The wonderful initiative “MitMachMusik – Ein Weg zur Integration von Flüchtlingskindern (JoinInMusic – A Way towards Integrating Refugee Children)” shows what an impact music can have. It was established more than three years ago by paediatricians, music educators and volunteers from Berlin. Since 2015, more than 300,000 children and young people have arrived here. Traumatised by experiences of war and displacement, these children live in cramped, ghetto-like lodgings, embedded in the tensions between different cultures, religions and political convictions. If we want to follow the slogan “Our Children Are our Future”, we have to add: “These Children Are our Future, Too”. If we do not manage to integrate them into our social system emotionally, culturally, intellectually and with regards to language, they face a future full of violence and crime, comparable to that of South American street children, and we face the emergence of new social hotspots. We must prevent this.
In as many as eleven refugee hostels and meeting points, music groups led by professional musicians and educators support the self-confidence and the integration of children by singing and making music together. “The children arrive here and are speechless. We give them a voice through their own activity”, says Pamela Rosenberg, former director of Berliner Philharmoniker and co-initiator of the project. Every day, the children bring what they have learned to their parents, making music into a link between them and us, too. Since 2018, they have been regularly meeting with children from Berlin to make music together, and they have even worked up the courage for first encounters with the Berliner Philharmoniker as part of their Education Programme. For many of the professionals who teach these children, these encounters – to rephrase the words of Yehudi Menuhin: “Life is a constant exchange” – are a bigger gift than the audience’s applause after a concert.
The concert on 22 September will hopefully help to find many new benefactors to ensure that this successful initiative cannot only continue but can even expand beyond the city limits of Berlin and Potsdam.