Tomaš Goričanec Elementary School from Mala Subotica is an example that music has once again linked people, and Nikola Švenda has proved that it sometimes takes one person only to realize a good idea. At the beginning of this school year, he launched a drum workshop in the framework of school activities and for Rromani children of senior classes. Initially, there were fifteen participants mostly boys, and at present six of them actively practise every day on different types of percussion instruments – from goblet drum, djembe, bong drum to davul. Under his leadership they prepared their second public performance which took place at the Scheier building in Čakovec on May 15.
Rhythm as a certain kind of pulse is the basis of any music, and in Rromani music that also varies from region to region there are many instruments for percussion players. After the first workshop I have already seen great talent and desire to play drums. Drums besides musical have therapeutic, developmental and relaxing benefits, and I believe they are a good instrument for those who are taking up music. Dialogue and the need for fellowship and mutual listening develop through drum circles. On our workshops and performances we create various Arabian, African, Rromani and Balkan rhythms. As a rule, we do not limit ourselves but play as we feel and what comes out of the unique field of rhythm within the circle. It is not an instrument that is important but the way a person plays it. We are not aiming for professionalism but to teach each other to respect, socialize, and listen to ourselves. If the players do not listen to each other, then the drum circle as such cannot function.
Švenda emphasizes that, besides learning how to play instruments, a pedagogical approach is crucial at their workshops because skill without elements of synergy is futile.
It is a form of communication that does not function through words and is therefore much more direct. Music has proved being art that has connected more people than any other art.
Although the workshop has been designed as a social gathering on a friendly base, Nikola Švenda, a professor of sociology and philosophy, emphasizes the importance of a quality program at school as well as the importance of Rroma children’s participation in cultural activities, which are often unavailable to them.
I gave them my instruments to play, and the head of the municipality supported the project. He was a teacher himself and understands the importance of extracurricular activities for children. Also, the basis for the Međimurje folklore is the music played on the cymbals brought to this region by a Rroma family so that the synergy between Međimurje and the Rroma has been existing for a long time, it is only necessary to renew it, especially in times when there are stories about segregation and anti-Rroma protests.
Švenda wishes to launch a Rromani folklore society that would act as a container of customs and culture, and he sees a lot of potential in these young Rromani musicians which might turn into a much larger project.
I’ve always been engaged in music, primarily, from passion and amazement, never institutionally or because I had to. That is why I believe that in music I have found freedom and the ability to share, and to meet different people, worlds and cultures. As a universal medium, music is like a vehicle by which we can endlessly travel and break down barriers. Therefore life dedicated to music is a life that is worth living.