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CREATIVE REFUGE I: AptART

Since March, my time in Amman has been dedicated to launching and growing Sound It Out! (SIO) the music and theatre based language learning program that I introduced in my last post. Now in its third month, the project has begun to find its rhythm. Each week, a local staff of musicians, theatre artists and language instructors collaborate to offer 25 music and theater sessions for 400 displaced and disadvantaged children in Jordan.

The SIO team is currently working on a short video piece about the project, which I look forward to sharing once complete. In the meantime, I’m excited to introduce “Creative Refuge”, a summer long blog series examining other music, theatre and arts initiatives that work with refugee youth in Jordan.

AptART’s Camp Colors

Zaatari Refugee Camp, AptART 2014.

Jordan is among the most water poor places in the world. According to the United Nations, any country with an annual water supply of less than 500 cubic meters (cm) per person is considered to have “absolute scarcity” of water. Jordan’s annual per capita supply registers at just under 150cm.
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Thursday, June 5th, 2014 Thoughts 8 Comments

PA’ PICAR 010 – BOGOBEATZ

Para leer en español, click aquí.

I’d like to introduce you to Steven, Franky, Jhon, Brian, Pedro, Diego and Angie, also known as the recently-incarnated music production crew Bogobeatz.

Since the New Year, I’ve been facilitating a digital production workshop series at la Fundación Familia Ayara, a Bogotá-based organization of “hip hoppers changing the world.” The objective of the project has been to provide the students with weekly music production workshops at no cost, focusing on utilizing free downloadable production software like FL Studio and compatible software plugins. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to break down the basics of music production into weekly components so that students can walk away with practical skills to work on their own original production projects from their homes or from wherever they can access a computer setup.
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Monday, May 12th, 2014 Audio, Video 11 Comments

Why You’ve Never Heard of Any Other Online Record Labels from Northern Ghana

The Internet doesn’t work in this part of West Africa the same way it does in the US. It is always slow, and pretty inconsistent. Even with disposable income and unlimited free time, trying to do simple things like checking email, not to mention watching YouTube videos or listening to streaming music can feel like an exercise in futility. As I’m sitting here at the Wooden Cafe—the only place in town with free Wi-Fi—a number of other expats sit around me, patiently trying to use the Internet. My friend and fellow Fulbrighter Karl Haas has been trying to open an email for about ten minutes. Not an attachment, just an email. So starting an online record label here is challenging, to say the least.
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Monday, May 5th, 2014 Audio 15 Comments

PLAN (A)B(C)

SIO music instructor Owais Omari with student in Amman

Unexpected Findings

I am sitting on a classroom floor at the primary school in Yaffa – a hillside village 20 miles from Amman – listening to thirty children play with various percussion instruments at nearly deafening decibels. Without too much trouble, my colleague Sami softens the group’s excitement and the students find a steady yet powerful unified beat. He begins a call-and-response exercise meant to teach English letter names and sounds, layering fun rhythms with nonsense syllables and short English words. The children shout eagerly in reply, their focus interrupted only by their laughter.

I am awash in a sense of relief. The class is the first session in a new program that has been months in the making. But the experience is also a surreal one. I did not plan to teach English while in Jordan, nor did I intend to design and implement a language program for several hundred children.
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 Thoughts 52 Comments

Sakasaka Music’s First Digital Release – Abu Sadiq

It is my great pleasure to announce the release of Sakasaka Music’s first digital album, available April 15th, 2014. A compilation of Abu Sadiq’s songs from across his career, the tracks for this album were chosen by Mr. Abu and I. As you’ll recall from a previous post, Mr. Abu is one of the most well known singers in the Northern Region, and this release makes him just the second Tamale-based artist to have his music for sale online.
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 Video No Comments

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