BIMM University Berlin Alumni host workshop for Straßenkinder e.V.

1 July, 2022

Last year BIMM University Berlin was delighted to start a collaboration with Straßenkinder e.V., an organisation that works to support homeless children and reintegrate them into society. To prevent educational poverty, they also offer opportunities at the Kinder- und Jugendhaus BOLLE, this is where our alumni hosted a unique workshop with financial support provided by Lions Club Berlin-Alexanderplatz.

The workshop focused on teaching the children how to create Hip-Hop music was run by two of our alumni, Alexandrine Joseph and Ngoc Anh Nguyen. We spoke with singer-songwriter, producer and social worker Ngoc Anh about the workshop and why it is necessary for kids to have early access to creative tools and music.

Can you tell us a little bit about the workshop itself and what it was like?

The workshop took place on two days, each about 4 hours. There were around 13 participants, roughly from age 10-17 as well as some leaders from the youth centre for support.

We started off by making sure to create a safe and supportive environment before we gave them a brief history of Hip Hop, followed by a listening session. We introduced them to different writing styles and techniques, discussed what topics they could write about and then divided them into different groups. Each group was handed recording equipment and they got to choose a beat to write their own text and record their vocals on. In between, we did a few playful exercises to get them into freestyling and at the end of the workshop, we all came together to listen to what the groups created.

Alexandrine and Ngoc Anh giving a workshop

What inspired you to conduct this workshop?

I was contacted by BIMM University Berlin because of my background as a social worker. I previously got to give another songwriting workshop and found it was such a rewarding experience to share my knowledge. Doing this workshop felt like a great way to combine my music knowledge with my social work skills.

How did you create the concept for the workshop?

We thought, ‘What are the basics we would like the kids to know about Hip Hop and what would we like for them to come out with after the two days of the workshop?’ We knew that we wanted to let them record music and take advantage of the youth centre’s brand-new own basement studio that they still hadn’t got to make use of yet.

From there we created smaller blocks and dissected what we thought we’d like the kids to learn so that they would eventually create their own raps and record them. Initially, we also intended to let them film their own DIY music videos but during the workshop, we chose to dive deeper into recording, so we’ll keep the music video concept for another time!

Workshop attendee recording vocals

What did you enjoy most about doing the workshop?

It was a great experience to be able to plan and conduct a workshop with great resources and external support. This is not always the case when you’re in the social work field. There might be great project ideas but not enough equipment, budget or time to execute them in such depth. BIMM providing gear, the youth centre having built their own in-house studio and Lions Club financially supporting the project really gave us the freedom to create a fun workshop with lots of opportunities! I also loved working with Alexandrine because we both really complimented each other in our skills.

“We were really happy with the communication, support and supply of music equipment by BIMM University Berlin and we believe we met the goals that we had set out to achieve. We were able to give the teenagers and young people of our house two unforgettable days of learning about media-specific skills.”

Karlsson Olberg from Jugendhaus BOLLE

Are you planning to do more projects in collaboration with Straßenkinder e.V.? If so, what will the following workshops look like?

Yes, we want to continue our collaboration with the youth centre, Lions Club and BIMM. The next workshops shall dive deeper into the recording process and songwriting in general. We want every session to really go in-depth, and we would love to run longer workshops. We still hope to be able to shoot music videos with them too!

Workshop attendees recording vocals

Why do you think it is important for kids to have access to creative workshops like this and have access to the tools that help them create their own music?

There are many reasons why it’s important. First, they get to learn how to express themselves in a creative, maybe even fictional way – most of the participants were teenagers and there’s always a lot going on in this phase of life.

Second, it’s important to give them a casual but safe space where their voices are heard, and they are free to explore with no judgement. For kids, especially from underprivileged families, it can be a great opportunity to be introduced to technology and equipment they would normally not have access to.

Lastly, a creative workshop run by musicians/artists can introduce kids to the possibilities of pursuing a path in the creative industries.

Workshop attendees producing

What was the feedback from the kids that took part in the workshop like?

To be honest, many of the teenagers didn’t give us much verbal feedback (possibly because of the puberty group dynamics!). But we could see that they were so excited about creating their own tracks and hearing their voices recorded for the first time. Some of them proudly sang their hooks to other visitors to the youth centre and some might have been very surprised about what they were able to create within the two days.

The BOLLE youth centre is an open place where the kids can decide freely whether or not they want to attend, so the fact that all participants stayed from start to finish showed us that they were engaged and interested.

Since the first workshop, Alexandrine and Ngoc Anh have hosted another workshop in collaboration with Straßenkinder e.V. supported by Lions Club Berliner-Alexanderplatz and we are very excited to continue to work together in the future!

Want to find out more about Alexandrine and Ngoc Anh and check out their music? Listen to it here!

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