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Insight December 2018 | Youth Hong Kong

Good vibrations music for community

P

eople participating in music as part of their everyday lives is an expression of cultural democracy, writes Gigi Lam. Her research in the UK has convinced her that community music is at home in Hong Kong.

People who are engaged in music-making every day, whether they are teachers in classrooms, musicians sharing songs with seniors, buskers on the street or church choirs practicing: all of them are making community music. In the UK, where community music developed broadly from the 1960s, the emphasis is on inclusive participation as an expression of cultural democracy. In other words, everyone has the right and the ability to make, create, and enjoy their own music. To take one example, a UK charity called Good Vibrations helps prisoners, patients in secure hospitals and other vulnerable people in the community to develop crucial life and work skills. It uses intensive Gamelan workshops for this, with Indonesian bronze percussion facilitating a very accessible music-making experience. The emphasis is on listening and contributing ideas for musical compositions. The music-making provides people with a new group identity and self-identity. It helps them redefine

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themselves as musicians and change their self-perception thereby serving as a starting point for empowerment.

Respecting culture Reflecting on the situation in Hong Kong, the term community music is not rooted in our cultural history but musicians whose work focuses on inclusion can be found here. Community music is fluid and dynamic, a concept that embraces different practices for a variety of flexible purposes. Examples here include outreach workshops organized by groups and organizations that send musicians to work in communities, particularly in school settings, to provide support to formal music education. Let’s take Cantonese opera as an example. Because it contains elements of strong Chinese cultural and philosophical ideology, teaching it in schools is

Peter Moser, a one-man-band, entertaining children and parents at an interactive concert. Photo courtesy of Music Children Foundation

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