A school singing project without singing
MoSaIC stands for Music for Sound Integration in the Creative sector: 9 artists from 9 different countries have formed a vocal-instrumental ensemble since 2018 in a mosaic of influences on each other and on our organisation Koor&Stem. It is a European project that aspires participation and mutual understanding for each other's musical traditions. During the 2020-2021 working year, Koor&Stem will also translate this project to schools.
Ik weet dat het er niet zo uitziet maar hé
Ik heb gevlucht, gehuild, gezucht
Het is niet dat ik niet gelukkig ben
Maar er is niemand die ik hier ken
Ik mis mijn ma, mijn pa, mijn broer, mijn zus
Ik mis mijn school, mijn flat, mijn bus
Fragment from a pupils rap in Dutch (Freinetschool ’t Vier, Kortrijk)
In full second coronawave, pupils from the second grade of secondary education from a Freinet school in Kortrijk work on language, rhythm and beat.
At home in the world - workshops in secondary education
We would have liked to carry out this process in March: five weeks in a row workshops 'at home in the world' within the MoSaIC project. After all, the school wanted to work with the themes of 'interculturality and citizenship'. The MoSaIC project was a perfect match for this and would use the expertise of artists with a migration background in the lessons at school. We wanted to activate pupils by vocal improvisation, singing and moving. None of that, of course. But we would do it in October, condensed into one week, before the autumn break. Four days in a row, short and sweet, and - yes - have the youngsters singing with mouth masks. However, the expanding COVID-19-wave forced us to put aside the core business of our organization - singing. How do you make such a (singing) project relevant for a school without singing ...?
Philosophy, rap and playing instrumental music
Fortunately, singing is not only about spreading aerosols. Singing also implies communication, rhythm, listening, meaning, story, cooperation. And fortunately our artists from the MosaIC project are at home in many fields. One of those artists is Vida. Vida is from Iran and is a recognized refugee. She shares Persian influences within the MoSaIC ensemble, sings and plays the dutar (a two-string instrument). And she is a sociologist. With pertinent questions, class discussion and thoughtful silences, Vida introduces students to stereotypes. Who are we? Where do we feel at home? And why? The answers and new questions that arise, arm the students with a varicolored image of another. This is excellent input for the rap session with Jan Asselberghs alias Petit Jean!
During the rap session, students receive a short instruction about rap and then make a rap themselves on a basic beat. They expose themselves and their rap without a mask behind a plexiscreen. The results evoke appreciative applause from classmates. The pupils lyrics show commitment.
The third workshop is for Moufadhel Adhoum, also MoSaIC artist. Moufadhel is from Tunisia and has now lived in Belgium for more than half his life. Moufadhel works as a musician and composer in various interesting constellations. Be sure to listen to the music of his group Hijaz: the group members unite Arabic melodic twists with jazz.
Moufadhel himself plays the ud. That crazy twelve-string instrument with kink and without frets requires a brief explanation and provokes a mini concert in the ventilated gym. For the active part of the workshop, Moufadhel relies - now that it is not possible to sing - on an arsenal of instruments from the school: orff instruments and small percussion, congas and woodblocks, something for everyone in the group of 20 students, used after thoroughly disinfecting hands before use. Moufadhel teaches the students a few rhythms and gradually creates a basis of rhythmic and melodic accompaniment, above which the ud plays solo in oriental-inspired improvisation. Without a conductor, pupils just listen to the beat.
Value of artists in a school
It is strange to visit a school singing project without being able to sing. It is quiet too. However, behind the mouth mask you see a glimpse of admiration when the ud is played or the rapper shows of a live rap. Even silent emotion at the gripping personal testimony of a refugee. Valuable artists in the classroom, they are worth gold.