Learning at BISYOC

The way that participants learn at BISYOC is not the same as it is in a formal institution like a music academy, school, conservatory, masterclass or summer course.

Instead, BISYOC creates a non-formal learning environment where you learn from the entire experience - and you learn from being with other participants from so many other countries, as well as learning from the tutors.

Playing music at BISYOC, you learn not only to improve your musical skills but you also learn many other skills at the same time. Some of these can transfer to other areas of your life outside music. The BISYOC experience can help you if you want to become a professional musician in future, and it can also help you if you are planning a different career outside of music. Around 44% of the 2017 participants were people who are thinking of a different career. Around 48% see themselves as future orchestral musicians or having some kind of career in music, and 7% were young musicians already working in music careers.

During BISYOC, we encourage all participants to talk to each other about what they are learning, and how they are learning. We would like to share with you some more information about what our participants have said in these discussions, and also what they said after BISYOC when they had gone home.

Here is a compilation of comments that individual participants and groups made half-way through BISYOC:

It is a nice mixture between making music, cultural activities and especially having smalltalk – during lunch for example. It’s good to be with people from different backgrounds and nations but also exchange with people from other regions of our own country as their lifestyle may be different. I am starting to improve my communication skills. I am more comfortable about starting conversations with people I don’t know.

It dawned over me in the tutti rehearsal, that even though we’re from 20 different cultures, and we all perceive music in different ways, it’s surprisingly easy to unite around our musical idea and create something together. As one of my expectations was to improve my musical skills, I would say that I am working harder to play better, be more prepared and focus during rehearsal. I expected to make friends quickly because in an exchange like this you all share a hobby and passion for music. I was right. It is amazing to meet people from so many different countries and I didn’t realise that I would learn so much about their cultures.

My musical skills are improving by so many people from different countries sharing their knowledge. I learned that the system of music/notes in differently spelled in Portugal than in Germany (do, re, mi compared to C, D, E). I’ve learned that the Maltese musicians rely on their Catholic culture, because they get to play for many in Catholic feasts for saints in summer. I’ve learned that Columbian students start their musical education in an orchestra and the most popular instruments there are trumpet and percussion. It is interesting to learn how music is taught differently in different countries, but at the same time it is a language everyone understands.

I am surprised how strongly people from Kenya want to learn western (classical) music. I’ve learned that in Kenya it is a big challenge to access music education. In addition to difficulties finding a teacher, many goods are imported, including instruments and accessories, so they are expensive. Because of that, my perception of the project in the UK is changing to reach those people. I share a room with someone from Iceland and he’s told me that if the ice is breaking, polar bears can be seen near the places where people live, because they come with the big ice blocks.

I am learning to be more happy and positive. The composition workshop has been very special for me, as I’d never previously had the opportunity to improve with such an eclectic group of classical musicians and instruments. Listening, sharing, and combining our ideas has been a great experience.

I am meeting many people from different countries and learning about their way of looking at things. It surprised me a lot to discover that although we are from different cultures, we have the same kind of problems with the religious backgrounds which we carry from the past. Before my conversations this year I didn’t really have in mind, that there are still some sorts of ex-colonies from European countries in other parts of the world and what cultural identity this fact creates. This is the first time I have met people from Colombia, Malta and Kenya.

I am surprised how easy it is to get in contact with other cultures. I’ve learned from my Macedonian friends that their country has a similar historical past to Spain. They were occupied by the Turkish for 5 centuries, so the people are a mixture of different cultures. We talked about meals in Norway and compared them to Portuguese ones. Apparently, they only eat warm food once a day, usually for dinner. In Portugal it’s usual for me to eat warm food twice a day (lunch and dinner). I also met many Germans and they eat dinner quite early compared to us in Portugal.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet incredible people here. That showed me that sometimes stereotypes are just totally wrong, and actually we share different points of view, which is pretty cool. I’ve learned that in Norway they have more freedom in school and learn independently, and we discussed if this is good or not. I honestly didn’t think much about Malta before BISYOC, so I am basically forming an opinion of the country from participating here. I love the Spanish energy and that they are always very cool and friendly to me. Even though I don’t speak their language they have taught me some words; that was lots of fun.

At the end of BISYOC, and with a follow-up a few months afterwards, we asked people to comment about what they had learned from taking part. This is a way of measuring some of the impact that BISYOC has on participants.

There are some statistics about the learning outcomes in these three surveys:

Part A: Improvements Made in Musical Skills
Part B: Improvements Made in Transferable Skills
Part C: Improvements in Cultural Understanding and Self-Reflection

Here is a compilation of some of the written comments that individual participants made:

BISYOC influenced us as musicians – it’s all about team work. We got better in playing together and communicating with each other, while making music. We started to understand how important it is to watch each other and think about who has the leading role. We learned different languages, and our English improved especially!

I learned that I need to be more assertive and communicate in a clear way what I want

BISYOC helped me to reinforce my previously existing conception that it is easy to misjudge people without knowing them

BISYOC helped me to be more open to strangers

The first time I attended a Tai Chi class was at BISYOC. One of its principles is stability, which is extremely important in playing

What I learnt about myself is that I like socialising with new people and sharing ways of thinking

There were new countries involved in BISYOC 2017, so I was glad I had the chance to meet and get to know people from Kenya, for example. Every new nationality I got in contact with gave me a better way of perceiving the world. As a result, my confidence in communicating with foreigners developed considerably

Now, the possibility of studying in other countries is easier for me, and no longer terrifying

When I went to BISYOC I figured it out that music makes us have a lot of similarities

I learned that I want to get better at discussing certain facts and being critical about my own and other people’s views

Our food, dances and some traditions are really similar but very often our lifestyle, behaviour and everyday culture is very different. Those differences are sometimes strange for others. It works both ways

I learned that sometimes I’m a little bit too stubborn but I’m trying to be not carried away by my emotions. Being with many different cultures helps

I have seen how beautiful it is to share time, knowledge and skills with people from all over Europe

I learned that I am able to fit in every situation and willing to accept change of plans that I did not think at first

Before BISYOC I didn't want to study music professionally but now I am thinking about it

Now it feels normal sitting next to a person from another culture

BISYOC made me more sociable, open minded and gave me more confidence to communicate

I want to become a professional musician, meeting other like-minded people has helped me a lot

I learned that it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and get to know yourself more

I learned to be open-minded, tolerant and patient

One of the biggest things I learnt was how to be as thorough as I can in my capacity as a teacher of music. It's not enough to show people what they need to do, I must live it. We must lead by example and hopefully inspire others to ask that much more of themselves

From a musical perspective was very refreshing to be at BISYOC and a way to ‘re-think’ the art, as when you’re working you tend to forget some aspects. From being partly in the event crew also has made me think about logistics in other everyday activities - planning ahead