MUS-E®: the Arts at School

“The art of creation lies in the gift of perceiving the particular and generalising it, thus creating the particular again. It is therefore a powerful transforming force and a generator of creative solutions in relation to a given problem. It is the currency of human exchanges, which enables the sharing of states of the soul and conscience, and the discovery of new fields of experience”

Yehudi Menuhin

HISTORY

The MUS-E initiative was created by Yehudi Menuhin in 1993, together with Werner Schmitt, IYMF Board member, and Marianne Poncelet, IYMF Vice-President. It is based on a concept on music education developed by Zoltán Kodály (1882 – 1967), a Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist and teacher. Kodály believed that music should be part and parcel of daily education and be accessible to all. Yehudi Menuhin broadened Kodály’s concept to incorporate all creative arts spanning all cultures. Since 1993, MUS-E Associations in various countries have built up a wealth of experience in implementing the use of creative arts in traditional primary school curriculums, working particularly with children from difficult backgrounds.

Mission

MUS-E brings the art at school!

In its present form MUS-E is targeted at elementary schools, primarily in Europe, that are facing the challenge of educating a growing multicultural group of children, many of whom come from migrant or disadvantaged families and are at risk of social exclusion or other societal problems. In the presence of the classroom teachers, professional artists associated with MUS-E actively introduce and share various forms of art (music, singing, plastic arts and performing arts) with the children in the class, bringing the children and teachers closer together via collective creation of art. This in turn helps to break down cultural stereotypes and develop capacities for tolerance, while awakening a child’s sense of creativity, empathy and resilience.

Therefore, MUS-E  links three different areas of activity:

Artistic

Art is too often given minimum attention in school curriculum, but it is a powerful tool to awaken and stimulate children’s curiosity for learning. By triggering children’s creativity, their capacity for resilience towards adverse circumstances is strengthened. The MUS-E® methodology is not aimed at replacing existing music and art classes offered by schools. Instead, MUS-E® artists have the possibility to use their approach to art in an objective manner, without making any judgements on good versus bad.

Social

The schools are located in lower income districts with a high concentration of diverse cultures that are prone to social tension. Children will likely have no or limited access to artistic education. MUS-E® contributes to triggering and optimising the creative resources of children and the wealth of their cultural diversity

Pedagogical

MUS-E® artistic approach towards school education triggers children to enjoy school as a place to learn and socialise and helps teachers to discover an alternative approach to schooling. The teacher-visiting artist partnership enables the teacher to be seen as helping children on their quest for knowledge, not as the sole gatekeeper of knowledge. Moreover, teachers can use MUS-E® experience to underpin the teaching of other subjects in the school curriculum.

The International MUS-E Council

The International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation is responsible for the international coordination of MUS-E®. This includes promoting and sharing best practices and common tools, plus facilitating international exchange between participating schools and artists. Set up in 2000, the Council comprises national MUS-E® coordinators and Foundation staff who guide the evolution of the programme, developing common areas of collaboration, from training of artists to art education research.