I have been doing this project with refugees now for over two and a half months, at Cafe Connections in Schöneberg, Berlin. So far it has been very rewarding: There are usually between two to five people there (an average of three or four) Some are starting guitar from scratch, some are experienced, so the real trick is to get them all playing musically together. There are now two classes: the first is for beginners, the second for more advanced. But each class can stay and observe the other, to maximise the overall learning.
The majority attending are Syrian. I keep the class “open”. Anyone is more or less free to observe or get involved. We are doing a variation on the James Bond soundtrack, some Spanish music, and some Arabic music. We are now doing Greensleeves also.
Some of the cons I have come across is that the guitars are not very good quality, but I think the two which have caused a few problems can be fixed quite easily.
The pros are all the help I get from everyone to help make this possible: Larry and Natascha for providing the space and helping with organisation, and Magda and Jeremy from the New Music school. I look forward to personally thanking whoever has sorted out all the instruments. Also, an anonymous Irish person donated a violin! Who is this unsung hero!?
The most interesting aspect is listening to the musicians own language and culture. Arabic is a fascinating language, and the Arabic music I have heard them sing and play is very inspiring.
Also, getting paid helps: it means society actually values the work I do. I would love to do more of this work: I come out to Schöneberg for just an hour and a half. It would be great to do it all day, because I love the work and the teaching of music is, of course, a social necessity.