In 2016 in partnership with Musicians without Borders – and coordinated locally within the Occupied Palestinian Territories by their project manager, Fabienne van Eck – we delivered a locally adapted version of the Distance Learning model which had proven so impactful in Romania. They wanted targeted training to give their social workers and musical activity leaders new skills to work with children with greater needs than they felt able to address using their existing approach.

Eight local caregivers from the charity took part in the training, learning to introduce interactive music-making to children living in refugee camps and isolated villages as well as those who attended a local centre for children with special needs.

All of the students taking part gained new skills and understanding of the different ways music can improve outcomes for children. Yet the most striking aspect of learning a new child-led approach for many of the caregivers was that it gave the children the freedom to reveal parts of themselves that were previously hidden.

I believe the sessions gave Fadi a safe space to show us who he really is; to share with us his thoughts, his world, all through the music.

Distance learning student

Through this process, caregivers and the children they worked with were able to form more meaningful connections. The adults began to see the children as individuals to be understood and accepted, rather than simply a disruptive or troublesome child.

It made me discover so many beautiful things in the children that I wasn’t open for before. It made it very easy to love them.

Distance learning student

The eight students enrolled in 2016 completed the training, achieving an average grade of “Good” 8/10 on their written assignments. As they put their learning into practice, they created opportunities for around 2,000 children to access music as part of their care.