Heartbeat: Music for Peace


Song writing with Heartbeat members
Heartbeat, by permission

How do you get to know different people in your community? Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma look at a musical group bringing people together in Israel-Palestine.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

It is a warm day in the city of Jerusalem. Nine young people walk into a restaurant. But they are not there to buy and eat a meal. Instead, they are there to play music. These band members carry their instruments and sound equipment with them. They sit down and prepare.

Voice 2 

Soon, they begin playing music for the people eating in the restaurant. A young woman sings a song she wrote. A young man begins to sing with her. Other band members play instruments like wooden guitars, string violins and drums to play the beat.

Voice 1 

The band plays well together. They seem like a normal music group. However, something makes this band very unusual. The members of this band are part of a community organization called Heartbeat. This organization brings together young people from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their goal is to work toward understanding and peace in Israel-Palestine using music. Today’s Spotlight is on the international music community, Heartbeat.

Voice 2 

In 2007, Aaron Shneyer lived in the city of Jerusalem. Shneyer knew well the long history of conflict between the state of Israel and the Palestinian territories.  But he also believed in the power of individual people to build peace. Shneyer wanted to help bring peace by building trust between Palestinians and Israelis. He told the Georgetown University news organization,

Voice 3 

“We are in conflict because people fear and do not trust the ‘other side.’ People who want peace do not know how to connect with other people who desire peace. Or, they do not believe other people who desire peace exist.”

Voice 1

As a musician, Shneyer believed music could help break down barriers. He believed that music could connect individuals and build trust. He explained to The Daily Targum newspaper,

Voice 3 

“I am a musician. So the power of music greatly interests me. I believe that music is a physical force that shapes the way we feel. It can open people up to one another.”

Voice 2 

So Shneyer decided to start Heartbeat: Jerusalem. Heartbeat encourages Israeli and Palestinian students to work together to create music. To do this, they must first learn about each other’s music. Each student shares their own kind of music with the other students. And together, they can create music that combines their different musical styles.

Voice 1 

Creating music together helps the students concentrate on what connects them. It also helps them build trust. Heartbeat hopes that the students will share both their music and their experiences with their larger communities.

Voice 2 

Shneyer began the Heartbeat program by recruiting young, skilled musicians. He wanted to gather young musicians together to choose the very best. He told many music teachers about the program. These teachers helped him spread his message to both Israeli and Palestinian students. The first year, he had 50 high school students play instruments or sing for him. From that group he chose 12 students. These 12 began learning and practicing music together in January 2008.

Voice 1 

Heartbeat meetings include both students and professional musicians. These professionals help the students improve their music skills. They also help the students use their different kinds of music together.

Voice 2 

However, Heartbeat does not just concentrate on music. Shneyer soon recognized that the students needed more guidance - to help them express their thoughts and emotions. So he also invited two facilitators to the meetings. These trained facilitators help people talk together. They help individuals listen, discuss and understand their experiences.

Voice 1 

At Heartbeat, music, discussion and listening work together. Siwar Mansour is one of the Heartbeat students. She described her experience to Religion and Ethics News Weekly.

Voice 4 

“I have learned so much. I have learned to listen. We all talk about listening and about being there. A lot of times we can sit with people for hours. We hear them but we are not listening to them. And something that I learned to do is to calm down and really listen. And I think when I started doing that I became a better musician too.”

Voice 2 

Working in an area where there is conflict can be difficult. When violence happens, sometimes Heartbeat meetings are cancelled. Other times, the group must move and meet in a different building or place. However, even when there is conflict, the work of Heartbeat keeps going. In fact, conflict makes the work of Heartbeat even more important.

Voice 1 

During times of violence, music helps the students communicate and share their experience. Shneyer described an example of this to Common Ground News Service.

Voice 3 

“Three students, Ron, Sameera, and Fouad were creating a song without words. One of them played the dijeridoo, a long wooden instrument with a low, breathy sound. He led the three of them in a kind of Middle-Eastern song. The song had a dream-like sound. The main idea of the song was creation. While listening to each other, they began improvising. Each student invented new parts and added new pieces to the song. The song followed the human experience through three movements – creation, war, and peace. By doing this together, these three young adults removed every barrier between them.”

Voice 2 

Heartbeat musicians played their first public performance together on September 21, 2008. This day was the United Nation’s International Day of Peace. Israelis, Palestinians, and other international people living in Jerusalem attended the event. In total, over 300 people attended the performance.

Voice 1 

Since then, Heartbeat has continued its work. Each year new students gather together, create music, discuss peace and perform for the community. In February and March of 2013, a group of Heartbeat musicians even travelled to the United States. There, they shared their music and experiences.

Voice 2 

Guy Gefen is an Israeli Heartbeat musician. He travelled with the group that went to the United States. He told Religion and Ethics News Weekly that his time with the group has changed how he thinks.

Voice 5

“I have a lot of friends who keep telling me it is not possible. They do not believe we can achieve peace. I ask them, “How many Palestinians have you ever met? How many Palestinians have you talked to? How many Palestinians have you created something with? With Heartbeat I experience peace in real life... Peace is not only something that governments will sign on a paper and suddenly we will have peace. Peace can be created through people without any governments getting involved.”

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again and read it on the Internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Heartbeat: Music for Peace.”

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you ever meet with people you disagree with? What is something that can bring enemies together?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
abozenka
said on June 03, 2013

THIS IS VERY NICE…

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on June 03, 2013

Excellent music for peace
Thanks Spotlight

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on June 06, 2013

We wish to get peace. We build for peace. Beautiful good things exist and bring everyone beautiful good things. We love beautiful good things. When we live in difficult times we recognize good things’ preciousness. We make efforts for good things. We can do good things.

Avatar Spotlight
thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on June 11, 2013

Peace life is a desire of all people on the world.Heartbeat music band created it.
Wish “Heartbeat” will bring peace to many other place!
Have a nice day!

Avatar Spotlight
Jesscica
said on July 30, 2014

It’s great!

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nguyenthuy
said on February 02, 2015

all the human want peace world where we can live and enjoy our life . I wish the peace would be prevailing on around the world . And more and more heartbeat band will apprear and expand everywhere .