Sing for your Soul - music for social change

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Sin yo g ur fo r So ul Manual on musical approach in non-formal education


Table of Contents

1. Introduction 4 1.1 About YEU 1.2 Council of Europe – European Youth Foundation 1.3 Where did the project idea come from? 1.4 About the Process 1.5 Glossary/Dictionary

5 6 7 11 13

2. Non-formal Education 18 2.1 What is non formal education 2.2 Music as a non formal educational approach/tool 2.3 How to combine music and socially important topics mentioned before? 2.4 About process of local performances 2.5 Vocal coaching sessions and non-formal education 2.6 Using music to empower disadvantaged groups

19 19 22 22 24 34

3. Recommendations and Tips&Tricks 40 3.1 Recommendations for youth organizations and youth workers 41 3.2 Tips & Tricks when implementing non-formal education approaches on music 44 4. Testimonials 46 5. Authors 52




1.1 About YEU Youth for Exchange and Understanding (YEU) was founded in Strasbourg in 1986 by a group of 120 young people from 11 different countries. In 1989 it was recognized as a member association of the European Coordination Bureau (E.C.B.). YEU is run by young people for young people by means of a democratic structure and its members are mainly working on a voluntary base. The limit age to participate in the activities is 30 years but the majority of participants are under the age of 25. It is young people who decide about the activities of the organization, define the strategies and implement the action plans, run the organization and ultimately evaluate it. It is important to note that most young people in YEU are actively involved in other aspects of civil society, frequently establishing links between the Member Organizations and the local, regional and national institutions, other youth organizations and the community in general, extending the participation in the international organization to the local dimension. Youth for Exchange and Understanding works to promote peace, understanding and cooperation between the young people of the world, in a spirit of respect for human rights. Today it is a member of the European Youth Forum which is the independent platform for INGYOs and NYCs in Europe and Lifelong Learning Platform which is gathering organisations and institutions from all educational sectors. YEU has young people from over 30 countries from across Europe and Africa involved in its activities. More information at:


1.2 Council of Europe – European Youth Foundation The Council of Europe is an international organization whose stated aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, covers approximately 820 million people. The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and achieving the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress. Membership is open to all European states who seek harmony, cooperation, good governance and human rights, accepting the principle of the rule of law and are able and willing to guarantee democracy, fundamental human rights and freedoms. The main missions of Council of Europe are to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law; to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity; to find common solutions to the challenges facing European society: such as discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, bioethics and cloning, terrorism, trafficking in human beings, organized crime and corruption, cybercrime, violence against children and to consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform. Founded in 1972, the European Youth Foundation (EYF) plays a pivotal role in the Council of Europe’s work to encourage cooperation between young people in Europe and to facilitate their active participation in civil society and political decision-making. The European Youth Foundation gives young people a voice in political and democratic life and the tools they need to function effectively in today’s diverse societies. European Youth Foundation supported European co-operation and focused on multilateral youth activities (participation of youth of many nationalities). The main mission is supporting young people in getting closer to their objectives and their vision of a better future. 6

The European Youth Foundation (EYF) provides assistance and funding for youth activities which promote human rights, democracy, tolerance and solidarity. The Foundation has an annual budget of approximately 3.7 million Euros, which is mainly made up of obligatory contributions from each Council of Europe member state. Since 1972, more than 300 000 young people, aged between 15 and 30 and mostly from member states, have benefited directly from EYF supported activities. This program made a real contribution towards a closer cooperation between Eastern and Western Europe with in the free circulation of people and ideas in Europe. More information at: 1.3 Where did the project idea come from? The vision behind the programme “Sing for your soul - Music for Change” was to inspire young people in order to work on themselves and their self-empowerment while, at the same time, learning about others through music, singing and interacting with other communities with the purpose to make a change. The main idea of this project was to empower people to be strong and make them understand that each one of us can contribute to societal development in their own way. “Sing for Your Soul” which also served as the 38th YEU Convention was a project envisaged to cover two aspects of a young person’s development: 1. Personal: empowerment of young person’s self and multidimensional identity through vocal development and learning about oneself through singing 2. Societal: interaction with “others” (other cultures, ethnicities, origins, backgrounds) and their intersectionality through intercultural learning and understanding how to co-exist/live together.



The project gathered many participants coming from different countries willing to empower themselves in a creative and meaningful way by preparing themselves to be stronger advocates for peace or simply multipliers of active participation in their societies. YEU organised a 9 days event in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia during which we conducted local performances, created a video and a manual about music education for change. We were using voice and singing as a tool for intercultural learning and empowerment of young people and their activism. Specifically, the project gathered young people from different backgrounds, some coming from countries in (post)conflict situation, worked towards enhancing their knowledge and influencing attitudes towards Others. Through listening and playing each other’s songs -both during the activities and free times- they learned about each other’s cultures, identities and understanding of life in general. The idea for “Sing for Your Song-Music for Change” project came from work plans YEU has been implementing in previous years with the support of European Youth Foundation such as: Excuse me is this hate yours? (2015), Variety is the spice of life (2017) and Brave New YOU (2018). For instance; in 2015 we used theatre as a tool for overcoming hate and prejudices, following years we worked on hate speech and narratives while focusing on the importance of intercultural dialogue and gender diversity in order to act against harmful narratives. In each project, the focus were young people and their` empowerment towards becoming stronger, voicing up rights and needs and having young people being heard in their own communities, as well as the whole Europe. Young people in YEU events are very eager to express themselves in a creative way and learn about the others. In “Sing for Your Soul - Music for Change” we wanted to focus on empowerment of young people’s voices.


Voice is a deep part of who you are. Voice is an essential part of communication. Voice is ever-evolving. Being in touch with your own authentic voice is something many people struggle with. They say life is a learning process, yet sometimes we have difficulty expressing ourselves. Whether it be not speaking up in a work meeting, to objecting to an idea, or miscommunication, due to lack of clarity, we sometimes sell ourselves short. Music is a part of all of us: it allows us to connect across cultures, upbringings, and with our own authentic voice. Music is bringing us closer to others but also ourselves. Everybody has a unique voice but we are very often discouraged from using it with explanation that we are not talented enough, for singing for example. In the current state of affairs of Europe, societies are more and more divided and 25.9 million young people aged between 15 and 29 are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In such a world, the most miserable and tragic thing is not the lack of bread or roof, but the feeling of being no-one, the feeling of not being anyone, the lack of identification, the lack of public esteem. Music, however, can fight these feelings and accompany disadvantaged and youth in general to understand that they’re not alone: to play music in an orchestra or sing in a choir can bring harmony, thus becoming a social process of integration and inclusion that helps young people to develop a sense of community. This sense of belonging develops by being part of a group that recognizes itself as interconnected and that pursues the same objective. And this is what can change lives. During the implementation of this project which took place in the multicultural Balkans, the team collected the suggestions and advice of participants, and adjusted the activities accordingly. This manual includes all the approaches, methodologies, exercises, and activities made by facilitators, trainers and vocal coaches during the whole process. 10

1.4 About the Process Sing for your Soul – music for social change gathered people of diverse backgrounds (religion, origin, sexual orientation, employment status, people from rural areas or countries in (post)conflict situations) As the programme of the project built on two complementary methodologies which are music education and non-formal education; the overall educational approach of the project revolved around creating a safe space where participants together with the team explored different topics. Finding your voice - personal empowerment - ­self-esteem and understanding how to value yourself Practicing and valuing your voice because it is your inner-power. We used different methodologies of non-formal education and music education, specifically, vocal coaching. The vocal coaches ensured non-formal education approach by creating every activity for vocal sessions from scratch. A group of participants created an original song reflecting empowerment, understanding, dialogue and youth participation. Original lyrics combined with accompaniment of the guitar and ukulele were also matched with beatbox. Understanding others - Intercultural dialogue and understanding narratives We ensured non-formal education approach by creating a safe space for all through resource exercises after giving a mini lecture. For instance; in order to understand what intercultural dialogue and narratives, participants had a simulation called “Glaco”. We split them into two groups and they found themselves in a planet or a spaceship where the rules were totally different than the other. This simulation allowed participants to learn by experiencing the consequences of


their actions and repeating different strategies to see different outcomes. Imagine all the people - interacting with community - singing in public places This part of the programme was a mix of approaches of non-formal education and music education with the idea to interact with local community and perform in a public place. Here we ensured non-formal education approach by contributing to the development of solidarity, togetherness, empathy and a sense of belonging among young people of different backgrounds through vocal empowerment. Participants performed in three different spots for local community. At first, participants started with fundamentals and expressed themselves by using their bodies and environment as sources of music. They performed their own pieces in public places as a flash mob together in a group and got the courage to find their own voices. Later on, they found the strength to use their voices and sing together to empower each other and the audience and express their feelings and emotions. Through its physical activity and the related internal system triggering, singing allowed them to feel better about themselves and about the world around them. The chosen venue had an additional value in relation to the topic of the project. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a post conflict country with a specific cultural and political background. The participants had a chance to reflect on this background and to learn about Balkan history a little bit more. Furthermore, we stayed in the orphan`s house and that helped participants to think deeply on the topic of disadvantaged youth. Rather than staying in a comfortable hotel where no one is around, it is important for us as a youth organization -that mostly targets young people from disadvantaged groups- to stay in a place where we can interact with local. It is important for us to make the participants understand that conditions are different for each of us, but also for remembering that we all are equal. It’s no one’s choice to have less opportunities. 12

1.5 Glossary/Dictionary (in alphabetical order) Disadvantaged youth1: Disadvantaged young people are people with fewer opportunities compared to their peers because they might be facing one or more of these problems: Social obstacles, economic obstacles, disability, educational difficulties, cultural differences, health problems, geographical obstacles. In certain contexts, these situations or obstacles prevent young people from having effective access to formal and non-formal education, transnational mobility and participation, active citizenship, empowerment and inclusion in society at large. Diversity: The inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization Empowerment: The process of becoming stronger and more confident. Based on the idea that giving people skills, opportunity, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions. Freedom of speech: The right to express one’s ideas and opinions freely through speech, writing, and other forms of communication but without deliberately Retrieved from: (visited on 20/11/2019)



causing harm to others’ character and/or reputation by false or misleading statements. Gender: Refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed. When individuals or groups do not “fit” established gender norms they often face stigma, discriminatory practices or social exclusion. Gender awareness: Understanding that there are socially determined differences between women & men based on learned behaviour, which affect their ability to access and control resources. Hate speech2: Hate speech covers all forms of expressions that spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance. Intercultural Dialogue: Intercultural dialogue is an open and respectful exchange of views and opinions between different individuals, groups, and cultures.

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Narrative: Narratives are a logical coherent report and interpretation of connected events and characters. Narratives define what is “normal” and what is “legitimate”. • Counter narrative: Counter narratives are short and direct reaction to hateful messages. • Alternative narrative: Alternative narratives are actions which aim to undercut hate speech narratives by focusing on what we are “for” rather than what we are “against”. Social inclusion3: Social inclusion is a process by which efforts are made to ensure equal opportunities for all. The multi-dimensional process aimed at creating conditions which enable full and active participation of every member of the society in all aspects of life, including civic, social, economic, and political activities, as well as participation in decision making processes. Vocal4: Relating to or produced by the voice, either in singing or speaking.

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Vocal empowerment: The motivation and capability to express your emotions and/or thoughts through the use of your voice. Voice5: Voice is the sound made when people speak or sing, or the ability to make such a sound. Another meaning of voice is an expression of opinion, or the right to express an opinion. Youth engagement: Youth engagement is involving youth in planning and in making decisions that affect themselves and others by being responsible, challenging actions to create positive social change.

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Non - Formal Education


2.1 What is non-formal education Non-Formal Education (NFE) is an organised educational activity outside the established formal system whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity - that is intended to serve the learners and the learning objectives. The learning activities within NFE are created to attend the young people’s needs, aspirations and interests, on a voluntary basis and learner-centred. The methods used in NFE are very diverse and are mainly based on creating healthy environments of trust and sharing experiences. This type of education provides added value for young people, for the economy and society in terms of capacity building of organizations, systems and institutions. This education takes place in a diverse range of environments and address specific target groups and subjects, facilitating the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities. For YEU, the following are the main and crucial principles of NFE: • • • • • •

Specific (safe) environment Active participation in learning process Learning through experience Non-formal communication Non-formal evaluation [self-assessment] Importance of the group process

2.2 Music as a non-formal educational approach/tool Today music is widely used in different activities related to non-formal education approach. It has the power to create a certain atmosphere in the group, transmit emotions, and serve a number of purposes, e.g. cooperation, activation, contemplation, learning, relaxation, re-


flection and many others. Here are some things to consider when using music and non-formal education combined: 1. If music is used as a method for a particular activity related to non-formal education, it requires conscious use, awareness of its possible impacts on emotions, actions and learning process, proper choice for different moments, exercises, energizers, etc., and sensible approach to public use (e.g. copyright). 2. Ideally it is important to study theoretical framework of music and its influence on human body and emotions before developing an activity that includes using music as a tool of NFE. 3. It behooves to organize musical sets ordered by purpose for each part of a particular activity. These sets can be based on the principals of: • • • • • •

Teamwork; Group tasks; Reflection; Teambuilding; Creating special moments; Energizing, and others.

4. It is possible and extremely helpful to create atmosphere using music by selecting appropriate music pieces to advance learning experience. 5. Digital tools assist in using music as a tool of NFE: activity organizers and facilitators can create playlists, edit music pieces, search for music, etc. 6. Live music can be also a tool of education if used as an example, the soundtrack of an activity or an exercise, expected outcome. 7. Sometimes it is important to use music for movement in order to give relaxation space to the brain. In this way, warm-up exercises and voice and body stretching work great. 8. It is more challenging, yet interesting and educative in an activity for participants to work with limited sources, or within a certain framework, e.g. compose without the use of instruments, 20

without the use of traditional instruments or without using actual words. Humming, tapping, whistling, clapping, using one’s body, snapping, or stomping are also ways to make music a part of non-formal learning process. Combining music education and non-formal education can bring great benefits in covering different topics young people can be interested in or in need of. To give an example, “Sing for your soul – music for social change” embraced such topics as personal empowerment, intercultural dialogue, learning about others, narratives understanding. It is possible to add other issues too (perhaps, gender equality, environmental protection, social entrepreneurship, etc.) and deepen participants’ engagement in them by combining music and non-formal education. In this way old and familiar tools of non-formal education can sparkle with new colors accompanied by music. Here are some examples: 1. It is possible to alter existing energizers and ice-breaking games or even create new ones that use vocalization, stomping or body percussion. 2. Traditional team building process can be combined with setting up a choir and learning how to sing together that brings a feeling of belonging to the team while rehearsals or performances. 3. Music can assist young people in finding out more about others and themselves by discovering their voice, their capacities, building their self-esteem and understanding how to value yourself and others. Exploring more about yourself is indeed something necessary for young people, especially for those with fewer opportunities. Interweaving music in educational approach can allow them to have a greater capacity for managing stressful and triggering events, speak and sing more easily from their heart, become more peaceful, resilient and resourced, feel bigger, more free, courageous, confident and


grounded. In other words, it can empower them to take a more active and conscious part in their local communities and societies, and in their lives. 2.3 How to combine music and socially important topics mentioned before? The developers of the activity can suggest, for example, to give participants as a homework to bring a traditional song they would like to see changed in terms of the position of a character (women, men, minority representatives, etc.), finale or even the entire flow. Through music, participants would have to analyse intercultural and gender issues the song might touch upon, alter the lyrics or story and sing it in a way it is more equal, more diverse, more peaceful all together or individually. In this way music can actually be used for change and as an example of what changes can be implemented in local communities, different countries, Europe or the world in the future. The brightest highlights of the Convention were two local performances created by participants in open spaces of Banja-Luka and ÄŒrnomelj. Young people from different countries had a chance to visit those places and to interact with locals through music composed by themselves, songs they brought from their motherland or famous pieces known worldwide. As a result, music can develop solidarity, togetherness, empathy and a sense of belonging between young people of different backgrounds or in situations of disadvantage and local communities. 2.4 About the process of local performances First performance happened in two different locations in Banja Luka city on the fourth day of the event. The piece lasted around five minutes and was created as a staged flash mob. Participants divided themselves into three groups, and two of those groups appeared un22

expectedly in the locations singing and by one of the vocal coaches. Having an image of an expected result they had to come with their own musical pieces in groups using their body and environment as a source of music. By the end of the day participants performed their pieces, got feedback from vocal coaches and each other and discussed what could be improved or changed. Next step was to go through the pieces again minding that music must tell a story, and define the message the performance could send to the potential audience. In order to reinforce this step vocal coaches implemented Storytelling musical quest activity. Last step was to gather together in plenary and finalize the strategy: participants were offered to talk it over and hear everyone’s opinion instead of voting and accepting the opinion of the majority. In this way participants could comprehend the meaning of vocal empowerment (or any empowerment) the most. The discussion was a way to finalize the performance and make sure that every participant’s contribution was valued. The second local performance held in Crnomelj as a part of Crnofest on the sixth day of the event. Getting ready for the second performance was a bit different for several reasons: 1. That performance was supposed to be on stage during a local festival, not in the open public space; 2. The date of performance was changed by organizers of the festival, so the group did not have much time to prepare a piece. Preparation process was also different. As a first measure group organized evaluation meeting in order to define the results of the first performance, talk about both positive and negative moments and possible changes and improvements. The outcome of the discussion was a decision to make second performance longer, more meaningful and more empowering for audience and participants.


In this manner the group developed the following changes: 1. Performance was supposed to last 15-20 minutes; 2. “Battle” idea was kept from the first performance; 3. Solo pieces performed by some participants were added; 4. Final song for the choir was changed. Incredible, but in just one day the group managed to rearrange the whole piece, create a new song about the event from scratch and learn to sing an inspirational and truly empowering song “We are the World” by M. Jackson as a choir. The piece was performed in front of audience of the local festival and was met with great pleasure and satisfaction both by listeners and participants themselves. 2.5 Vocal coaching sessions and non-formal education Vocal coaching and vocal empowerment activities were held in 12 sessions and 2 local performances distributed throughout 5 days of work. Learning programme of vocal sessions included following educational methods: • • • • • • • • • •

Workshops Task games Simulation games and quests Showing live examples Brainstorming Warm-ups and vocal exercises Storytelling Discussion in groups and in plenary Songwriting Stage performance.

Each method was chosen with the aim to assist participants to build their personal learning process, and achieve the objectives of the sessions and the YEU Convention. 24

Workshops on singing got participants who were new to music discover the basics of vocal art, and reminded advanced musicians/ singers of necessary practices and essential elements. Storytelling, games and quests were chosen in order to make the learning process truly non-formal, gamified it and simplified such concepts as improvisation, sequence of musical piece, distribution of roles in the performance, etc. One of the best practices that made the session complete was showing live examples of what was expected from participants: if participants were to use body percussion, vocal coaches were showing an example of how it could be done. Another successful practice was to organize common discussions among participants that would make them share their ideas and thoughts. As the group had to prepare two different local performances, it was very important to use methods inherent to music education, as warm-up exercises or song writing. Here is the overview of the activities and tools used during vocal coaching sessions:


Singing Workshop Time needed for the activity

60-80 minutes (divided into 2 parts 30-40 min each)


Between 10 - 30 participants



Description: This activity aimed at presenting basic vocal techniques to participants, and learning how to be confident and enjoy singing with others. • • • • •

Workshop consisted of 4 parts essential for a singer: Posture and vocal mask; Breathing techniques; Resonating; Mouth and lips position.

First part of the workshop focused mostly on breathing exercises, posture and vocal mask and resonating. Workshop started with 10-minutes stretching and vocalizing that prepared participants for singing and suggested the right mood and atmosphere. Afterwards vocal coaches explained and showed what the posture of a singer should be along with the vocal mask, then participants tried to do the correct movements themselves. Workshop continued with 3 different breathing exercises that allowed participants to feel their breath and start breathing from the belly, not from the lungs. The last topic of the first part was resonating. Participants learned about the main points in their body that resonate and can make the sound better, they tried to find them by eliciting sounds and changing the position of their body.


During the second part of the workshop participants went deeper into resonating discovering more about their head and chest voices and how they work when one tries to extract a sound. In order to have a better understanding of resonating, vocal coaches allocated time to show correct mouth and lips positions while singing (for example, round shape of the mouth inside for vowels, roof of the mouth lifted or hard and soft attack lips positions). This part of the workshop also allowed participants to work more on their breath by repeating exercises from Part 1 and mastering new ones.


Getting to know each other’s musical background Time needed for the activity

30 minutes


Between 15 - 30 participants



Description: The aims of the activity were to break the ice among participants and facilitators, get to feel comfortable while making music together and learn about each other’s background in music. Participants were divided into groups of 6-7 people and given the task to discuss together their musical background for 5-10 minutes. After the discussion there was a game to be played. The rules of the game were following: • All the groups were given the same melody: “In the jungle, the mighty jungle”; • Groups had to arrange the melody in their own style; • Groups might use whatever they needed to arrange the melody (instruments, theatrical practices, dances, etc.); • The style of the arrangement needed to reflect background of the members of the group. After preparation groups presented their arrangement for all project participants in the plenary, then explained what influence from their background music had.


Storytelling musical quest Time needed for the activity

90 minutes


Between 15 - 25 participants



Description: Aims: to understand how music can be used as a storytelling instrument, learn how particular parts and sequences make a song once put together in the right order, discover structure of musical piece and distribution of musical capacities. Participants were divided into 2 groups. Each group had its own route with 6 pieces of the same story hidden on it. Once the game started, participants were given the 1st piece by vocal coaches, and that piece also contained a clue to the place where the next piece was hidden. The main idea was to collect parts of the story piece by piece and musicalize them, or make a soundtrack considering the tension level (inception, peak, upshot), the main characters and overall atmosphere of the story. Afterwards groups were to make a theatrical performance or musical, presenting the soundtracks they made interwoven into the original story. The game was followed by discussion in plenary covering following questions: • Which things and aspects did you consider while creating soundtracks? • Do you think your soundtracks related to the story and were relevant? • Imagine that all the words from the story were taken out, and what is left is only music you made. Can the story be told? • Can music be a storytelling instrument?


Activity to express oneself Time needed for the activity

45-50 minutes


Between 15 - 25 participants



Description: Aims: to learn why it is important to express one’s emotions and understand how suppressed emotions ruin our creativity. Participants received a candy each. In a circle they were told to put the candy on their right palm, and stretch their arms out parallel to the floor. They could not put it down until vocal coaches say it is possible. Then, while holding the candy, they picked a paper with a task, for example: • Write a short poem about what is happening around you right now; • Take a selfie with every person in the event; • Write an email to your mom; • Learn a song on the ukulele, etc. All the tasks needed to be completed by participants while holding a candy with the arm stretched out.


After the tasks are completed, participants could release their arms. The exercise was followed by discussion on several questions: • What difficulties did you encounter while completing the tasks? • Did you ask for help? • What does the candy represent for you? • What does it mean to express oneself? Vocal coaches explained that the candy represented any kind of feeling, and when people don’t let their feelings out, no matter how small the feeling is, they get in the way of life, get heavy, and do not allow us to be ourselves, be creative or be productive. There are many ways of letting emotions out, so participants were encouraged to share their personal experience on how they got their emotions out (e.g. music, meditation, drawing, journaling, walking, playing sports, etc.). Together with participants, vocal coaches concluded that art and music was always about someone expressing him/herself, and when art is not honest, people who are on the other end can feel it.


“Explain it!” game Time needed for the activity

30-40 minutes


Between 15 - 25 participants



Description: Aim of the activity was to go through bullet points of how to use music in non-formal education. Participants were divided into 10 pairs. Each pair got a task to teach another pair something, for example: • Make the other couple sing the melody of “Frede Jaques”; • Make the other couple sing a major scale; • Teach another couple a chorus of a song from your country. 5 pairs could use anything they want in order to teach, 5 pairs were limited in their language and could only use technical words and could not show live examples (e.g., sing or make rhythm). After the game started, pairs had 2 minutes to exchange knowledge each, then they had to find another couple and repeat the process. Game was followed a discussion on what the metaphor behind it was: when you are trying to teach something to others, you must use language and examples that are familiar to them. Discussion also touched upon such topics as attitude, cooperation and contact principles of any type of education, their modification in non-formal education and in non-formal education combined with music.


Relaxation, stretching and warm ups Time needed for the activity

10-15 minutes in the beginning of each vocal session


Between 10 - 30 participants



Description: In order to get participants relaxed and focused on music, vocal coaches decided to implement this activity every time before the beginning of a vocal session. Ordinarily it would include: • Getting rid of clamps in the body by doing simple stretching and yoga movements; • Warming up the voice with the help of prolonging vowels, stretching the lips and facial muscles; • Vocalizations up and down major and minor scales.


2.6 Using music to empower disadvantaged groups Music can be a level up tool as well. If we take a fast review over the last centuries in music history, it is easy to recognize that some of the most influential musical styles were created as a result of a disadvantaged group of people in need of a way of expressing themselves. For example, jazz music was created by African Americans in the times of slavery as a natural channel of expression for the repressed living conditions of their people at the time. The same is true about Gospel music but in the context of church. Another example of this is Rap music, hip Hop, Reggae, Punk and Grunge. These are all styles that were created by different minorities in an attempt to express themselves and be heard by society that excluded their position. Taking Grunge as example. Burned from Nirvana and lead by Kurt Cobain, Grunge was a way for the youth of the time to musically say “I don’t have the money to study music in a fancy school, but that will not stop me from playing”. Grunge is a style of music constructed oved basic chords, not following the classical rules of music but played with musical instruments by people who don’t know “how to use it properly”. The result of this practice is a new style of music. When a person or group of people are at a disadvantage, it means that there is some opportunity missing for them. This opportunity can be financial, meaning somebody who doesn’t have the same financial status or possibilities as the other members of the society in which they live in. It can also be intellectual, meaning this person has lower mental capabilities. It can be physical, meaning someone who is missing a physical sense (typically sight or hearing) or is missing a part of the body that doesn’t allow him/her to be fully integrated into society like everyone else. 34

Music has the power to put us all in the same ground, meaning to make us all “equal”. Why? Because someone who can’t see can still play a drum, can still sing. Someone who doesn’t have the same mental capabilities, can still be part of a choir, or play drums. Every one, no matter the disadvantaged position in which they are, can express themselves musically one way or another. The mission or goal of the organizers or guides when working with a disadvantaged group, is to make them understand, through empirical activities that when playing music, they have the same capabilities as anyone else. That the rules of society don’t apply when expressing yourself. Beethoven wrote the world-famous Symphony N.5 even if he was deaf, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder are both blind, Jennifer Lopez and Billy Joel grew up poor in the Bronx. These are the proof that music can put us all in a common ground. A rich person, a poor person, and blind, and Down Syndrome and person with no hands, can all jam together, and while they are playing, those differences don’t exist. That is precisely the goal of the organizer, to make each one in the sessions feel like their disadvantage doesn’t really exist. Music is also effective as an emotional tool for culture, self and intercultural learning. Non-formal education is a crucial method to empower young disadvantaged people. With a combination of NFE and music; how to empower young people with emphasis on those in situation of disadvantage by empowering their voices? 1. Good mentorship and guidance • Encourage the facilitators to guide, mentor and motivate the young people throughout the entire process. Work individually or in small groups to help the young people develop their skills and reach their maximum potential.


• Support ethnic minorities by the promotion of their music in communities • Share all the possible available possibilities and opportunities with young disadvantaged people, like Erasmus+, volunteering, becoming members of youth clubs, organizations, non-formal groups. Many young people are not informed about this kind of projects and opportunities, organizations and youth clubs, need to get more engaged with young people in all situations like schools, high schools. 2. Positive Reinforcement • Using positive language to reassure the young people for them to feel included and safe. With the help of fun games and activities allow an easier learning curve to avoid stress and make the learning process fun. • Giving the participants the opportunity to feel rewarded for their progress in the activities and raising their self-confidence. • Music creates a better mood and makes people happier, have it in mind and use it • Music therapies can be also some kind of activities to support different groups with different backgrounds. • Using motivational music with fast tempo, with different harmonies, can be supported to stimulate the positive emotions. Find a song that makes somebody stand up and dance and sing and be happy, these kinds of songs can help especially to individuals with depression and different anxieties. Some people don’t have the feeling of motivating themselves, these kinds of musical activities can give them the push to get more active. 3. Adapt the program to the participants • Assess the skills of the young people before the start of the planned activities. Work on finding out the interests and 36

needs, while adapting the program accordingly. Make use of diverse and varied learning methods. • Through body/voice people better express themselves, when they can’t use just a language, or they are too shy to speak, or not able to speak. Empower them to use music! • Different music activities need to be adjusted to the needs of the group, if you work with a group of people with special abilities (such as; mute, individuals with physical limitations, deaf etc.). These groups have different abilities even though they are limited, so you need to implement such activities in the way that support their abilities. • Individuals who have faced violence in their home, workplace it’s important to introduce music, as an empowering tool, by familiarizing them influential artist, through lyrics and methods. 4. Creating a safe space • Develop an inclusive environment in which the young people will feel comfortable, accepted and free to express themselves. • Emphasize that you don’t need talent in order to create and use music as a tool of empowerment, it’s important to give an opportunity for someone to discover and even if that leads to failure if there is safe space those individuals will be empowered to try it again. 5. Help participants find their role model / inspiration • Success stories of musical empowerment can be motivating for participants in disadvantage. Similar example: One of the participants from the YEU Convention started playing accordion since he was 6 years old, thanks to being inspired by his family and particularly his uncle which played the instrument. This provided constant motivation to participant which led to him playing the instrument for the past 11 years.


6. Help young people explore their identity • Lead the young people through discussions, self-reflective activities and familiarize/empathize with the identities of “other” people to better understand themselves. • When you work with disadvantaged groups, example like refugees/migrants, you might face a language barrier. That’s why using music as a communication tool might support them to feel accepted and included. • For individuals with addictions, music can be an alternative as more than just recreational activity. Music can give them an opportunity to discover something new, express themselves and relieve anxiety . • There are many young people in disadvantaged situations or even homeless with great musical talents, yet they don’t have the support to showcase them. It’s important to support and find ways to give them the opportunity to develop their talents. Inform them of scholarships or alternatives for people in their situation


While reading about our work, watch it at the same time. Here, you can see the video about using musical approach in non-formal education in practice

While in Banja Luka and Crnomelj, we have created our own song. Listen to it here


Recommendations and Tips&Tricks


3. Recommendations for youth organizations and youth workers when implementing musical sessions

3.1. Recommendations In order to organize a successful project with musical empowerment sessions, which will be fun and impactful at the same time, there is a list of recommendations. It will help you as a youth worker/youth organization to better understand all the specifics of this kind of projects, and to keep in mind a variety of important points that should be noted in the organizational process before the event, during the event and, also, after the implementation of your activity. Before the event To be sure that you create a safe, inclusive learning environment that fosters the educational process of your activity, and considers the musical component, here are some recommendations for youth workers/youth organizations to pay attention to during all the preparational operations before the event: 1. Choosing participants: to make the group as diverse as we can (gender, religion, ethnicity, etc.) it is better to pick participants with different musical background (half experienced, half not), and both experienced and not in learning mobility projects. 2. Promote the project in the specific places like festivals, music schools, etc. 3. Engage people with disabilities in this kind of projects by empowering them to participate.


4. Adjust the program to the needs of the group (people with special abilities). 5. Make the program balanced (“serious” sessions and fun, non-formal education and music, etc.) 6. Start the communication between participants before the project, for example, in Facebook group. Ask participants to share something in the group, for example, about themselves, what instruments they play, about their favorite song. 7. Collaborate with local music groups. 8. Present the project in an appealing way (to make it clear for the target audience). 9. Get “musical experts” in the organizing team. 10. Find potential venues for performances, establish connections with them. 11. Develop competencies of youth workers that work on such projects (organize a seminar or a training for them before the project). 12. Work with professionals like therapists, consultants to discover methodologies and approaches that include music in order to help individuals to work on their self-esteem. During the event Here is a list of recommendations you should consider while implementing the project. 1. Create a friendly, inclusive, safe and open environment through team buildings, musical activities, etc. 2. Provide an open space for young people to create and take into practice their own ideas without imposing any borders. 3. Give the initiative to participants, but provide them with the support of the experts. 4. When facing a language barrier, use music as a communication tool. 5. Use intercultural learning during the project. 42

6. Include the final product of the program (for example, performance and manual in our case) to motivate participants and make their work visible. 7. Support ethnic minorities by the promotion of their local music. 8. Use positive language for the participants to feel included and safe. 9. Give participants the opportunity to feel rewarded for their progress in the activities and raise their self-confidence. 10. Encourage facilitators to guide, mentor and motivate the young people through the entire process. Work individually or in small groups to help young people to develop their skills and reach their maximum potential. 11. Make participants aware that they do not need to be talented in order to create or use music as a tool of empowerment, give the opportunity to discover themselves, even if this leads to failure, empower the young people to try again. 12. Lead the young people through discussions, self-reflective activities to better understand themselves. 13. Make a final evaluation and give the participants an opportunity to realize what happened and to reflect on this experience. After the event It is important to understand that the learning process is not finished with the final day of the programme, but also youth workers are responsible for the high quality follow up that is happening when participants are back home as they are a really powerful tool to share and disseminate experience they gained after the event. 1. Motivate young people to make dissemination activities in their local communities when they are back home, for example, workshops on the topic of the project in their hometowns. 2. Also, share the product of the project in creative ways, for example, a manual, share the film, songs in social media, etc.


3. Ask participants for feedback, so you know how to improve such programmes in the future, for example, use the Google Forms or any other questionnaire tool. The best is to do that right after the project, so participants have “fresh” reflections and opinions. 3.2. Tips & Tricks / Do’s & Don’ts Apart from the recommendations, there are additional advice in the “Tips & Tricks for Trainers/Facilitators/Vocal Coaches” on musical approach in non-formal education. These tips also warn of potential difficulties, so it is important to look at them beforehand. Refer to the list of “Dos and Don’ts” at the end for a quick checklist of things to bear in mind.




Do ask about opinions, feelings, thoughts in order to make a better connection

Don’t give up if their opinions seem unkind or thoughtless. Show them another perspective

Do guide participants, they need to find the answers for themselves

Don’t use your position to close an argument focus on guiding instead

Do give equal opportunities for all young people to improve

Don’t focus on the talented person only

Do support the young people to discover their talent

Don’t emphasize the disadvantaged position of the participants

Do trust the participants to shape their own programme & make their own decisions

Don’t over-ask the participants to achieve something that they can’t

Do empower participants by using their own bodies as a musical instrument

Don’t exclude people based on their ability to play instruments

Do focus on quality

Don’t focus on quantity

Do engage participants to explore a wide range of music styles, genres and topics

Don’t reject the participants music preferences

Do encourage participants to voice their opinions and ideas and speak from their experiences

Don’t impose your own interest & methods over that of the participants

Do try to develop a culture of mutual respect, a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable about expressing their opinion

Don’t allow the group to exclude, ignore, prejudge, or disrespect anyone else: try to establish some basic principles from the outset




4. Testimonials

What impact has the “Sing for your soul” project made on its diverse group of participants? These testimonials clearly show and prove the importance of intercultural exchange in youth work, as well as advantages of using music empowerment in this kind of projects: “Participating in Sing for your Soul was one of the most enriching experiences I have ever taken part in. A new way of learning from each other and getting to know better from ourselves through innovative artistic methods. We were given the opportunity to explore what we, as young people who believe in change, are capable of, making this kind of programmes an inspiration for those who are willing to raise their inner voice and be a part of the new peacebuilder generation.” (Clare, Spain) “This was my first project after a 5 year break and on the very first night I noticed that I really missed this (going to such projects). I really liked how all the young people have connected from the beginning of the project. Despite coming from 20 different countries, having different backgrounds, fears and expectations of the project, there was no cultural barrier between us. We also had different musical abilities and tastes, which was really nice to explore. I personally consider myself an amateur musician and I was afraid of performing/singing in front of an audience. But the organizers have created a nice and comfortable safe space, where there was no judgement allowed. During the project I have learned that I shouldn’t be afraid of expressing myself in front of other people. This doesn’t go just for music, but can be applied to other fields as well, for example work. And for that reason, I was glad that I have joined the project. I’m looking forward to many others.” (Borut, Slovenia)


“I am happy that I had the chance to take part of this Convention. As a non-professional musician I really enjoyed the way of learning through music. The activities we had helped me develop my personal skills and enriched my experience. I am also glad that I met all these talented people who participated in the project.” (Vessimira, Bulgaria) “It is said that there is a world somewhere that every single person has his own identity, a world that there are all equal, a world where everyone speaks the same language, a world where everyone shares the same passion. Too good to be true, right? Actually, I have been in this world. This Convention gave me the chance to travel not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia, it also gave me the chance to travel in that unique world, the world of MUSIC. Thank you for everything!” (Panagiota, Greece) “The ‘Sing for your Soul’ convention brought me lots of inspiration and experience about using music as a tool to express inner voices as well as connecting people. The culturally diverse group that we worked with really showed that music is an international language that everyone- regardless of nationality, background, gender or (dis)ability can speak and participate in. To me personally it was fantastic to be part of such an energetic and inclusive group. Participating in this group gave me the confidence to free my own voice and express myself musically. This was such a great experience! Thank you for that!” (Priscilla, the Netherlands) “This is my first convention and for these ten days I felt really good in this special society. The organization is as serious and professional as the participants. I’m glad I had the opportunity to be at this convention. There were plenty of new things for me and interesting events. I liked the task of Alan and Arina the most. And even though I was the youngest member, I think I was not left behind the others. This is a nice experience for me and I hope there will be more conventions like this in the future. Thank you!” (Milislav, Bosnia and Herzegovina) “I feel proud and grateful to be part of this family that we created. For me, it was inspiring to meet all these creative people with whom we share the 48

same passion for music. For sure, I learned and I experienced so many things that I will carry back home and they are a part of who I am now.” (Silia, Greece) “Being non-professional in a music related project was actually an advantage. You get the chance to learn, to develop, to grow and have fun while doing it. That’s the recipe to self-improvement – learn from the best but implemented in a way that suits you best.” (Kristina, Bulgaria) “This project was the best experience I had in life so far. Even though I have been to seven projects before, this experience was special. People from over 20 countries connected through music and a common language, English. I learned so much and got so much new motivation in life and I recommend to every young individual to give this kind of activities a try.” (Jonathan, Luxemburg) “The last time I sang with the choir was in primary school. Thanks to this Youth Convention and the inspiring people who made this a reality I sang and performed in the city centre of a city and a music festival of another. We used our voice, literally and metaphorically, to empower, share and learn from each other.” (Skevi, Cyprus) “Words cannot describe this excitement and the way I feel after this wonderful Convention. I have been blessed to meet a lot of wonderful people who I have learned a lot from. These people taught me how to be loved and how to stand strong on my feet and be myself. This experience really changed my perception towards life.” (Dajana, Bosnia and Herzegovina) “The biggest benefit for me from this Convention lies in understanding music as a social inclusion tool. By working with people from different musical backgrounds I not only learned more about educational tools and methods but was also a reminder of why music became a huge part of my life and work. It’s an effective tool for learning, therapy, emotional expression, motivation and so on. I learned how to implement this new knowledge into my own professional musical work and in the future in my work with the youth.” (Ilze, Latvia)


“This convention represented for me a starting point, throughout a community able to accept, respect and maximize diversity. Let us spread the word now, each one in his/her own daily life, with enthusiasm, courage and pride!” (Andrea, Italy) “Very good combinations of learning with music, I realize how important music is in our life, and how you can have fun, meet some truly amazing people and learn new things with this project.” (Nikola, North Macedonia) “I think this project is a great experience because it helps us to get to know ourselves and our vocal possibilities as well as to overcome a fear of public performances. Also, this is proof that even though we come from 20 different countries, cultures and religions one thing that connects us is music.” (Isidora, Bosnia and Herzegovina) “This project means me a lot. Until I came here, I was just thinking that, what love can be for human beings? What is respect and what is the meaning of life? When I came here, I saw myself in everyone else. I saw people living with music. I saw people who were looking for each other. Every one of them was really helpful, kind and LOVELY. I felt love here. I felt that I could be something for this group. I can be a part of something big. I was not that confident, but now I believe that I can do everything I want. We can do everything we want. It’s so easy actually. If you really want, if you try so hard, there is nothing you cannot do. And right now, I have so many friends, brothers and sisters. I had a family there. And I still feel that connection with everyone. I have many supporters. I have believers. I know that, WE WILL MEET AGAIN. Thanks for this amazing project, amazing opportunity for me. Keep living with music. Keep dreaming. And don’t forget to make dreams come true.” (Özgür, Turkey)


All these phrases are collected at the end of the project and showcase how connected all participants became, how music empowerment influenced their skills, knowledge and attitudes, how such a diverse intercultural exchange is impactful for young people in exploring their capacities, expanding their worldview, developing tolerance and understanding among them.




5. Authors

Team behind the publication: • • • • • • • • •

Selin Gurlemez, Turkey Murat Mislimi, North Macedonia Yulia Kabanets, Ukraine Anastasia Petrova, Ukraine Arina Ovchinnikova, Russian Federation Alan Wurman, Chile/USA Vladimir Mitrovic Agata Papotto Tamara Gojkovic



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