M4GHD: related projects and organizations

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Music (art) for (positive social) change projects




YONA-Sistema is program here in Edmonton that is based off a model developed by José Abreu over 40 years ago in Venezuela. Abreu's goal was to engage youth in musical education as a way to create social change. YONA-Sistema is an after school program in Edmonton for underserved children and there are currently 80 students involved. Each day after school, the students are allowed to stay for up to three hours of qualified music instruction, free-play, academic support and more, all at no cost to the families. They are also provided with a nutritional snack.

I think this is an extraordinary program and it seems to be pretty successful. Most of the program costs are covered by donations, grants and partner contributions, which isn't entirely stable, but as mentioned on the website, the initial cost per student is high but the ongoing expenses of the program are relatively low. They also had a $1 million donation so that will definitely help sustain the program! I'm sure this program will change the lives of many students, but it would be ideal if every student had the opportunity to join (or at least all the students in the schools the program takes place at).

-Jenna B.


Imvula Music Program

This music program was the first Playing For Change Foundation music school, and it located in South Africa. The Litha Primary School serves over 500 children ages 6 to 14. This program brings music education into the lives of more kids and different groups of children, and provides more larger, and efficient space for classes. Students are learning guitar, vocals, drums, saxophone, keyboard, dance, and marimba. Youth and old people are welcomed to these workshops and performances.

This program is using music through social events, like drugs, crime, and disease prevalent. It brings hope to the community and children. This program is sustainable, because it is transforming from one place to another, and it is based on its community and the government. The school is run by the community but supported by the government of South Africa, and so there's no school fees for students. Kids from various ages are encouraged to join the program.


Turning Tables


Turning Tables is a non-profit organisation that works to create spaces where marginalised communities in developing countries can come to express grievance, hopes and dreams through music and film. The program addresses the needs of the individual and the community, in refugee camps, deprived communities and in the form of festivals in cities, by creating safe spaces to explore their artistry and emotions. Turning Tables uses music as a way to connect with the most vulnerable and oppressed youth who would not normally engage with aid workers, and to engage them in social change through empowerment. The projects initially involve an international crew in the construction of studios and training of local music and film instructors, and the creation of six-month development plans.Return trips from the international team help with the implementation of the development plan and international partnerships are established to convert the funding to 70% self generated within two years. There are currently programs in South-East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

I think Turning Tables should be considered a leading initiative in the field of music for positive social change. It has successfully created an easily reproducible model for sustainable music programs which have proven their success in several different continents. Their focus on sustainability, founded on their commitment to the UNSDGs and the emphasis on education, means that they will have a good chance of creating meaningful social change in marginalised communities. Moreover, their focus on accessibility through online tutorial videos, music examples, documentaries and social media accounts makes this project firmly connected in the global community whilst maintaining its importance in local communities.

- Susie

Playing for Change

Stand By Me



I first encountered this video as a facebook post from a friend. I was moved by the musicality and global inclusiveness of the project. The "Stand by Me" video was recorded in 2008. The second time I saw it, just last summer, I thought about how amazing it would be to participate and sent an email of inquiry. I did not hear back, perhaps because I did not join the organization at that time.

Every September, musicians all over the world come together (virtually) to play in their communities on stages, in the streets, schools and cafes, with the goal of bringing positive social change and music into the lives of young people. This is known as "Playing for Change Day". It occurred on September 24 this year.

The foundation, Playing for Change Foundation, was created in 2011 to unite the global community through the power of music. The main office is in Venice, California. Its website states that the initiative is entirely funded by contributions and donations from supporters. There are also videos of previous years' performances and T-shirts for sale. The funds are then used to support music instruction for young people in Thailand, Bangladesh, Brazil, 3 locations in Nepal, Mali, Rwanda and Ghana. They state that each week, more than 1000 children attend free classes in dance, instruments, language and musical theory. It appears that the foundation supports local individuals. There are participant evaluations posted. An example is from the program in Bangkok, Thailand and states that the foundation supported two local musicians who were inspired by the "Stand by Me" video who went on to initiate a music program for disadvantaged children.

I think that this is an outstanding program and demonstrates the power of music. I would love to participate. Enjoy the video!


The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura

The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura was started by Favio Chavez, as a way to make music education possible in a community where an instrument such as a violin, can cost more than a house. Living beside the largest garbage dump in Paraguay, the people of the community have become resourceful in using trash as raw materials in building. Thanks to the orchestra's story getting a lot of attention, a documentary film, "Landfill Harmonic”, was created about them. This spinoff project again broadened the story's reach. This type of model is great in a place where labour is inexpensive and diverse raw materials are freely available. In a developed community, finding people who have time to build instruments which will ultimately have very little value would be difficult. In contrast, in a poor community, having musical instruments of little monetary value is a benefit, as there is no incentive to steal them or to sell them for profit. Dedicated individuals (in this case Chavez and his collaborators) are required to start such a project, and bring the skills of music teaching and instrument making. Hopefully keeping the music school going for several years will build enough capacity in the community to maintain it in the long term.

TEDx talk by Favio Chavez (16 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsfOvJEdurk

href="http://www.landfillharmonicmovie.com/" target="_blank">http://www.landfillharmonicmovie.com/



SSHRC-funded project:

International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation

Musicians Without Borders


Based in the Netherlands, this organization has many of the same goals as M4GHD. It operates trainings and has projects in Palestine, Uganda, Mitrovica (Kosovo), Rwanda and Tanzania. It was formed by Laura Hassler in 1999.


"One family against a world of climate change”

In the video which is "One family against a world of climate change”, it talks about climate is changing for three generations. The children will get more hurt by the changing climate. For example, in the end of video, it said, "Our children will bear the brunt of climate change. Also, every one has responsible to keep our environment.




ChildrenInternational: "Music for Development"


Children International seeks to break the cycle of poverty primarily in Central and South American countries, and it does this by targeting children and their development as the core of their work. CI views a child's development in a holistic light, not just seeking to provide vital services such as health care and nutritional support, but also recognizing the power of musical education in a child's life, stating that "tested models have actually proven that music can dramatically change the life trajectory of impoverished children." Their music education program, "Music for Development," reaches children in Colombia and the Dominican Republic in highly impoverished communities to teach them music and to enable them to become "music teachers" in their own right. The project's methodology is based on José Abreu's "El Sistema" method developed in the 1970s in Venezuela (just like Jenna's YONA Sistema) and seeks to empower children by giving them leadership opportunity and experience at a very young age, teaching them early on that they can be effective agents in their communities.

I think CI's Music for Development is great example of an M4GHD project centered around sustainability, since the music "students" quickly become "teachers" and can pass on the knowledge they've received. It also provides children with a form of self-expression and self-actualization that is often difficult to come by in impoverished communities: music helps them to have creative control of their situation, and provides them with a sense of responsibility and belonging. One aspect of this project I found interesting to think about was their mention of music "distracting" children from the violent and risky situations in which they live, proving that music can lift one out of their own situation in a sense.


Project Citizenship


style="text-align:left;text-indent:0px;float:none;">In 2012, Skills Society of Edmonton, http://www.skillssociety.ca/ ,whose mandate is: "Skills Society is a not-for-profit organization whose vision is of a community where all individuals are valued citizens deserving respect, dignity and rights" partnered with University of Alberta Community Service Learning department to empower individuals with disabilities to gain control through story telling. 55 stories were captured. In this particular vignette, the power of drum circle and inclusion are demonstrated.

When I view this video, it brings back such awesome memories. The dialogue by circle participants (including me), seems perhaps rather individual participant centric, but I think that we were trying to highlight what Daniel brought to the group. He was non-verbal, but much is expressed through his eyes and facial expression. The drum circle was free and open to all. Participants who didn't have drums were welcome to share extras brought by participants or the facilitator Carol. Daniel came usually by DATS and was accompanied by a caregiver, who also became an important part of the group. This particular drum circle is no longer gathering, but I am happy to report that I continue to see Daniel regularly at Oliver Drum Circle.


The Atlantic music project:


The Atlantic music project is a non-profit organization that gives intensive music lessons and experience to underserved children in Atlanta with no tuition price. 200 children are received each year and the only requirement is to attend all classes. Not only do children learn North American styles of hierarchal music with traditional symphonic instruments and theory learning but also African drumming as well as dancing. Their mission statement is "To inspire social change by providing Atlanta's underserved youth the opportunity to learn and perform in Orchestras and choirs".

I think that this project has mosts of it's facets together when approaching a goal of sustainability and concrete positive change through music. The musical education provided is not solely based on American music, broadening the diversity of the children's exposure to world music. Aside from this, the children are being taught by educated musicians, making the possibility for children to go on to becoming professional musicians a far more likely option should they choose to pursue such a path. However, those who don't are still developing confidence and are not turned away by the project for fear of not being talented enough to pass an audition because it is not required. Aside from this, the project runs on donations and makes it's tax returns available for public view in the name of transparency. A limitation that did cross my mind when assessing this project as with any non-profit organization, was the risk of running solely on donations and having to pay experienced musicians to teach the children. Such a system may not bet the most sustainable in the long run, depending on the times of donations that are being made. Over-all a pretty admirable project though given the amount of information I have access to.