From its first inceptions, music has been a collective action - an activity for drumming, dancing, singing and playing. It brings joy, strengthens communities and aids healing. Though the merits of performance and music education are numerous, at the end of the day, music simply brings us together. This is the drive behind the No Boundaries project.
Founded in 1998 with the idea of bringing music education and live performance to Mozambique, No Boundaries brings American-based music professors and high-level performers to developing countries. In the midst of a cultural exchange with local artists and students, the pedagogical team is engaged in giving support in music education while connecting with international established music scenes and markets. In 2007 Berklee faculty member Winnie Dahlgren and Mozambique artist Stewart Sukuma completed the first project for No Boundaries with a trip to Mozambique. The project included concerts, workshops, clinics, master classes, and auditions for Berklee College of Music.
This year No Boundaries is aiming to bring a team of three students and six faculty members to the Cape Town Jazz Festival in South Africa. While we're there, we will perform, teach, and play with students of all ages and learn from local artists. Our goal is to nurture cultural exchange and, in doing so, build new relationships and foundations for growth. The reality of life for many in South Africa is one without accessibility to music education. No Boundaries is invested in bringing a forum for exploration and learning to the community at no cost and to provide an outlet for creativity and craft.
Outside of our goals and excitement in regards to working with the community, there is also a huge benefit to the Berklee students. They will be able to learn an entirely new way of experiencing and sharing music.
In their own words:
Maria: In my life as a student, the most important opportunity that No Boundaries allows is a reminder of the greater world. It's easy to get lost in schoolwork, jobs, concerns about success, and anything else that comes along when we live in a campus-centric world. However, this also means it is easy for us to forget about the education of others; supporting global community and the reason many of us are musicians: to share music. I feel that music education is one of the cornerstones for a successful childhood for many. I am grateful that No Boundaries is providing that education and, furthermore, I feel privileged to be able to be a part of that mission.
I think that in our age of internet accessibility we've begun to ignore the necessity of experiencing new places. We miss a fascinating and eye-opening type of education. I've always found that the times in my life where I grew exponentially or was somehow fundamentally changed were always when I found myself in another country, surrounded by another culture, and learning the beauty and intricacies of a different way of life. This idea is equally important to New Boundaries and I can't wait to see what my peers and I will learn and how we'll grow in South Africa.
Emily: Music to me has always come from many places, many pools of inspiration and, lastly, is tinted with the ability to maintain an open mind and heart. A program and idea like No Boundaries allows me to be who I am in an environment where it is not frowned upon, but rather, celebrated. Very often people attempt to place me in a box when it comes to music. What genre? Where do you come from? Who are you trying to be? No Boundaries explores all of the possibilities and the rich music of this earth. It asks no questions, but respects each culture and allows for them to mix, respectfully, which opens up doors to endless possibilities.
As a student and aspiring musician, having an opportunity like No Boundaries gives me hope that my generation will have access to not only watch and listen to all of the music of the world, but GO to the places that they originate; to teach the youth and, in turn, learn from the country. More specifically, hear all of the different sounds of specific places. I have observed that many musicians and people tend to simplify the "sound" of a place as a whole and not pay attention to the differences and details of its many areas. No Boundaries shatters this stigma and implements a new one that will change the world.
Long term, I see this project soaring to new heights and inspiring so many young and old musicians to learn about all of the beautiful sounds and people the world has to offer. I am so excited for the next steps and hope that others see the light of this project and the person behind its birth, Winnie Dahlgren.
Tash: Bringing No Boundaries to South Africa is a really amazing experience that I am so excited to get to be a part of. As a student at Berklee, I feel that it is so important to be presented with and to take opportunities to not only share our music and experience with the world, but to gain a cultural understanding by working first hand with people around the world. Bringing what we know as Berklee musicians to South Africa is a great way to expand our reach, as well as to help fertilize musical communities and connections across seas. Making music accessible to all people is something that is so important in our world and I am ecstatic to get a chance to do this.
As a Music Business student, I am looking forward to being able to share the knowledge that I have about the industry in the United States, and also to learn a lot about the industry in South Africa. As a Performance major, I am also excited to get a musical cultural exchange and to be able to make valuable connections that I hope will help expand my career as a musician. I want to be able to make musical communities around the world much bigger and richer, and the No Boundaries project is a great way to do this.