The EAS Student Forum 2014 took place from 19th to 22nd May, prior to the EAS Conference held from 21st to 24th May at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus. 14 students from 11 countries had the opportunity to meet and take part in the programme carefully prepared by Branka Rotar Pance, Marina Gall, Jaroslava Lojdová and the student delegates Janina Wiesener and Demetris Michael.
On the first afternoon, there were few ‘warm up games’ to help us get to know each other. Branka invited us to sing „Frère Jacques“ in our own language. After that she gave us some candy and everyone was sent in the group according the candy flavour he or she had been given. In those small groups, we created something new from this song. The results were very different, even though we’d all worked with the same song: there were experimentations using different languages, a special dimension of music, with rhythm and expression, and with the addition of body percussion and dramatic elements. At this point, we had already started to face issues related to inclusion and diversity, the main theme of the EAS Student Forum 2014. Janina then presented a short report from the EAS Student Forum 2013; Marina and Branka followed with an overview of the programme for the next days. We wrote our first entries in the diary we were to keep, daily, both as a personal reflection, and as important feedback for Marina and Branka. Afterwards, Demetris took us to a restaurant and we had our first meal together.
The next morning, after a short night – the muezzin of a nearby mosque sang every morning from 4 to 4.30 am – we were split into small groups. Each one of us had prepared one warm up activity and one music piece, and this was the time to teach it to each other. Each group chose one warm up activity and one song to show in the plenary that followed. We exchanged our ideas and were given feedback. After lunch, we were again split into (new) groups for a poster session. Students from each country had prepared a poster explaining music in school in his or her country, and how the curriculum considered inclusion and diversity. We talked about the school systems in our countries and discussed similarities and differences, which we later presented to the other groups. Just before writing our diary and heading off for dinner, Agni Sacca offered us a very welcome percussion workshop, with rhythms from both Asia and Africa. We had dinner with the members of the Doctoral Student Forum and the EAS Board in a very cheerful atmosphere.
The third day started with Marina’s great input session about diversity and inclusion in music education. We thought about some key questions we wanted to discuss in more detail and split into smaller groups, according to the subject that most interested us. After a lunch with some of the Doctoral Student Forum members, Jaroslava Lojdová introduced us to Youth Initiatives in Europe. We again split into the smaller groups to start preparing the next day’s presentation for the EAS conference. After writing our diary, we were just in time to walk to the main building of the University of Nicosia to attend the opening ceremony. We were already a (very) strong group and had lots of fun in the center of Nicosia, were we stopped near every street musician and danced and sang, and eventually performed some of the musical activities we’d taught to each other the day before. Back in the hostel we sat together in the courtyard for many hours – we didn’t know that on the next day, due to some orthodox celebration, the pope would follow the muezzin and sing without a break from 6 to 8 am.
On our last morning all together in Nicosia, very tired and very happy, we set off early for the rehearsal of our presentation. Sadly, we were so busy with the final rehearsal that we couldn’t attend Lucy Green’s keynote paper on “Informal music practices and children’s learning in the formal context”. After our presentation, which went well, we met for some final discussion and feedback and our last diary session. Some people stayed for the conference, some went to the beach and some to the airport.
A big thank you to Marina and Branka, who were both very patient about our always rather approximate sense of punctuality (especially in the mornings) and who led the Forum very carefully.