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Practice insights

“Music is our common language”

Insights into a South African-German choir and orchestra encounter


During a weltwärts exchange, young musicians from Germany and South Africa merge their musical traditions. They not only experience cultural diversity, but also make a practical contribution to its preservation.

MASIqMANE – stay in touch – a weltwärts exchange

From February 25 to March 16, 2020 – shortly before Corona restrictions would have made it impossible – 21 members of the Junge Kammerphilharmonie Rhein-Neckar from the Heidelberg area traveled to Ratanda in South Africa for a youth exchange with members of the Lesedi Show Choir. The musical encounter entitled “MASIqMANE – stay in touch” focused on the discussion of the 4th UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) “Quality Education” and in particular its sub-goal 4.7, which postulates, among other things, that “all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including  [...] through [...] appreciation of cultural diversity.”

During the three-week encounter, the young people deal intensively with the locally rooted songs and the different ways of passing them on from generation to generation. They arrange and learn both European and African folk songs and perform them together on stage. In doing so, they write down South African folk songs that were previously only passed down orally, thus making an exemplary contribution to the preservation of cultural diversity. The pieces and arrangements, which have been written down for the first time in the project, are to be made accessible to a worldwide public and used for further performances.

Already during the encounter, numerous joint and often acclaimed performances take place at various locations in South Africa. While traveling and making music together, the young people not only learn about the musical traditions in the respective partner country, but also get to know and appreciate each other intensively. The common language of music helps them to communicate and understand each other – also on an interpersonal level.

“We have all become friends.”

Emily Schlüchtermann, participant


This funding line weltwärts Begegnungen and the follow-up program Teams up! of the African-German Youth Office is accompanied by BKJ through the team of global


BKJ: “Music is our common language”
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    The German Federation for Arts Education and Cultural Learning (BKJ) is the umbrella organisation for cultural education in Germany.