Norges Musikkorps Forbund together with the PULSE programme has again held a third successful, exciting, vibrant and energetic VinterPULSE seminar in Oslo and the first ever VinterPULSE in Bergen.
VinterPULSE started in 2015 in Oslo with only 25 participants from three different schools and school bands. We received funding from LNU Inkludering og Mangfold for the project. The idea was to help the bands with their recruitment and the seminar was held at Møllergata skole where PULSE worked in on a weekly basis, the average age on the first VinterPULSE was 8 years.
In 2016, we had around 35 participants from 10 bands, including drill that was a new target group for the project. This year we received funding from LNU Kultur and launched our peer educator program where we had 6 praktikanter from RØST working in partnership with the PULSE team. The average age for 2016 was 9 years.
In 2017, we had more than 80 applicants from more than 10 bands and we invited members of Dragen fritidsklubb to attend. The cooperation with Dragen is a recruitment pilot we are testing out in partnership with the Inclusion agent program and we were happy to see that several boys from Dragen attended VinterPULSE- the whole week. The average age for 2017 was 10 years.
We are proud that the seminar is getting so popular, and that we are expanding our participant groups and geographical outreach. Our slogan for VinterPULSE has always been that “If we can’t go to Africa, we can bring Africa here”, and from the very beginning VinterPULSE has been a bit different than other school band courses offered by NMF.
There are some important aspects that makes VinterPULSE a little different from the other courses that NMF offer:
- It is a low threshold seminar, where economy and other resources in one’s family should not prevent any child from joining. We therefore arrange transport to and from the local schools, serve food at the seminar and have a very low/symbolic registration fee.
- The musical content of the course is diverse, and something different to what the kids get in their school bands throughout the rest of the year.
- We see this as important because Norwegians today have roots from all over the world, and using different musical expressions is important to facilitate for the best possible learning experience for everyone.
Bergen had its very first VinterPULSE programme this year. The target groups for participants are a combination of band members and children that are not involved in banding or any other after school activity. We therefore got the opportunity to work with children from Redd Barnas project a good neighbour and from Sund reception centre. It has been important for us to find a working model that includes both band members and participants that are not playing an instrument yet. We have also tested a drop-in model for participation in the project- Also here the threshold for joining has been very low and it has been open for new participants to join every day or miss a day. The main goal is that every single participant should feel welcomed in the group, experience being noticed by the leaders, have fun, and learn something new. In Bergen we have had 55 children visiting, the project in total and about 35 of these has been showing up regularly.
The PULSE participants incorporate some of the South African Field Band Foundation teaching methods at VinterPULSE. We introduced elements such as playing music by ear, dancing while playing, and keeping sessions short but effective when teaching. Rapid changes of activities; dance, singing, icebreakers, team builders rhythmical session, playing sessions e.g., are reckoned as an important tool to keep everyone’s interest. We have also made it a point to introduce at least one musical piece or activity that is new for everybody every day. This is done to include new participants and to quickly give them a sense of mastering.
PULSE-team partnered with “praktikanter” (trainees/peer educators) from Hordaland Ungdomskorps in Bergen and Regionkorps Øst in Oslo. The purpose for this partnership is to strengthen the PULSE team by bringing the knowledge and musical skills the trainees have when it comes to instruments that are common in Norwegian skolekorps. The trainees are crucial in translating between English, Norwegian during the sessions so all the kids could understand what is required, and what is said to them by the PULSE team. They are also important role models and represent the link between the PULSE leaders and the VinterPULSe participants.
One important aspect of the week is to give participants a chance to make new friends, so we encourage the children to use the breaks between sessions to play and chat with each other. The team provides a variety of activities throughout the entire seminar. Most of these activities are meant to keep the kids focused and energised, but most importantly to make them feel included to the programme at all times. The Friendship wall reinforces this aspect.
The friendship wall is a poster where the kids get to write notes on what they like about playing in a band and being at VinterPULSE. It has proven to be an effective tool where the kids get to express themselves, and it shows us if we are successful in our aim to improve quality of life for our participants. It has been great to see that the kids experience getting new friends, mastering the music and being inspired.
This seminar has been an interesting experience so far and the learning curve has been steep for everyone involved. It is our experience that the project has been successful according to the main goals and that the methodology is worth developing further.
Written by : Thulani Dupa and Masibulele Langa
Photos : Praktikanter and PULSE Team
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