null G SongLab: Hearing the world through young ears
G SongLab: Hearing the world through young ears
The workshops operated initially in the Helsinki area, before growing throughout Finland to reach hundreds of participants. Based on the idea of co-writing and collaborative artistic work, the workshops aimed to support young songwriters’ authorship, musical learning, networking and social integration in a rapidly diversifying Finnish society. Working in a digital learning environment in the studios of youth centres made it possible for young people with versatile musical and social backgrounds to connect and work together.
Songwriting was seen as a means for expressing one’s feelings and insights about important issues, but also as a way of supporting young people’s citizenship through making their musical projects public, and thus being heard by society. Indeed, in addition to running the workshops, the initiative produced a number of music videos and author profiles of young songwriters that participated in the project over the years.
Recent studies – such as the ArtsEqual research initiative – show that in Finland, leisure time activities do not benefit all young people equally. In music for example, less than 5% of children and adolescents participate in the national Basic Education in the Arts system. In particular, young people living in districts with lower socio-economic status and/or those with a multi-cultural background are typically absent in out-of-school Art programs. Such findings signal that we need new social innovations to create more opportunities for art based activities: accessible for all young people regardless of their social or cultural background. Consequently, in 2018 the SongLab initiative was built on the idea of cross-structural institutional collaboration for promoting young people’s musical learning and independent making of art.
By offering open-access and free-of-charge songwriting workshops, SongLab works together with extra-curricular music schools and youth centres, in order to create collaboration and learning networks between young people making music in various musical and social spaces, professionals working in music and youth education, and institutions in music education and youth services.
Musical learning and social integration
In Genelec, SongLab has found a partner that shares its interests in creating new opportunities and environments for musical learning, social integration and wellbeing through joint artistic work. The arts operates as a means for creativity, self-expression and for having one’s voice heard in society, but there is even more to it than that.
For example, in his book Our Kids, Harvard professor Robert D Putnam writes about the constantly growing opportunity gap between children and adolescents, and its sad impact on both their future lives and society in general. At the same time, studies into children’s leisure time activities have pointed out that participation in the arts supports a child’s abilities to exercise their capabilities, whatever they are, later in their lives. So, offering more opportunities for art based activities may have far-reaching consequences on young people’s well-being.
Adapting to COVID-19
When the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic closed down all live out-of-school activities, including SongLab workshops, we started to experiment with online-workshops. It was only a few weeks later that together with Genelec we launched a series of international G SongLab webinars focusing on songwriting and the basics of recording and producing, that so far have reached young songwriters from 13 different countries. This would not have been possible without Genelec’s enthusiasm, expertise, social networks and platforms. It goes without saying that we are extremely excited about our collaboration, and the future possibilities for G SongLab.
If you, or someone you know, are aged between 13 and 29, click here to find out more about participating in our free G SongLab workshops.
Anna Kuoppamäki (DMus) is a music educator, singer-songwriter and music education researcher. With her band Wilma she released albums with major labels such as EMI and BMG in Finland, before working as a music educator and scholar, participating in the ArtsEqual research initiative coordinated by the University of the Arts Helsinki, to name but one. She is also an experienced workshop leader and teacher-in-service trainer, and has given courses on creative and interactive teaching methods widely across Finland. She has also published pedagogical materials for music education.
Petter Korkman (PhD) is an educator, songwriter and music producer with a background in philosophy. Petter is currently employed as a project leader and coordinator at TIUKU Public Information Cultural Factory, and many of his projects bring together scholars and research professionals with artists and civic organizations. Working primarily with audiovisual and music-related forms of expression, Petter is persuaded that active participation in the cultural dialogue of all citizens, whatever their age, background or situation, is the key to a healthy democracy.