Net Even Anders: students graduating from Music in Education are celebrating diversity
Just like every year, the fourth-year students of the full-time Music in Education bachelor course in Enschede are producing a graduation show. This year the performance is slightly different. Literally. Net Even Anders (Just a Little Different) is a performance for the lower years of secondary school. It is about being connected, and yet being yourself. About how different, yet equal people are.
In the trailer of the show, the first move is made: ‘I’m tall’, ‘I have an accent’, ‘I’m gay’, ‘I’ve had lower secondary professional education’. These are the words of students from all years of the Music in Education course. In the graduation show of class four, all forty students are on stage together. ‘There are not too many of us in the fourth year, and we’re all very different. There is no such thing as your average, typical student, but if there were, it certainly wouldn’t be us,’ say Emma Wissink and Renée Vunderink: ‘We all felt the need to do something with that, and for once not to make the ‘standard’ school play: the one with a happy ending, with the romances - that soap opera kind of thing.’
Labels en prejudice
The result is a musical production in which the performers show a lot of themselves. Emma: ‘The audience doesn’t know what is real and what is enacted. But many events in the show do come from fellow students’ own experiences.’ Renée: ‘I have autism, and I say that out loud in the performance: ‘I’m autistic.’ In this way I show that there are also people with autism who can become a music teacher. I’m challenging people being pigeonholed based on their label.'
Not only the performance itself, but also the road leading up to it demanded a certain openness from the students. Emma: ‘At some point it became natural for us to show our vulnerability. Rehearsing this topic works both ways: as we wanted to address this theme with our class, we created this safe atmosphere ourselves. This made us more and more open to each other and we were able to discuss more and more things. The beauty of diversity as a theme is that it not only plays a part in the performance itself, but also in the process of making the production. Everyone is different, everyone sees things differently. How can we learn from our differences in approach?’
The beauty of diversity as a theme is that it not only plays a part in the performance itself, but also in the process of making the production.
Being critical of each other
Renée: ‘It did help that we already had a strong bond. As you go through the course with such a small class for four years, you become very close to each other. Creating a product together makes that bond even closer. Particularly because of all the different opinions.’ Because if you want to make a good show, you have to be critical. Even of each other. Renée outlines an example: ‘We have three students majoring in vocals. For a solo, we want to have the most suitable one. So we have to judge each other. Then you should also be able to say: ‘Well, you’d better not take this one.’ Our deadline forced us: when time’s running out, you have to be increasingly straight and clear to each other.’
There certainly was a time pressure for the students. Because the smaller the class, the more tasks are on everyone’s plate. Renée: ‘We all contribute to the story, and have our own tasks to boot. For example, I’m responsible for finance and planning. Everyone has their own priorities, but these sometimes have to be sacrificed for the common goal. That’s very instructive.’ Not only do the students have multiple roles in the organisation, but they are also seriously multitasking during the performance. Renée: ‘Everyone is running around on stage. One moment you’re on stage, the next in the choir, and yet another moment you’re playing.’ Fortunately, the graduating students are assisted by their fellow students from other years. Emma: ‘We were keen to involve them in the process. We also needed their input to complete the picture. But how do you make them instantly feel involved? How do you mobilise such a large group? These are things I learned during the course: how you can formulate your message differently, so that you do get something done. That educational part is also very helpful when making a production like this.’
These are things I learned during the course: how you can formulate your message differently, so that you do get something done.
Careers in education
One thing is clear: education has stolen Renée’s and Emma’s hearts. Unexpectedly, because both started their studies primarily for the music. After graduating Renée wants to work in primary education as soon as possible and develop her own music teaching method in the longer term. Emma wants to continue her studies in the field of educational sciences and aspires a management position: ‘But I want to continue teaching at the same time, even if for just one day a week.’
On 21 June, Net Even Anders will be livestreamed and recorded for secondary schools. The performance is accompanied by an educational package containing a lesson plan, four musical arrangements and reflection forms.