Given all that has happened in Israel over the past 60 years, it almost goes without saying that many of our young people will either be aware of the present conflict or have been personally affected by the violence and terrorism levied against members of various diasporic communities.
Something which I often mention in training sessions is how music can help young people understand themselves and the world around them. Even though this approach was all but ignored in the recent Model Music curriculum, music can be used as a vehicle for social justice and increased global awareness, if we as educators are able to help contextualise current events through the power of music. This requires us (at the very least) to know where to look for reliable and up-to-date music and resources which speak on specific issues, and those who create such resources to do so in a timely and sensitive manner.
Lowkey is one of my favorite UK rappers, but not only because of his flow and lyricism exemplified in this unreal video called Alphabet Assassin. He articulates his views with songs such as 'Long Live Palestine' and 'Terrorist?' which (in my opinion) are incredible examples of how political messages can be presented in a coherent, artistic and insightful way.
It is also a reminder for us in the UK, to not always rely on North America for musical inspiration when it comes to music and social justice. In some cases, the perspectives of those who have lived or grown up in the UK can be more valuable to certain young people, who may recognise and identify with British cultural references quicker than North American ones. The hope is that when young people see and hear musicians such as Lowkey, they will feel empowered to express their views through music. Whether or not they feel comfortable approaching their music teacher(s), safe in the knowledge that their identities and views need not be separate to various acts of classroom musicking is another story. To what extent can music classrooms be a place where real world trauma, frustrations, and confusion can be released, explored and understood? Do we know where to go for support to help us to tackle these important issues?
On a personal note, Lowkey's messages and music influenced me to write this short tune called 'Hymn For The Voiceless'.