A unique initiative for rag pickers promises to acquaint them with different forms of music. Shreyashi DasGupta reports
Sadhav Saiyad is a 14-year-old whose life revolves around collecting garbage, loafing on the streets, looking for scraps and occasionally going to school. Like him, there are many other children who spend every day of their life on the street, picking up garbage. They have no sources of entertainment and are unable to attend school regularly.
Recently, in a first-of-its-kind initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called ACORN Foundation tied up with blueFROG, an entertainment venue and music club, to bring music to these children's doorsteps.
The concept was created by Vinod Shetty, founder of ACORN Foundation. He explains, "Almost all international forms of music have been borne of some kind of street culture. It's our mission to take music back to the streets and give the street children an opportunity to learn more."
This initiative is based on the simple concept of giving back to the streets gives the street children a chance to interact with international bands and learn about international music."
The first band to participate was The Boxettes. The performance was held at the end of April 2010. The Boxettes is a United Kingdom-based band of five young women who create sounds and beats in classical and contemporary forms using their vocal cords and no instruments. During their one-hour workshop, they taught children how to create beats, notes and music and then danced with the children to popular Hindi songs.
Talking about the workshop, 13-year-old Jyoti Bondil says, "I have always listened to Bollywood music. This sound was different and I enjoyed learning every bit of it. Every child had a different experience. 13-year-old Sonali Karekar says, "I danced for the first time with so many friends of mine. It helped me overcome my fear and nervousness." Another 12-year-old, Pratiksha Naranyankar says, "Dancing and singing are my favourite hobbies. But creating music with vocal cords was something new. I attended the workshop with my friends and found it very interesting. I wish many such workshops are held for our benefit."
Talking about the band's experience, band member Belle Ehresmann says, "Our main motive was to give these children a taste of something different. We enjoyed teaching them our kind of music. Each of them was full of talent. We helped nurture it further.
Another band member says, "We feel music is a universal language and can be used to reach the souls of children anywhere in the world. We do similar sessions in London and were very keen to do something in India. We would want to come back and spend more time working with these children as it is a great feeling to be around children and share their smiles."
Overjoyed with his learning experience, 14-year-old Sadhav Saiyad says, "I loved the workshop and got a taste of a completely different kind of music. I learnt how to create sounds with my vocal cords. I practised a couple of times and performed for my friends. I would really like to take part in such workshops in the future. It helped me to bring out my creativity."
So is this the last workshop or will similar workshops be held again? Emmanuelle says, "We would like to conduct at least six workshops a year and the money generated from our concerts will also be utilised to buy musical instruments for these children to train them in a better way.�
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