Promoting inclusion in Norwegian school bands

Previous PULSE participant Anne Oksfjellelv has a new and exciting job in the Norwegian Band Federation (NMF), working with inclusion of minorities in Norwegian school bands. An article was recently published in Norwegian about NMF’s efforts toward inclusion (http://musikkorps.no/inkludering-som-rod-trad/), and a translation is available below:

Inclusion is the main theme

Anne Oksfjellelv has been hired to work on the inclusion project for the Norwegian Band Federation (NMF). She is looking forward to encountering the enthusiasm and initiative in the school bands.

Anne-O-770x400

One of the goals of NMF’s East branch is that the demographics of the school bands’ member mass should reflect the demographics of the local schools. Anne will work closely with project leader Katja Furnes to plan and execute a preliminary project focusing on school bands and inclusion of members from a minority background. This preliminary project will lead to baseline information of the current situation, according to Katja Furnes. “We are so excited to welcome Anne to the team, she has a lot of valuable experience that will be extremely useful to us,” Katja says.

Anne is looking forward to starting her new job in August, and feels like this project is a good fit for her: “I applied for this position because inclusion has been the main theme both for my Master’s thesis that I submitted in May, and for my work in the PULSE exchange project. The topic of my Master’s thesis was the inclusion of children, youth and parents in school bands. I learned a lot while working on my thesis, but there is a lot of information still out there, and it feels “right down my alley” to be able to contribute to this project.”

When asked about why she thinks this project is important, Anne replies “first of all, 15% of the population of Norway, and 32% of the population of Oslo, have a minority background, so we’re not dealing with a small and insignificant group of people. The future and popularity of the school bands rely on us reaching out to this part of the population as well. Secondly, school bands have traditionally been seen as an inclusive activity, where it is easy to join and everyone gets to take part. However, there are signs showing that we are currently not successful in including everybody, and if we want to keep calling ourselves an inclusive movement, we have to do more.”

“A lot of school bands (but not all of them) are quite traditional. With society constantly changing, activities have to keep adapting as well. We will keep on preserving our traditions and recognising its importance for our culture in the future, but if we want to still be a relevant extracurricular activity we have to adapt to the society that children and youth are growing up in.”

Anne views the project as being both exciting and challenging, but she has no doubt of what needs to be done first: “I think one of our biggest challenges will be to prioritise, because there are so many options. Our knowledge of the situation in the school bands is limited, and there are big regional differences in both school bands and the population as a whole, so there is a lot of ground to cover. I think we are taking the right approach in mapping the current baseline, and then using that to determine the needs in the bands.”

“I’m really looking forward to meeting and talking to both children and adults about their thoughts on how to improve school bands to be a more inclusive activity. I’m sure that there are resourceful people and a lot of enthusiasm out there, and it will be fun to gather all this information.”

NMF is looking forward to this as well!

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