Voice above the din
New Employment Skills for India is a new initiative, supported by Superact, Don Bosco Tech and the Bandstand Cultural Society that empowers women through music
Imagine losing all your inhibitions and self-consciousness through a game. It’s simple. Stand in a circle and turn-by-turn everyone will make a funny sound and all will end in laughter. And that feeling of being shy will fade away. This is how 75 lesser privileged women learnt to raise their voice against the circumstances that they were born into, and used their voice to sing. Superact, a UK-based non-profit organisation, joined hands with Mumbai’s Don Bosco Tech (DB Tech) and the Bandstand Cultural Society in India to do this. Their collaboration, New Employment Skills for India (NESI) equips women with skills in the arts, especially music with opportunities they otherwise may have never dreamt of.
Standing in a circle and making sounds is one of the games played to enhance their self-confidence during the NESI-Superact sessions
The idea germinated in 2012, when Alison Smith, Superact’s CEO visited The Musicians Federation of India, a platform that supported such kind of training then. Since October last year, 75 women between 18 and 60 years were chosen from a pool of 800 at DB Tech to let their voices soar. DB Tech is known to conduct classes in cooking, paper conversion, and candle making. Yet, finding expression through music, for these women, was a first.
Women breaking into laughter as each of them make some kind of sound
Not only does the training ensure employability given their partnership with the Bandstand Cultural Society but musician Stuart DaCosta who is its head, has personally mentored each of them.
Advocating how the arts aid in addressing the emotional and developmental needs of a person, he shows how many of them had a breakthrough: “In the first few sessions, we were dealt with silent, curious stares when we asked groups to vocalise a sound they heard or could imagine. We played a simple game that goes around the room. It took a while for them to raise their voice even in song or sound. But looking back, from session one until now, each of the 75 have transformed into self confident women, who believe they can put up a musical performance sprinkled with some dance.”
From communication skills to group dynamics, the women have been trained in facing adverse conditions. Along with DaCosta, there’s Anand Bhagat, a percussionist; and Renelle Snelleksz, a dance art therapist who have been making progress with the participants. This Saturday will see these 75 women perform along with music duo, B ‘n’ M consisting of guitarist Heidi Heidelberg and flautist Mauricio Velasierra.
A bright tomorrow
Does that buck stop there, we ask. DaCosta reassures us: “Already, we have plans with individual centres to create musical programs to showcase their skills in the coming year. We have arranged for follow up refresher classes. Some women have shown interest in performing arts and have started practising their routines. It’s our responsibility to give them the right validation.” NESI has its eye on a remand home in Dongri where it plans to introduce a programme for its young boys and girls
On: November 15, 5 pm
At: Sant Dyaneshwar and Baji Prabhu Udyan, Dadar Chowpatty, Dadar (W); Reception at Krida Bhavan, Shivaji Park, Dadar (W).