On the 19th of February we gathered at Thuis to look at the role of music in activism. Before introducing himself, Herman van Veelen
asked us to stand up from our seats and sing with him. Repeatedly singing the sentences he learned us, every time I felt stronger and more united with the other attendees.
Herman Veelen studied Music Therapy and for this studies he wrote a thesis on music and nonviolent struggle. He has about ten years of experience of using music in activism, from playing samba-music in a German coal-mine to accompanying religious hymns outside a refugee prison and performing punk-folk protest-songs at a gas-mining company.
After the singing and introduction, an interactive workshop followed. We discussed what are the important dimensions of music, shared our experiences of music in protests or collective actions, and zoomed
in on what exactly made music a powerful factor. We wrote these on post-its that you can see in the picture. Creating a sense of togetherness; easier to express; literally feeling moved; connecting to the cause: these were some of the effects of music we came up with. Herman then showed us more examples with some video fragments. From a demonstration in South-Africa, to the making of sounds from the window of one’s living room, or during the official and rigid
opening of the academic year on a high-school.
The workshop made explicit how important music is and the diversity of situations in which music plays such an important role.
We ended the workshop with singing the song from the beginning, but this time even stronger and in canon.
For more information on Herman van Veelen you can take
a look at his website: www.hermanvanveelenen.wordpress.com.
--- Review by Lois Markusse ---