strumming the first chord on his or her own instrument, to an open-mic/jam session in a city park or theatre space, to music interventions in healthcare or inter-religious relations, etc. Meet the challenge. Amplify a community with music.

FYI: Luckily for us, we do not need to bother with nationally televised debates to make this vote!

I attempt to cite all of the sources used in my writings and research as correctly as possible, so please adopt the same policy toward the works presented here and as well my own writings by citing this blog’s findings correctly. This blog is meant for sharing, not plagiarism. Thank you for your respect.

—————————————————————————————————-

1. Brooks, Jeneve R. “”Peace, Salaam, Shalom”: Functions of Collective Singing in U.S. Peace Activism.” Music & Arts in Action 2.2 (2010): 56-71. Music & Arts in Action. University of Exeter, 2010. Web. 7 Oct. 2011. <http://musicandartsinaction.net/index.php/maia/article/view/antiwarsongs&gt;.

2. Carey, James. Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. New York: Routledge, 1989.

3. “What Is Good.” GOOD. GOOD Worldwide, LLC. Web. 12 Mar. 2012. <http://www.good.is/company&gt;.