Brno Hosts Visiting Teachers To Promote Innovative Music Education Methods For Social Change

On 16 and 17 June, Brno hosted more than 20 teachers from cities involved in the Czech-Slovak initiative “OnStage – Music Schools For Social Change”. The aim of the meeting was to introduce participants to this method of teaching and to inspire them to implement similar programs in their cities. Photo credit: Jiri Slama

Brno, June 22 (BD) – The OnStage project is a pilot music-education programme that uses group music lessons to strengthen social support for children and youth at risk of social exclusion. Last week, Brno hosted more than 20 teachers as part of the project. 

In a packed two-day program, teachers from the participating cities visited two primary schools where the Brno music programs have been implemented. On Thursday, 16 June, they visited the Náměstí 28. října Primary School, where they took part in three activities. In the morning they watched a music education lesson using the principles of the innovative el Sistema teaching method. In the afternoon, they attended a group violin and cello lesson program, followed by a two-hour workshop with lecturers from the Superar school in Vienna, which has been using the el Sistema method for many years. In this workshop, they learnt practical information on how to work effectively with children in a group and were able to try out some rhythmic and musical exercises for themselves. Friday, 17 June included a visit to Merhautova Elementary School, where the participants had the opportunity to take part in a group guitar lesson.

The use of music teaching to strengthen social inclusion is a concept that is underdeveloped in the Czech Republic. The practice was introduced to Brno as part of the international OnStage project thanks to the Urbact III Operational Programme (which ran from January 2018 to June 2021). From visits to the participating European cities, Brno took away valuable experience, which it has used to introduce its own music programmes.

Teachers from the participating cities took part in various activities, such as lectures, music education lessons and group music lessons. Photo credit: Jiri Slama

“The OnStage project is a very interesting alternative and parallel to traditional basic music education,” said Jaroslav Suchý, Brno City Councillor for Education. “Because the music programmes take place directly in primary school buildings and are free of charge (including the loan of a musical instrument), music education becomes more accessible to children who would otherwise not even consider it. In addition, innovative group learning promotes cooperation and tolerance within the group, helping to create positive social bonds, so children learn on multiple levels.”

As the Brno programmes have proven to be so successful, and are in great demand, the City of Brno has been given the opportunity to lead the ongoing Czech-Slovak OnStage initiative (July 2021 – December 2022) and pass on its experience to participating Czech and Slovak cities, including Broumov, Neratovice, Plzeň, Banská Bystrica, Lučenec, Nitra and Trenčín.

“Despite the difficult beginnings due to the pandemic situation, it is clear that the music programmes of the OnStage project have found their place in Brno,” added Marek Fišer, Brno City Councillor for Culture. “It is also great that this innovative method of teaching music will not only continue here in Brno, but that we can help spread it to other Czech and Slovak cities. I believe that the meeting will be inspiring for the cities involved, and I hope that in the future it will be possible not only to pass on the experience, but also to share it, whether in the form of joint concerts or other encounters.” 

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