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Tabla, Beat-box, Klezmer & Flamenco: an eclectic bunch of new volunteers

Tabla, Beat-box, Klezmer & Flamenco: an eclectic bunch of new volunteers

14th December 2017

By Sally Jaquet

In November, a group of us newly recruited volunteer workshop assistants got to meet each other at the Kobi Nazrul Centre in East London for an induction day. Some of us had already been along to one or two of MID’s music workshops in detention centres, but we're all relatively new to workshop assisting so it was a lovely opportunity to share experiences, get to know MID better, and meet our fellow volunteers!

The day, which was facilitated by Douglas Noble with artists Anna de Mutiis and Camilo Tirado leading some parts of the day, started off with introductions: sharing our musical backgrounds and why we wanted to be a part of the MID team. The group included tabla players, beat-boxers, cellists, music therapists, academics, klezmer enthusiasts, flamenco musicians, and steel pan players: all with a passionate belief that music has an incredible social impact!

Getting the beat going

Getting the beat going

We moved on to share reflections on our visits to detention centres; where we had met detainees and MID artists during the workshops. Because each centre is different, the artists have different styles, and no one group of participants is the same, we were able to talk about a wide range of experiences. The overall sentiment was that the workshops were wonderful events, with skilled practitioners and enthused participants who consistently gave feedback about how positively it impacted on their time in detention. There were some challenges, however - the nature of the centres, changing rules, and detainees coming in or moving on, meant that the MID artists had to constantly be creative and flexible. From time to time sessions didn’t run as smoothly as hoped for, as plans had to be changed last minute to accommodate the unpredictable nature of the setting - or because there was so much enthusiasm in the room that it got a bit rowdy at times (some workshops had 60+ people in the room!).

The lovely Camilo and Anna then led a practical music session, including wonderful role play by Anna to show us the sort of scenarios we might encounter within the centres - and how best to assist as a volunteer. Everyone who had an instrument brought it out (the rest of us sang, clapped, or beat-boxed) and we improvised flamenco rhythms around a circle. Whilst making wonderfully eclectic sounds with djembes, a string section, tabla, and voice, Anna would create a scenario, such as: “a detainee is sat at the back of the room not getting involved in the workshop, how might you make them feel included?”, which we would then discuss how to navigate. 

A little taste of the day...

At the end of the day, we discussed the volunteer role in more depth, had informal discussions about detention centres including our personal feelings about them and how these may inform with our approaches and experiences when assisting at the delivery of the workshops. Everyone had varied backgrounds so were interested in each other's work and opinions. It was really great to be in a room full of so many impassioned and talented musicians. I look forward to continuing these conversations as I continue to work with MID.