Since its birth in March 2016, the GSBTB Open Music School (OMS) has grown into a complex, multi-layered project, reflecting the community it strives to serve. From the very beginning it gained a lot of attention from potential students, teachers and people just simply interested in all things musical.
At the core of the OMS is our community of teaching volunteers and students that have consistently been taking part in Guitar, Piano and Bass Guitar classes every week. These classes have been really successful at bringing people from many different cultures and backgrounds together to share their interest in music. We are currently attempting to expand our classes to more instruments, including a broader range of instruments common in the countries of our participants.
Another part of the OMS started in the early summer when a group of people attending planning meetings for the OMS initiated a series of “Open Music Tech” workshops. These meetings, held at Donau 115 in Neukölln, proved to be very popular and offered a variety of information and networking opportunities around electronic music production. A second series of workshops is currently being planned to start in late 2016! Berlin, techno-city!
There is also a quieter side of the OMS, but one that we think is important. We are slowly creating a network of other music schools, professional private tutors, music venues, youth centers, refugee advocacy groups and community spaces. The intention is to have a pool of contact information to help people within the city to both offer and utilize precious talents and resources we often have at our doorsteps but may not know about or how to access. Part of this is the OMS taking an active part in organising musician “meet-ups” (the first one coming in November). We intend for these events to bring musicians who are often isolated within the refugee community, especially those in camps, together with members of Berlin’s already vibrant music scene, creating new relationships, collaborations and musical opportunities.
The main thing holding the OMS back from growing at a level we would like to see is a lack of physical space to hold our core lessons. Most of our classes currently happen in Sharehaus, where Give Something Back to Berlin has its office. The Zwischenetage is a great room that we are really grateful to have been able to use. It is, however, in high demand and our time there is somewhat limited. We would like to take this opportunity to publicly reach out and ask: if anyone has any bright ideas about spaces in the Kreuzberg/Neukölln area that we could use or rent, please get in touch! All ideas are welcome! We’d love to hear from you.
The great American songwriter, Joni Mitchell, said she sees music as “fluid architecture”. We intend for the GSBTB Open Music School to continue to be a tool for integration and cultural exchange in this amazing city, and something that will be a part of its fluid musical architecture for years to come.
Tom Young coordinates the GSBTB Open Music School.
Header photo of 143 Band from Afghanistan and Luckless from New Zealand by Kalle Kuikkaniemi.