Music student bootcamp The Music/ian is Present was held on 12-16 September 2022 in Novi Sad in framework of the one-week event of the same name, as a platform for internal quality culture in students in cooperation with the Royal Conservatoire the Hague (P4) and project Quality Assurance Group members. Twenty students from Belgrade, Novi Sad and Kragujevac (P1-P3) explored the meaning of quality through workshops, exercises, discussion and evaluation sessions and applied quality assurance measures in their group projects focused on communication with socially vulnerable groups.
The students of the modernized study programs in music performance, composition, musicology, music production, and the new MA study program Applied Research in Music (PRIMA) were chosen based on the open call for participation in the event, published at the national partner institutions websites, namely: the Faculty of Music University of Arts in Belgrade (P1), Academy of Arts University of Novi Sad (P2) and the Faculty of Philology and Arts University of Kragujevac (P3).
On the first day of the bootcamp, small teams were formed consisted of students of mixed backgrounds from all three music academies, grouped around chosen “playgrounds” – specific places, audiences and contexts out of the usual venues for music performance. During four days, each of the four groups created and implemented one small-scale music project directed to establishing a dialogue with the society by communication with specific audience(s) and creating something meaningful for them through music. The concept of the project, music program, short- and long-term objectives, were therefore developed closely following the inspiration resulting from the interaction at the playgrounds. Each group was expertly coached by a teacher from the Royal Conservatoire the Hague, who in turned had an opportunity to test the concept of the student bootcamp outside of their own institution and in the international context.
As the underlying idea behind “The Music/ian is Present” bootcamp was development of the internal quality culture in music students in Serbia, the whole process of creation, development, performance, presentation and evaluation served therefore, as a specific polygon for the exploration of the idea of quality assurance and testing its standards and measures in practice in the context of socially participatory student projects. For the first time students were encountered with the idea of quality assurance as something to considerate and apply in their individual work. This special, QA strand of the bootcamp program included an introductory lecture with a workshop given with Martin Prchal, vice-principal of the Royal Conservatoire, member of the project Quality Assurance Group and senior advisor in MusiQuE – Music Quality Enhancement, the international agency for evaluation and accreditation in the field of music. With him, students explored issues around quality culture, from the meaning of the word to the meaning it could have in their work. Quality in higher music education, combining artistic and educational quality standards, as also discussed as well ways and possibilities it can be incorporated in what they do at their institutions. Many of these points on quality culture students then further pursued and applied in their bootcamp group projects, by following quality assurance standards in artistry and artistic vision, activity design, organization and execution, and reflecting upon them in the development process. Given the overall objective of The Music/ian is Present event and DEMUSIS project in enhancing the dialogue between academic musicians and society, students’ personal standards in what high quality community music activity would look like, such as aspects which would qualify a certain community music activity as of a good quality, were particularly considered.
The last day of the bootcamp was completely dedicated to evaluation of the project development process and the whole experience of the bootcamp, in closed internal evaluation sessions within the groups, with coaches, among coaches and in mixed peer groups separately. The final evaluation session took place on Friday 16 September in the Multimedia Hall of the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, in front of representatives of the project consortium, host institution, colleagues and the project external evaluator. In it, the students reflected on the whole experience and process with its various aspects, such as collaboration within the group and with coaches, feedback from the playgrounds, musical/artistic and meaningful quality, along with the knowledge, skills, experience and values gained. The session included first public video presentations of student projects, available in the following playlist.
Student projects were additionally publicly presented to the wider audience, in presence and online through live video streaming, at the Public Debate The Music/ian is Present held on 17 September in Cultural centre “Svilara” in cooperation with the Novi Sad – EU Capital of Culture. Students from the bootcamp actively participated in the Debate and shared some of their most valuable insights. The live recording of the event is available on DEMUSIS Erasmus YouTube channel.
Short videos of student projects created in the bootcamp The Music/ian is Present:
- “Sheltered by Music”, done in the Shelter for street children in Novi Sad
- “Musical Collage of Memories”, done in the Gerontology Center in Novi Sad
- “Music is a Universal Language”, done at the Faculty of Philosophy
- “Kids meet instruments”, done in a kindergarten “Zlatna ribica”