The OnStage Project in Brno: two years has shown us so much!
Edited on24 February 2021
In the last two years, in Brno, Czechia, URBACT OnStage has brought together new methods and horizons, created a community choir open to all, and involved more children and new local communities in the incredible journey of enjoying music – take a look at its last update!
In just two years of the project Onstage, Brno has been learning new ways to use music education as a tool for social cohesion. And it has been an amazing journey, challenging and rewarding at the same time, with surprising twists that even the best laid plans of mice and men couldn’t have envisioned.
From the beginning the project seemed set on the right path. We handled the quintessential challenge of any project – funding. The city of Brno granted sufficient funds to introduce educational programmes we had budgeted in our plan. Hence, cooperation with two primary schools located in deprived areas of the city could begin.
In September 2019 in the primary school ZŠ nám. 28. října the piloting programme set off – group violin and cello lessons were introduced as a part of the voluntary afternoon school curriculum (3x2h/week) and in addition, to promote music activities based on the philosophy of the project, the the morning curricular programme was extended with an extra music lesson for 5th to 9th graders. In January 2020 we opened the group guitar lessons in the primary school ZŠ.Merhautova (3x2h/week).
One of the first lessons in ZŠ nám. 28. října in the autumn 2019.
In order to introduce music activities to a broader community, we followed the idea to connect local organisations and institutions which coexist, but don’t at present directly cooperate. As a result, in cooperation with the local non-profit organisation IQ Roma Servis and a partner primary school ZŠ Merhautova, a community choir ONSTAGE was established at the end of November 2019. Free of tuition, the choir aims to be open for anybody with or without any musical experience. In our target area, in a newly opened kindergarten MŠ Sýpka, we set up a weekly group music programme and purchased musical instruments so that even the youngest children could also get familiar with making music together.
First face-to-face meeting of the community choir ONSTAGE after months of only on-line existence after the lockdown in spring 2020 (20.5.2020).
The second challenge that we encountered in our efforts was to find suitable teachers for our music programmes. Traditional Czech music education follows a one-to-one model with a focus on efficiency and perfection. The group-based ‘El Sistema’ method, which is the main methodological inspiration for Music for Social Change in L'Hospitalet's EMMCA and in our programmes, is almost unknown here. Hence, we had to find teachers willing to jump into deep unknown waters and start teaching with a superficial knowledge of group music methodology and with only the inkling of an idea why and how playing an instrument in a group could be beneficial.
But, of course, the biggest challenge for the project has been the pandemic of COVID-19. During the lockdown some of our programmes switched to an on-line existence, other activities had to be cancelled for some time completely. For a project with a goal to connect people through music it has been a very harsh and testing time.
And yet, it seems that we have passed this test as well. Despite restrictions, all our programmes have well established foundations with our students and committed teachers who believe in the idea of the project and are willing to continue, even in these difficult times, full of restrictions and uncertainties. In only a short period of time we have proven that this project is meaningful for Brno and can make positive changes. And we hope that we will find new ways to continue along the exciting path we have started out on.
The guitar programme in ZŠ Merhautova can continue in a limited way during the lockdown. Students in their lesson the very same day this article was written (15.2.2021).
Text by Andrea Barickmanová, Brno | 15.2.2021. For further information, please contact her at email@example.com.
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