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Iraqi Kids growing up in the sound of explosions and sirens, find Refuge in Music

The motto of "Children's Orchestra," a summer program is “Culture fights backwardness and extremism”

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Iraqi kids playing musical instruments. Image source: VOA

Sept 06, 2016: In Iraq and many other places in the world, children grow up to the sound of explosions and sirens too often. But in a classroom in Basra, a different sound surrounds them — music.

“Children’s Orchestra” is the brainchild of Adnan Sahi, head of the music department at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Basra. The motto of this summer program is “Culture fights backwardness and extremism.”

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“Human behavior in general, and children’s is a response to a stimulus- a reflection of their environment,” Sahi says. “What we’re trying do is keep the Iraqi child from the negative environmental effects caused by the surrounding violent tensions. We try to keep our children away from the language of violence, the language of exclusion.”

This is his work of art. He envisions the “Children’s Orchestra” as a safe haven for these children. Kids as young as five can join the program to learn a set of skills they would never pick up, if they were left to play in the streets.

Enrollment in this music school is free, but students had to buy their own instruments.

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Ridha Falah says playing instruments is a unique experience for him. “I haven’t seen a piano before, only on TV,” he says, “but now we are playing with one in addition to the guitar and violin, so it’s way better than playing with toy guns and that sort of stuff.”

Instructors volunteer to work with kids because they share Sahi’s belief that music can shield children from the violence around them and provide them with a fun and positive summer experience before they go back to school.

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Basra’s “Children’s Orchestra” is not the first attempt to help kids heal and thrive through arts.Other projects included an art program in an Iraqi orphanage in Bagdad, and a ballet school in Arbeel.

Different approaches to the same end; using art to change Iraqi children’s lives, so they can change their world. (VOA)

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Music Composer A.R. Rahman Feels That Indie and English Music Need To Be Nurtured

NEXA Music will kick off with the launch of four original tracks sung by acclaimed celebrity artists Rahman, Anushka Manchanda, Nikhil D'souza and Uday Benegal

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A.R Rahman. Wikimedia

Veteran music composer A.R. Rahman has said that Indie and English music have always been like an underdog in India but it needs to be helped and nurtured in coming years.

Rahman was interacting with the media at a press conference of Nexa Music launch along with artists Uday Benegal, Clinton Cerejo, Anushka Manchanda, Nikhil D’souza and R S Kalsi, senior executive director-marketing and sales Maruti Suzuki India on Wednesday in Mumbai.

The initiative by NEXA is curated to provide aspiring Indian musicians a platform to compose original lyrics. NEXA Music invites entries from budding musicians across the country to participate in it.

The participants will be mentored by famous music composers and global music icon A R Rahman, supported by singer Clinton Cerejo.

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When asked if he feels that English and Indie music in India is going to capture the market, he said, “It needs to be helped and it needs to be nurtured. I think nothing is wrong with film music. It’s beautiful but it has been commissioned like, there you have to write for a situation and those are limited but I think here whole universe is your imagination.”

“Sometimes Indie music actually inspires movies and I want that to happen. I want a song from Indie music to go in film music. It is not a compulsion but I feel people’s mind should never be closed.”

When asked what benefit singers and musicians are going to get through Nexa Music, he said, “They are mainly going to get exposure from this venture. We are not telling many things because we don’t want to promise too much and not deliver. This is just the first step and second step is something on which we are working on.”

NEXA Music will kick off with the launch of four original tracks sung by acclaimed celebrity artists Rahman, Anushka Manchanda, Nikhil D’souza and Uday Benegal. (IANS)