After meeting many Burundian refugees in Sydney, I spent a month from 19 November to 14 December in East Africa visiting camps of Burundian refugees in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya learning of their plight and trying to help with the situation. There was a huge conflict resulting in hundreds of thousands of people escaping the violence. In 1994 there was large conflict in Rwanda between the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s resulting in a huge genocide. Once again it is the same battlefield. The Genocide Museum in Kigali depicts that catastrophe as well as others that have happened in the past, like...Read More
On 15 August 2010 an unusual but exciting music festival began in Sydney. A dream coming true for Sydney-man Gary Holzman was the formation of the Jewish Music Festival called Shir Madness. Gary is a man where music runs through his veins and he wanted to share this with everyone. The Shir Madness music festival became an annual event for the Jewish community with just one condition: Any musician could apply to perform as long as there was a Jewish connection – either one of the band or troupe must be Jewish, or the act must consist of one...Read More
With all the misunderstandings in our society, the writer of this article instigated a recent meeting between two Green Councillors from the Randwick City Council and the chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff. At a coffee lounge in Bondi Junction the four of us included Mayor Lindsay Shurey and Philipa Veitch. We discussed antisemitism and other prejudices that surround us. I initiated our meeting by pointing out that because the Australian government makes poor decisions on their handling of refugees, it does not mean that all Australians are bad. And the same can be...Read More
A Bosnian Muslim family was recognised on 29 May 2018 for saving the life of a Jewish girl, Nadica, now living in Australia, from the Nazi regime during World War 2. Before and during World War 2 the Nazi regime carried out atrocities that the whole world knows about. Whilst there are many stories of bravery on the battlefront, there are also counts of heroism that to this day are only now being told. One such account is of a Bosnian Muslim family by the name of Prohić who risked their lives in order to save Nadica, a young...Read More
The Music for Refugees organisation has created and tested a new and unique method to teach people to play the piano and keyboard. And the true test was at the Villawood Detention Centre last Friday!
This new and innovative Virtual Piano Guide is also for people who have never played an instrument before. Looking like a keyboard with notes exactly the same size as a piano, it outlines various notes and chords on the scales of C, F and G. And because it is colour-coded, it allows the participant to easily play the three chords as directed in order to conform to a song – the initial song is The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and because it uses the most basic of chord structures, it also allows the user to play any song using those three chords. Most songs would fall into that category giving the new pianist the ability to play songs like Bring it on home to me, You are my sunshine, Bye bye love, Save the last dance for me, Stand by me, Walk right back, and many more.
At his visit to Villawood Detention Centre, Philip Feinstein spent time in three different compounds using the Virtual Piano Guide. “I was impressed by the overall success during the lessons. The result was about 80% of the detainees playing an actual keyboard after having received instruction via the guide” he said. He explained how on each visit he will have another song for them to learn, using the same three chords. “And on another future session I will also introduce the Am chord (A-minor) to them.”
AMUST readers need just cut out the Virtual Piano Guide and follow the colour coding of the notes. The C-chord has the notes in red (C + E + G), the F-chord has the notes in green (F + A + C) and the G-chord has the notes in blue (G + B + D). The song listed has the order of the chords, so all that is needed is for the player to practice on the guide and then put their new knowledge into place by playing the song on an actual piano or keyboard. It will need them to sing along, but that can be in private and good fun.
Once again the Music for Refugees program is showing how playing music can reduce stress.
Philip Feinstein is a Sydney based writer,
musician and activist working for MUSIC
FOR REFUGEES www.musicforrefugees.org