“Music is equality for everyone!”
Youth proving that it is possible to make a change for the better in their city
The final preparations for the big performance are taking place at the Day Care Centre Neven in Prnjavor. The performance is scheduled for 6 September on the stage in the main city park. For the past month, Katarina, Maja and Nemanja from the band and the UpShift team Deminutiv, together with volunteers Sanja and Branka, have been introducing the children and young people from Neven to music and musical instruments. Veca, Ado, Đorđe, Peđa, Jovan, Ljubiša and others can't wait to show their skills in front of the audience!
"Let's go to a concert!" says Jovan, who oversaw distributing instruments at the last workshop and will play castanets at the concert. Ado and Veca took the tambourine, while Đorđe says he can play anything.
"I'm already ready and I'm going to put on my most beautiful shirt! There is no stage fright, Ado and I go on stage and play", adds Nedeljko. Predrag was among the most cheerful at the workshop, and his mother Novka Dušanić, who is also the president of the Neven Association, says that the workshops had a positive effect on him and everyone else at the Centre:
"As a parent, I was delighted when Nemanja and the band came to us with the idea of organizing workshops and having a concert at the end, and today my heart is full. Every child has a talent and skill, they fit in perfectly! I can't wait for the concert, it's like I'm going to perform," says Novka.
Slobodanka Škobić, who works in the Association as a social worker, is also preparing for the concert with the team:
"This is the first time we have had music therapy workshops like this, they really liked it, and they love it when the band comes, and they look forward to it every time. It is interesting, that it had a positive effect on their spirit, they looked forward to every meeting, and they came and loved the rock music and ethnic songs they prepared. The dress rehearsal went well, I think everything will look great and the audience will be satisfied".
The Deminutiv team is one of the winners of the First Joint Upshift workshop of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Serbia held in Sarajevo in May this year, where they pointed out the problem that young people with developmental disabilities are not given enough opportunities to be educated in music.
"This was a great experience for us, and we enjoyed working with children and young people at the Centre", says Maja, a member of the band and a senior year student at the Secondary Music School in Prnjavor, while Nemanja adds that every workshop brightened the day and lifted the spirits of the team from Neven, but also to them from the band:
"We played together, we sang, we presented our instruments to them, there was also a friend of ours with a violin, we learned from each other, and the point was to get together. Music is equal for everyone, and we have shown that. We prepared them for the concert, they will go on stage, people will applaud them, and they will feel the same thing that we feel at each of our performances", says Nemanja, a freshman at the Music Academy in Banja Luka, recalling how the band's story began:
"We decided to organize a concert to raise funds for the Day Centre, and since then we have somehow been in constant contact. Due to organizational matters, we were not able to hold a concert at the time, but later we decided to end the projects we were working on with a final concert, from which we necessarily allocate part of the proceeds to the Centre, and now we play at least one concert a year for them".
"We always personally take the funds collected from the concert to them, and every time it is an opportunity for socializing that is already going on. They helped us too; once they lent us a vehicle to go to a performance. It was an honour for us that after so many years of friendship, we could work directly with the team from Neven and that our idea for music workshops that went very well passed on the UpShift, to the great satisfaction of all of us", adds Katarina to whom, she says, Deminutiv changed life:
"The others are from Prnjavor and know each other through school, and I am from Derventa and know them through the band. I came to their rehearsal by chance through a friend, I knew three chords and didn't know anyone in Prnjavor. Through gigs and socializing with them, I decided to enrol in the Secondary Music School in Prnjavor, which I finished, and now I have enrolled in the Music Academy in Banja Luka. If I hadn't come to the rehearsal, I probably would have stayed on those three chords and would not have continued my musical education".
In addition to Neven, the UNICEF UpShift program also had a great influence on Deminutiv, in whose workshop they participated in 2020 when they decided to solve the problem "How to find an adequate solution for music training?". The idea was to equip a music practice room in Prnjavor where they would be able to practice but also to give space to all other musicians so that they would have an easier path.
"We saw the invitation for UpShift, so we would meet in the evening after all the commitments, and write until midnight. Due to pandemic, the workshops were online, but we managed to handle it and passed. We have eceived grant of BAM 3,000, and bought four speakers and a mixer, and that's how it started. As soon as we had the opportunity, we organized workshops, taught young people to play, held education, presentations about music and bands, and later we held the final concert".
Encouraged by the positive experience with the UpShift, they continued to apply for various projects related to music, and invested funds in new equipment so that they were also recognized by the City of Prnjavor, from which they received a grant for soundproofing and some other works:
"Since the beginning, we have had the support of the Prnjavor Cultural Centre, which gave us the space that we manage. The use of the practice room is free, but most bands who know how much such spaces normally cost, often leave a "tip" that we invest in the further equipment of the practice room. In addition to bands, solo musicians also come here, we have a friend who comes and practices the violin in silence so that no one bothers him, and now the space can also be used for recording".
The UPSHIFT programme was created in UNICEF's Office of Innovation and is implemented in 38 countries around the world. UPSHIFT in Bosnia and Herzegovina is implemented by the humanitarian organization Genesis Project in cooperation with the UNICEF Office in BiH, with the financial support of DP World. The third eUpShift workshop in which the Deminutiv team participated at the end of 2020 was held with the support of the Kingdom of Sweden.