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We use music to help people develop into positive role models in their community

(Credentials)

 

When everything has been said

or if nothing can be said

because it’s too difficult to speak

then there is still always music

 

Music is the freedom to express yourself

Music is the freedom to be who you are

Everyone has that right

but not everyone has access to it

That has to change. Preferably today.

 

This is our sound: Sounds of Change

 

We move around the hotbed of the Middle East, in conflict areas, refugee camps, devastated cities. Or in other places in the world, nearby or far away, where poverty and tornness reigns; everywhere where communal feelings are eroded by great violence and other social issues. 

Housing and education are difficult. 
Many people are traumatised. 
Hatred is the order of the day.
Radicalisation is lying in wait.

What we have with us: a bag of toys, simple instruments, drumsticks, anything you can find to make sound.
We also have an indestructible faith in the power of music. And in the already present potential of people. 

We strive to strengthen the community from within by connecting to the present power and abilities they have. We use music to search for a way to get acces to the potential inside of them. So they can raise their voice as individuals and as a community. 

Local music stimulates self-awareness and group forming. By making your own song, you can develop your identity and rediscover the feeling that you belong somewhere. And the realisation that you form a group gives a sense of security. These cultural resources will help them to be more resilient. 

Music is the message that hope exists. You can’t live without it.
Music connects people and enables them to share their hope.

 

Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt

We are active in these four countries in the Middle East and in the Netherlands. In Lebanon, for instance, there are 12 Palestinian camps with about 40,000 inhabitants. There’s a lot of violence in the camps, but they don’t have much else, and certainly no good education. The education which is provided is limited, and offers little creativity. Schools work in shifts which prevent children of different origins to meet and connect.

Sometimes people are not allowed to leave the camp, making it a kind of prison. The Palestinian young people that we works with in Lebanon, were born there and will die there. They have no clear future. In addition, since 2011, a million Syrian refugees have flooded into Lebanon. This gives it the highest number of refugees per inhabitant in the world. That is an enormous pressure on the local population integrating with the refugees.

All kinds of things are going on in Jordan too. There is growing extremism. This means that women have little or no freedom and there are all kinds of stigmas and value judgements that imprison people. In Palestine, young people grow up with violence and hatred every day. Life in a society like that offers very little space for vulnerability, freedom, autonomy, one’s own identity and bonding.

The power of music

We use creative music processes that make people more creative. It also awakes the understanding that there are always opportunities to create something, to build a future. Even if you grow up in a refugee camp. Or in a devastated town. In addition, making music is an important emotional escape valve. When you live in difficult circumstances and experienced traumatic events, words are not enough to express yourself. Then people need another way to deal with emotions and to find safety to talk. Music is a powerful tool to express yourself in a safe way. For instance, there was a Syrian girl in a refugee camp in Jordan who hadn’t spoken for months. She also avoided eye contact. After five days making music, she stood at the front singing. That’s how powerful music can be.

Positive role models

We use music to help people develop into positive role models in the community. The world needs strong community builders in order to encourage social change. The aim is to improve the quality-of-life where that is urgently necessary, directed by these strong role models.

Long-term impact

We stand for careful cooperation with organisations which, just like themselves, also want the impact to remain visible in the long-term.

Our focus

The organisation was founded in 2017 with the aim to find and train the role models for the future – the new community leaders.

We have acquired unique experience in the Middle East. We want to capitalise on that experience and expertise in the coming years, both there and in the Netherlands, and in conflict zones on other continents. Everywhere, you can find communities which have an urgent need to strengthen the feelings of togetherness and harmony, which need to be injected again with creativity, self-expression and reflection.

Our team has worked for the past four years in various countries and gained experience in how great the power of music can be in dislocated surroundings. We have worked in conflict areas with divided communities, with victims of violence, people suffering trauma and with school systems that do not cater for the needs of children.

During their work in these different places, we discovered that creative music processes can have a transformative effect. Slowly but surely, people start daring to express themselves and really start listening to each other. They discover new ideas and dare to present them. Music helps to connect, make people feel safe and creates a lot of fun. In the creative music process, we use improvisational exercises from where people step by step start to compose their own song. As a result, people take responsibility for what they make together. This gives a feeling of autonomy. You see the glitter in their eyes, the enormous motivation to create their own music. They dare to investigate and cross their own boundaries and feel pride with every step they make. 

Sustainable approach 

We try to evoke changes from within. A crucial factor is building up sustainable relationships with partner organisations on the ground.
Our partner organisations think in the long-term too and, by cooperating with them, based on the same values, our team can provide a long-term contribution. With music, we add something useful to existing programs.

We train adults from other organisations so they can strengthen the communities on the spot. It’s people from the community who are best equipped to do the work; they speak the language and know the culture. One experience of this is Hashem, who gives trainings in Lebanon himself. Hashem Kabreet is a Syrian artist who started as a Sounds of Change trainee in Lebanon and is now a fully grown trainer. It is the deliberate intention of Sounds of Change to make itself redundant. 

 

How we work 

The techniques used by Sounds of Change aim at

  • developing emotional awareness of yourself and others
  • safety and fun as important conditions for improvising and composing together
  • delaying judgement
  • active listening
  • non-verbal and compassionate communication as important conditions for working together

 

Creative music processes

These aims are achieved using creative music processes appealing to the imagination of each individual and the group. Composing music in a safe space, in which people can share their experiences, power and hope, will bring a deeper layer to the musical result. The music reflects the people individually and the unity of the group. This leads to a significant musical result.

Our trainers consciously head for safety, flexibility, reacting to the moment and focusing on solutions. They live the approach and that makes them a role model for the participants. This is a core value. Another important core value is relating the training to the context. In designing the programme, our trainers are conscious of the surroundings and the needs of the team and the organisation. They react flexibly to what happens in the moment and what is necessary.

The power of this approach can be found in the need for bonding. And that is universal. Wherever you are, everyone wants to belong and be seen, everyone wants to express themselves and be heard. That is essential to mental health. Especially in conflict areas, where this is not a matter of course. 

Using musical processes, in which people encounter each other and cooperate, you can create a nest for creative and innovative ideas that can catalyse change. In doing so, you acquire a better understanding of who you are, who the other is and how you relate to the world around you.