Workshops in Alkyone and Oikopolis Cultural Centers, Thessaloniki (GRC)
The project in Summary
To provide children of refugee families living in Thessaloniki opportunities for self-expression, mind-body coordination, and prosocial development. Music-centered workshops were organized in two centers; mothers would be present but the activities were directed to the children.
Children of refugee families from Nigeria, Iraq, and Syria, generally three to 12 years old, from four families. On average, seven to eight children would attend, and sessions lasted between 75 and 90 minutes. The workshops were led usually by two facilitators.
Eight activities would occur during each session. The opening would involve body percussion voice, and movement, with recorded music playing in the background. The purpose was to establish a fun and safe environment and to warm up bodies and voices.
This would be followed by the hello song, “I’d Like to Say Hello”, in which the participants would interact with each other and sing together. Then a naming song would be created, along with body percussion, as a way to create empathic connections and to learn the names of everyone.
Subsequently a body percussion activity would occur, with some different patterns introduced at each workshop. The children would follow and imitate the leader. and then the group would be divided into two smaller groups and repeat the rhythms, but starting at different times, to set a dialogue between the two groups.
A Greek song naming the body parts would be sung by the facilitators, and the children would be taught to rhythmically clap, jump, march, and say, “ha ha ha”.
In the forest activity, everybody walks around while drums are played. When the drums stop, the children became trees, which may sway a little in the wind. Then they were asked to do the opposite: be trees when the drums played, and walk around freely when there was silence. Subsequently the children would be divided into two groups: one group consisting of trees, the other of animals. They reacted to the sound of the drums, and then exchanged roles. This activity would create a feeling of achievement and the awareness of changes in music.
The penultimate activity was a song, “ 1, 2, 3, dance”, using bells and shakers to learn to play together at specified intervals.
The closing would be a song to say goodbye.
In addition to a high level of enthusiasm throughout the project, improvements in self-confidence, musical skills, problem-solving skills, general mood and connection to the group were noted among the children attending multiple sessions. The workshops also gave the mothers time to relax away from the obligations of home, and the pleasure of conversing with each other.