The MUS-E initiative was created by Yehudi Menuhin in 1993, together with Werner Schmitt, IYMF Vice-President, and Marianne Poncelet, IYMF Executive Vice-President. It is based on a concept of music education developed by the Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist and teacher Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967). Kodaly believed that music should be part and parcel of daily education and accessible to all. Yehudi Menuhin broadened the concept to include 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 disadvantaged backgrounds.
MUS-E brings art to schools!
In its present form, MUS-E is targeted at primary schools, mainly in Europe, which 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 classroom teachers, professional artists actively engaged in MUS-E introduce and share various forms of art (singing, dance, music, movement, drama, visual and multimedia arts, …). Thanks to this collective work, the MUS-E programme encourages dialogue and togetherness, while awakening children’s sense of creativity, empathy and resilience.
Three fields of activity are interconnected in the MUS-E programme.
Art is all too often given minimum attention in the school curriculum, but is is a powerful tool to awaken and stimulate children’s curiosity for learning. The MUS-E programme is a meaningful, effective and unique addition to existing music and art classes offered by schools..
MUS-E’s artistic approach to school education helps children to enjoy school as a place ot learn and socialize. It also helps teachers to discover an additional teaching strategy focused on every child’s needs, abilities, level of development and cultural background. MUS-E activities are based on the premise that children have their own way of processing knowledge and culture, so that if schools are able to leverage this, they become key social agents. The partnership between teachers and visiting artists enables the teacher’s function of heloping children in their quest for knowledge. Moreover, teachers can use the MUS-E experience and practice to support teaching other subjects on the school curriculum.
The schools benefiting from the MUS-E programme are mainly located in lower income districts with few cultural stimuli and/or high concentration of diverse backgrounds. By triggering children’s creativity, their capacity for resilience to adverse social circumstances is strenghtened. MUS-E optimizes the creative resources of the children and families, and the wealth of their cultural diversity.
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 IMC comprises national MUS-E coordinators and Foundation staff who guide the evolution of the programme, developing common areas for collaboration, from training of artists to art education research. The IMC builds on 25 years of experience.