The first
journey to Public School #198 upon our return to Georgia felt
surreal. To be walking past the tiny open zoo, accompanied by the
cacophonous chorus of car horns – it’s as if the last seven
months back in the UK were a strange dream, and we had been in
Tbilisi all along. Any nerves were dissipated upon arriving at the
school, where we were greeted with warm smiles, steaming Turkish
coffee and a huge slab of creamy Georgian cake – perhaps not the
most digestible breakfast at 9am on a Monday morning!

We came
prepared this time, having arranged for our translator Eliso to be
with us on this first day, and with her able assistance held
interviews with the school staff who were involved in the six-week
training project last autumn at this school and at the Parents
Bridge day centre. It was heartening to hear their positive
feedback, to have confirmation of the continuation of the music
sessions and their observations of the positive changes in the
children. Also encouraging was our talk with the headteacher,
Teona, who revealed some grand ambitions for the future of music
therapy not only in the school, and also in wider Tbilisi. She also
shared with us some of the work that the apparently now high
profile Para Orchestra, the music group from the Parents Bridge,
have carried out over the last few months, including a live
performance on television – see video below!

We also found
out on this first day back that the following day happened to be a
national holiday in recognition of Georgia’s Independence Day,
which raised some minor concerns about how to fit everything in to
such a short week! Careful planning however avoided any major
disadvantage, and on a personal level it was very exciting to spend
this day in Tbilisi, enjoying the street celebrations of all things

For the
remaining mornings of the week, we observed as many sessions as
possible, and provided feedback and support to the staff members
with Eliso’s help. A sense of progress was evident in each
session, and we had lots of suggestions for how to develop the
programme further in these two settings. However, things didn’t
always go smoothly; for example while waiting for one session to
start a face popped into the room, shouted ‘surprise’ and then
someone dressed as a huge Haribo bear burst into the room!

On Wednesday
afternoon, we had an invitation to watch yet another performance of
the Para Orchestra at the Bridge Centre, to mark the opening of the
new ‘music therapy room’ at this setting. We found this very
encouraging – it seemed clear how music has become such a central
part of the provision at this day centre, and the engagement and
energy created by the involvement in musical activity was palpable.
We were also impressed (and slightly intimidated) by the presence
of a news crew from the Georgian equivalent of the BBC to record
this momentous event!

the highlight of the week was the networking meeting between staff
from Public School #200 (the setting for Project Georgia 2012) and
the two settings for our project. As was said in the meeting
itself, it was as if history was being made; perhaps the very first
meeting of music therapists in Georgia! By the end of the meeting,
the representatives from all of the settings were enthusiastically
discussing their work and were making exciting plans for the
future. Watch this space…

It has been a
privilege to return to Tbilisi and reconnect with all the wonderful
staff, students and service users at these two settings and we hope
to maintain this relationship in the future.

Jenny and Isabel