For some years now there’s been a steady increase in the number of children in Duisburg-Marxloh from newly arrived immigrant families who can speak no German when they start school. Music and dance can be of great value in helping these children to integrate into the German school system.
Most of the children who take part in the education project of the Ruhr Piano Festival in Duisburg-Marxloh have an immigrant background. Anyone stopping for a few minutes alongside the playground of the primary school on Henriettenstrasse can see the resulting cultural diversity for themselves. Children of different origins and diverse mother tongues learn and play here together. On account of the high influx of new immigrants who have been arriving in Marxloh in increasing numbers over recent years, you now come across more and more children who have little or no understanding of German on starting school. This development poses whole new challenges for the school as an institution and alters the whole approach to cultural education.
The integrative work of the Ruhr Piano Festival at the primary school Henriettenstrasse | © 2016
The transformation of the school student body is taking place particularly rapidly at the primary school on the Henriettenstrasse: Around two-thirds of the children are newly arrived immigrants – in the first two intake years over 75 percent. In order to encourage these children in particular, the Ruhr Piano Festival launched a pilot project in collaboration with the school in the autumn of 2015. The goal is to help the newly arrived school children to develop communication skills through music and dance and at the same time to help them feel at home in the German school system.
Dance and music teachers come to the school two mornings a week. In one-hour workshops they work out dances and choreographies with the children as well as singing, introducing solfa and helping them to compose their own pieces of music. The highpoint of this continual, steady work was a public performance at the end of the school year as part of the Ruhr Piano Festival.
In the school year 2019/20 around 200 children from all eight classes at the Primary School Henriettenstrasse took part in this pilot project.
Music education can only be lastingly effective if it has long-term goals and reaches beyond school boundaries. That is why the Ruhr Piano Festival helps the schools involved to heighten their cultural profile and supports children during the transition from primary to secondary school.
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