Nefes Art and Culture Institution (Nefes Kültür Sanat Derneği – Nefes) is one of the recipients of our Covid-19 Emergency Fund. The Nefes Music School Project (Nefes Müzik Okulu), which is supported by Support Foundation for Civil Society within the scope of Culture and Arts Fund in 2019, provides music education on rhythm and traditional instruments for Syrian and Turkish children. On 8 March 2020, the association was required to suspend all of its activities due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, Nefes plans to complete the remaining 16 lessons online. According to the new lesson plan, instructors will be present at Nefes Music School and will give live online lessons to students. Therefore, Nefes will use this grant to adapt its activities to the digital environment by purchasing the necessary equipment and completing the remaining courses of the project.
Please see below our interview with Nefes about the challenges that they went through during the Covid-19 19 and how they overcame them.
Similar to many other civil society organisations, Nefes Culture and Art Association carries out some of its activities online due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Can you tell us about the positive and negative aspects of online music education for the children and young people you work with?
With the COVID-19 outbreak, “new normals” started to be defined in the life of each organisation and even each individual. During this period, our children got acquainted with online tools for their formal education. Since they got used to using online tools, the children were able to adapt quickly to the changes in our lesson plans. This adaptation that took place in this short time has affected us positively. Our music education was not interrupted in technical terms. However, the switch to online education affected the communication and interactions between the teachers and the children. This process deprived the children of dialogues among each other at the end of the lessons, one-to-one information sharing among friends and sometimes fun games.
Nefes Culture and Art Association was one of the beneficiaries of the grant we have provided under the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund with the financing of the Turkey Mozaik Foundation. What kind of activities have you carried out with this grant?
We used the grant we received from the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for the purchase of digital tools that enabled us to switch to online music education during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak. During this period, we held live lessons and made an intense effort to ensure that these lessons could reach our children without any interruptions and in high quality by using the most suitable technical equipment. Thanks to the live lessons, we were able to achieve our goals for the Nefes Music School. In this period, we completed 19 online and 19 face-to-face classes on solfege and choir with the participation of 40 Syrian and Turkish children aged between 8 and 16. The mini-concert videos we prepared with our students as a way of celebrating the end of the year were watched with great interest on our social media accounts.
Children and young people are among the most affected groups by the conditions of the outbreak. How does your work at the Nefes Music School affect children and young people facing various challenges and restrictions at this time?
The children felt seriously lonely as their schools continued online. The psychology of staying away from friends and being at home all the time has been a situation that children had difficulty coping with. The children who took part in the Nefes Music School Project were able to get away from this loneliness. Life in many areas was at a standstill. The fact that children can still be productive and exhibit their talents has made them psychologically stronger so they have been less affected by this process.
The situation is the same for the families. Families sought solutions to save their children from this isolation. Thus, since our music school provided a space where children can entertain and learn it turned out to be a valuable place for the families as well. The project showed that their children’s social life could continue in this process and that they did not lose their productivity. This made them very happy.
With the support of the Spaces of Culture Program, you are implementing a capacity-building project for the instructors and students of the Nefes Music School. Can you tell us about the work you have done within the scope of this project?
We think we have realised the best possible project for this year with this support. Our instructors had the chance to learn about and apply different methods for music education through workshops with professional musicians. In addition, while they were working with the professionals, good ideas for new projects emerged.
It was very good work for our children as well. Meeting professional musicians, whom they consider as “celebrities”, made them very happy. Brand new horizons opened up for them in the field of music and other areas of life in their one-on-one conversations. Their love and interest in their instruments increased. The children have discovered that there are no limits to music. We believe that the conversations they have had with the professional musicians on life and on their music careers will also guide the future plans of our children.
What will be the priorities and plans of the Nefes Culture and Arts Association in 2021?
The activities of the Nefes Music School Project, initiated by our association in 2018, will continue in 2021. In the past months, we have engaged in various fundraising activities to continue with this project and also developed its content by adding new instrument lessons. This project is now open to participants from all age groups. Any music lover without age restriction who is open to learning can take part in our project. Due to the increasing number of our students, we have to expand our classroom areas therefore we are focusing on fundraising activities to cover these costs. The capacity building project we carried out for the instructors and students of Nefes Music School will also continue. We aim to develop this project further in 2021.
About Nefes Art and Culture Institution (Nefes Kültür Sanat Derneği – Nefes)
Nefes Art and Culture Institution (Nefes Kültür Sanat Derneği – Nefes) was established by Syrian and Turkish young artists and art enthusiasts in Gaziantep where many Syrian immigrants live.
Nefes provides culture and arts trainings for children and young people to create local communities with an emphasis on multiculturalism and the value of cultural heritage through art production and participation. Association creates a cultural and artistic space that allows informal education processes for Syrian and Turkish children and young people to take place. Furthermore, they aim to enable individuals and communities to express themselves creatively through art and to empower them with cultural and artistic skills.