“Music Basti” was started in 2008 by a group of artists as a response to the reality that a majority of children are deprived of an arts based education and exposure. It’s impossible to fully articulate one’s connection and belief in work that truly inspires you. For me, music has been incredibly inspirational, and has driven me to learn far more than I ever thought I would, has taught me so many skills and values that seemed so simple and implicit at the time, that now in retrospect I have a renewed respect for. Singing in school, college and later gave me so many opportunities to learn, cooperate with a group or choir, understand performance and slowly ease away all the nerves! It gave me so many friends – who are the heart of Music Basti’s programs today because their musical talent and skill is the machinery that runs all the programs, be it through teaching, volunteering or performing.
I will never fully understand the challenges that children who are alone face. The children that Music Basti works with are sometimes called “children- at risk”, i.e. they may be street children, runaways, and orphans, abandoned by their families, society or education. It is important to build the skills of participation and inclusion along with protection, self-confidence and awareness, and a sense of self- worth. These are values and attitudes that help children excel in school and outside, and throughout their lives – no matter what profession they choose.
Acceptance and dignity go hand- in hand, it is not enough to have a program supporting the education of street children. It is important to strive to encourage acceptance of all children, irrespective of artificial differences, and to promote the dignity and worth of each child – his or her capabilities, interests and desires. This is a very important fact that I have learned from the organization that Music Basti’s work supports, i.e. “Dil Se” Campaign, Aman Biradari
Photo: Workshop at Kilkari Home for girls, “Dil Se” Campaign, Kashmere Gate, July 2010; Photo by: Sikandar M Kumar
Music Basti’s project model began as an exposure program, to create a space for learning and interaction with young artistes who could share their music and experiences with the children, it wasn’t a student- teacher paradigm but one where a large group of children were free to come in listen, share and have fun!
The children loved the concept and the program, and they were excited to see who would conduct the weekly workshops, and looked forward to them eagerly.
Over the past 2 years, The response to the project is interesting and encouraging, and regular assessments are important to ensure that children and keen and motivated to learn. To ensure this, it’s very important to take into account children’s learning interests and pace, and to base the program upon this. There is no single response to the program, different children enjoy different elements, some enjoy singing, others learning, yet others enjoy the thrill that comes from touching an instrument for the first time, and some prefer listening and watching performances.