Five local musicians from Rocksteady Music School in Godalming volunteered at the Routes Festival in Brussels on Saturday 16th September 2017, running free workshops for local refugee children. The festival is organised by Singa Belgium and Refugee Aid Serbia to bring together local communities and refugees through workshops, discussions and performances. Offering a chance for interaction and a day of recreation for refugees who have often endured a perilous journey to reach Belgium.
The Routes series of festivals takes place each year in various locations across Europe. For 2017 it began in Polykastro in Macedonia on 12th August and visited Belgrade, Vienna, Berlin and Paris before the final date in Brussels. Entry to the festival was completely free and featured live music, food, workshops, discussions and performances.
The Rocksteady team performed a couple of songs for everyone at the festival and then ran a series of workshops involving children from the local area and refugee children, who took to the stage for the first time and within 15 minutes were playing in a band at a music festival, performing songs such as ‘Can’t stop the feeling’ and ‘Summer of 69’. Even though many of the refugee children could not speak French, the team managed to teach over 20 children on the day to play either keyboards, drums, electric guitar or vocals, through basic counting 1,2,3,4 in French.
Mark Robinson, Founder of Rocksteady Music School explains why the company chose to volunteer at the festival. “Going to help at events like this is a core part of what Rocksteady is about. Routes festival aims to help refugees integrate with their new communities and playing in bands is a great way to start building those bonds. We can give them the experience of playing music together, having fun and making people happy, which makes a real difference to children of all ages and backgrounds.”
Rocksteady musicians attending the festival were: Mark Robinson, Founder (Guitar) and Stuart (Drums), Adam (Keyboards), Jamie (Rhythm Guitar & Vocals), Rachel, (Rhythm Guitar & Vocals).