If this is the first time that you access one of our Best Practices pages, please read the following, otherwise jump directly to the information about the Erasmus+ Educational events in Sertã.
All Erasmus Plus funded events in ICC include simultaneous Joint Staff Training Events (JSTE) and Blended Mobility of Learners Events (BMLE).
JSTE are events aiming at improving skills, competences and knowledge of the staff of participating institutions. The goal of ICC's JSTEs is improving skills in musical direction techniques, communication methods, management of relationship with institutions and other actors relevant for choirs’ activities, specific musical techniques that can be particularly useful when dealing with inclusive practices, organizational arrangements that can help or hinder inclusion.
BMLEs are activities aimed at learners. They are blended because they are carried on both in-person and using Internet based communication and cooperation tools, such as email, forum, wiki, videoconference. In ICC the Internet-based part serves as preparation and follow up of in-person meetings: learners learn and discuss online the songs that they will rehearse and perform together in the meetings. Learners in ICC are improving their singing techniques and widening their repertoire. They are also experimenting different form of warming-up, communication, inclusion and musical conduction.
The simultaneity of the to events allow for immediate experimentation of the musical and inclusive techniques showed by the host on learners coming from the different countries, so to assess their efficacy and possible implementation problems depending ion different cultural backgrounds. Also, the learners will be able to report to their choirs and share the experience from their point of view.
Before the meetings in Sertã, learners and musicians met online and broke ice, exchanging self-introductory videos and messages in the forum like this one:
After that, they spent several weeks exchanging music, rehearsing and discussing it. This video shows a recordings made during a rehearsal of the Italian group, shared on the reserved section of the site:
They also talked about their expectations about the meetings. Their ideas were combined and summarized in a wiki, which can be find here in static format (the conversion form wiki format to PDF is far from perfect, but the documents should give a good idea of the wiki all the same).
In Sertã, the reception by part of the host was extremely warm and well organized.
The major of the town welcomed the participants in the city hall, which was also the venue of most of the activities. There rehearsals, presentations, discussions and evaluation sessions took place.
In addition, a short cavaquinhos concert was held in there. Only two important activities were carried out outside the town hall: a visit to Varzea Dos Cavaleiros, one of the villages touched by the “"Touring Cycle of Concerts in Sertã Villages" project, and the final musical performance, that took place in the Matriz da Sertã church. Here is the detailed program of the activities.
Back home, several follow up activities were performed, that were summarized in the last chapters of the wiki and contributed to the global evaluation of the event.
We spent the following weeks preparing the Events in Onesti. Unfortunately, the pandemic exploded...
2.1 Impact on Personal Development
The Blended Mobility made a lasting impression on all learners. Many of them described it as “unforgettable” and “unique”, as they never had before the opportunity to share their passion for singing with people from other countries, enjoying at the same time the opportunity to know other cultures and traditions. For some of the participants the meeting was also a”first time”: first travel by airplane, first experience abroad, first opportunity to get acquainted with foreign people, contributing to making it something extremely intense and important for their lives.
Participants got a very good impression of each other and of all the people involved in the educational events. Relationships got quickly quite relaxed and warm and the desire of communicate contributed to overcome the language barrier. Most participants made friends with whom they are still in touch, mostly through Facebook, Whatsapp or phone, because the forum facility provided by the Moodle platform is deemed less accessible and immediate. Participants left with the impression that they really got to know people, not only met them.
One important result achieved through the meeting, mentioned by several participants, was the strengthening of individual and group self-esteem. People felt important, useful and valuable. Also, the presence of older persons promoted awareness of the needs of this part of the population, and especially their need to feel integral part and active of a group.
All participants reported improvement in foreign language communication skills and achievement of a certain familiarity with culture, nature, food, music, traditions and history of the host country and to lesser extent, of partner countries aș well.
From the musical point of view many learners complained that the time available for rehearsals was too limited. In spite of that, the learning process was extremely effective and the songs were satisfactorily learned and performed. Even the pronunciation obstacle was overcome quite easily. As many learner stated, this was also helped by the preliminary work done on the platform, where songs were presented, recorded, and explained in their musical features, origins andWelcome by the Major of Sertã meaning.
2.2 Impact on Professional Development - Pedagogical and Musical Methodologies
All staff reported an impact on communication techniques. Language related difficulties were huge, but they pushed them to make an effort to simplify and reduce to the essence their own thoughts.
Also, body language was important and they started to use it more than usual.
Partners learned several lessons from each other: for example, the Italians noticed a strong sense of community in the Serta choir, which definitely helps in enhancing the inclusive potential of musical activities, and this could be used by the Italian staff to improve the conditions of elderly people in resting homes by involving even more relatives and families. On the other hand, the Portuguese staff believes that the examples provided by the Italians on how to include people with different abilities can be used to include more easily people with special needs and mobility limitations.
Romanian share with the Portuguese the practice of touring in the neighboring villages so that those who do not have access to the events organized by the association in the city can have the opportunity to actively take part. The inclusive needs are of course reflecting the specific features of the different societies. The Romanian society has its specificity (an aging population, which has to cope with tasks that cannot be abandoned, the lack of the middle generation that went to work abroad, a young generation with which it is often difficult to communicate), but on the other hand, the Romanian staff have realized that they can also turn their attention to people with special needs, with mobility difficulties, to whom they can propose dedicated activities.
Staff of involved organization agree that the JSTE gave the chance to practically learn about inclusion and learn techniques that can e applied with adults and many categories of people with disabilities.
Most musicians think that the songs were very stimulating and interesting, although sometimes it is difficult to cope with the pronunciation. However, the pronunciation guides that were upload to the site are very helpful. Apart from that, the musical material was not too difficult and was chosen wisely, having in mind the skills of the people who would sing it. Also, the repertoire poses varied difficulties: some songs can and should be developed and interpreted creatively, even if they are simple, such as “Taglia taglia”, others should be interpreted respecting the score and the composer, as is the case of “Canticorum”.
Most of them were appreciated by the singers, more after the learning events than in preliminary phase, when the songs were studied in national groups only. Romanians liked the most “Here We Come A Wassailing”, because it is cheerful and energetic and because it can welcome anyone. Worth mentioning is the fact that the Bulgarian song “Hubava si moya goro”, that features all the specific characteristics of Eastern European cultures, such as the lyricism, the melodicity, the words referring to the human connection with nature, was highly appreciated by all partners, as evidenced by the forum discussions and the comments made during the meeting.
From the technical point of view, the JSTE gave the opportunity to observe different conductor’s styles and develop the ability to facilitate a choir in a combination of different languages. Warm up techniques were also exchanged, which is extremely useful and also for the future work of the choirs.
The JSTE also gave the possibility to observe in action different strategies of musical inclusion during the rehearsals that can be reused in ordinary choir activity. Some communication strategies and conducting methods were very effective in making everyone feel comfortable and be able to perform at their best without be anxious of making mistakes.
For example, using a warm and reassuring voice, an open and keen eye, a well chosen posture and open gestures, a smiling expression and an explicit invitation to take everything lightly and without fear.
In general, musicians were very impressed by the relaxed attitude of some of them conductors, and the ease with which they conveyed it to others.
From a strictly musical point of view, some techniques are particularly worth mentioning:
The arrangements were very simple and the songs could be sung without difficulty. The simplicity and the game character of learning improved the singers’ confidence in themselves and created the possibility to interpret the songs.
At the end of the events, a concert was held by a choir made up of the educators and adult learners who took part in the educational events. The program was composed of six pieces, two Portuguese and one for each of the other countries represented by the partnership:
Senhora do Almurtão
Is a traditional song from Beira Baixa. According to legend, the image of the Virgin appeared in a thicket of myrtles. The people who found it collected it in the Church of Monsanto, having disappeared was found in the myrtle where it first appeared, so the chapel was built there.
"Taglia Taglia" is an harvesting folk tune, first recorded in 1965 in Tuscany. It is a work song, sang, and probably composed as well, in the fields. The text explicitly mention harvesting.
The rhythm of the song follows that of the work. The initial "oh"s remind the physical effort of the workers. The tune is very simple and can be accompanied by rhythmical elements sound-gesture, as it was when it was originally sang in the fields.More information and resources on Taglia Taglia.
„Ana Lugojana” (Ana from Lugoj) is a song whose first version belongs to Nica Iancu Iancovici, a very well known and talented community musician (lautar) from Lugoj, who lived in the middle of the century XIX. It is said that the model for the character that the song speaks of was the daughter of the musician. Later, in 1891, one of the greatest masters of Romanian choral music, Ion Vidu, composes the choral version that we interpret today.
The song has strong folkloric influences, taking over the rhythm of dances from Transylvania, of which the song speaks. The score of Ion Vidu preserves the original melodic line, transcribing it for two voices with the means of cult music.
„Ana Lugojana” is a song that describes both the beauty of women, whose prototype is Ana from Lugoj, as well as the dance in pairs specific to the folklore area of Transylvania.More information and resources on Ana Lugojana.
Hubava si moya goro
The lyric song "Hubava si moya goro" ("You Are Beautiful, My Forest") is one of the most popular Bulgarian song.
The poem "Hubava si moya goro" was written by the immortal Bulgarian poet Lyuben Karavelov and was first printed in the magazine "Znanie(Knowledge)", I, Vol. 9, May 15, 1875, which Karavelov published in Bucharest. The text is written in emigration and reflects the author"s nostalgia for his native nature, it is considered an expression of his homesick nostalgia, and the paintings depicted in the work are real places of Karavelov's birthplace - Koprivshtitsa.
Until the mid-20th century, "Hubava si moya goro" took the form of a poem, and then the young composer Georgi Goranov added a melody to the lyrics, creating one of the most memorable Renaissance songs.
The poem of Karavelov is considered as the national anthem of the town of Koprivshtitsa and of the National Council of Bulgarian Folk Art.
To date the song have a lots of arrangements and has been sung by dozens of performers, in various genres - folk singers, pop, pop folk and rock singers. It has been translated into several languages.
Nowadays, "Hubava si moya goro" is most often listened by the millions of Bulgarian immigrants in the world who have "needed" to leave Bulgaria. And what they have left is to experience nostalgia with listening to texts like the one written by Karavelov 145 years ago.More information and resources on Hubava si moya goro.
Here We Come A-Wassailing!
Wassail is an old English word meaning ‘Good Health’ It has become associated with Christmas and New Year, usually taking place after Christmas and up to 12th night or old 12th Night (17th January).
The tradition has two forms.
The Orchard Wassail: Singers gather in an apple orchard to sing to the trees and make lots of noise (including firing shotguns in through the branches of the trees). Other aspects of this tradition is to hang toasted bread in the branches and pour warm spiced cider over the roots. This should all keep the bad spirits away from the tress to ensure a good crop of apples for next year’s cider.
The Visiting Wassail: A small informal choir visits a neighbour and sing to them, receive food and drink to toast everyone good health and Happy New Year! Then moving on to the next neighbour and so on. Much food and drink is consumed through the evening.
We have chosen this song as we meet soon after the season and we can help wish each other a Happy new year! This particular song is a local version from Chittlehampton in Devon.
Canticorum Jubilo (i.e. Let Us Sing With Joy!), from the composer George Frideric Handel, is a song that honors Christ as our King.