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I Speak Music London launch events

Friday 22, 29 January and 5 February 2021

2:00pm - 4:00pm (followed by social time from 4pm)

Online via Zoom

Having postponed the I Speak Music London launch earlier in 2020 we are delighted to re-invite you to join us in the new year! We have re-planned the events as three online sessions, each with a different focus so you can select which are most relevant to you. 


What is I Speak Music?

I Speak Music is a programme using music to promote learning, empathy and cultural tolerance between people newly arrived in the UK and local communities. I Speak Music is run by Surrey Arts and combines three core strands:

  1. A youth songwriting project exclusively for unaccompanied minors
  2. An inclusive community orchestra for adults of refugee and non-refugee backgrounds
  3. Training and networking opportunities


What are the London launch events all about? 

I Speak Music has had a huge impact in Surrey, so we’d like to share ideas and learning with friends and partners in London. Sound Connections is hosting the London launch event series to bring together people working with, or interested in working with, refugees, asylum seekers and people displaced from their countries of birth. 


The sessions will create an open and empathetic space in which to learn, reflect and connect. 


The series will feature:

  • A keynote from the inspirational Laura Hassler, Founder and Director of Musicians Without Borders
  • Films and performances from I Speak Music musicians
  • Provocations and discussions
  • Presentations and workshops from people working with refugees and asylum seekers in a broad range of contexts from police and teachers to London-based music projects


The events aim to:

  • increase knowledge of how music and the arts can support the personal and social needs of groups who have been displaced from their country of birth and help them settle into life in the UK;
  • increase knowledge of how music and the arts can promote cultural tolerance between people;
  • broker new contacts and partnership opportunities;
  • identify needs and gaps in provision;
  • build greater understanding of how a multi agency approach can better support people newly arrived in the UK.


What are the three sessions and how can I sign up? 

Session 1 – Displacement and empathy
Friday 22 January 2021, 2.00-4.00pm GMT

In session 1 we will set the scene by looking at how people are being affected by displacement globally, consider the role of music, and tune into the power of empathy. Laura Hassler will present a keynote based on her inspiring career as founder of Musicians Without Borders, and facilitator Darren Abrahams will guide us through a series of reflective questions and breakout discussions.

The purpose of this session is to learn about the global context and feel inspired to act, so it is relevant to anyone interested. You might be a musician with a refugee background; a music or arts practitioner or professional; or work with other relevant agencies (such as police, social workers, health workers, charities, refugee support organisations, foster carers, Children’s Services etc). 

2pm Welcome and introduction to I Speak Music
2.15pm Keynote with Laura Hassler
2.45pm Facilitated self-reflective activity
3pm Screening of ‘Walk With Me – Imagine: Imagine’, a film from Together Productions
3.05pm Break
3.15pm Group discussions
3.50pm Wrap up

Facilitated by Darren Abrahams – singer, coach, trauma therapist and trainer
Featuring Laura Hassler – Founder and Director of Musicians Without Borders


Session 2 – Multi-agency working for collective impact
Friday 29 January 2021, 2.00-4.00pm GMT

Session 2 is about how multi-agency, collective working enables us to have greater and more sustained impact. How can we build music projects that involve the likes of police, social workers and refugee support organisations? What impact does it have when we combine skills and connections? We hear from people with experience of working in this way.

The purpose of this session is to begin identifying and building multi-agency connections and partnerships in London. Sign up if you are a musician with a refugee background; run (or are interested in developing) music projects with refugees and asylum seekers; or work with other relevant agencies (such as police, social workers, health workers, charities, refugee support organisations, foster carers, Children’s Services etc). 

2pm Welcome and introduction to I Speak Music
2.15pm Keynote with Kayte Cable
2.45pm Facilitated self-reflective activity
3pm Music sharing
3.05pm Break
3.15pm Group discussion
3.50pm Wrap up

4pm For anyone who would like to stay, we will keep the Zoom room open for informal discussion and music from 4pm

Facilitated by Abi D’Amore
Featuring Kayte Cable, Co-founder and Programme Manager, Big Leaf Foundation


Session 3 – Practice-sharing for music facilitators
Friday 5 February 2021, 2.00-4.00pm GMT 

Session 3 is all about facilitating music in support of people who have been displaced. In particular we will focus on the challenges and opportunities of facilitating music sessions during the pandemic. We hear from some of the wonderful organisations making music with refugees and asylum seekers. 

The purpose of this session is to share ideas, skills and practice. Sign up if you are a musician with a refugee background; a music workshop facilitator (or aspiring facilitator); or you work for music organisations (including Music Education Hubs). 

2pm Welcome and introduction to I Speak Music
2.15pm Practice sharing with Play for Progress
2.40pm Practice sharing with Raghad Haddad, Craig Warnock and Sara Khoroosi from I Speak Music
3pm Break
3.10pm Facilitated activity with Juan
3.55pm Wrap up

Facilitated by Juan David Garzón, music facilitator and trainer
Featuring Dr Anna MacDonald from Play for Progress and musicians from I Speak Music

4pm For anyone who would like to stay, we will keep the Zoom room open for informal discussion and music from 4pm

Events 1 and 3 are suitable for attendees working anywhere in the world (though all sessions will be delivered in English). Event 2 is specific to attendees working in and around London.

Book your free place using the links below.

Session 1 – Displacement and empathy

Session 2 – Multi-agency working for collective impact

Session 3 – Practice-sharing for music facilitators


Find out more about the I Speak Music programme here: 


I Speak Music


Darren Abrahams

Darren photo

Darren Abrahams is a singer, coach, trauma therapist and trainer working internationally as a facilitator and project leader in the fields of personal, cultural and community development. Darren is co-founder of The Human Hive a CIC working with individuals and organisations to make a more welcoming and inclusive world and of The Starr Trust which supports young people to fulfil potential through sports, arts and education. He is on the steering team and head of pastoral care for The Complete Freedom of Truth, an international youth-led project developing global youth citizenship through culture and the arts and is a trainer and Wellbeing Adviser for Musicians Without Borders where he trains musicians to use music for peace building. Darren is an expert at making people feel safe while bringing communities together to heal.

Laura Hassler

Laura photo

Laura Hassler was born and raised in New York. From an early age, she was active in US civil rights and peace movements. She studied cultural anthropology and music, then worked for social change organizations in the US and Europe.

After moving to the Netherlands in 1977, she built a career in music. In 1999, Laura mobilized a large network of socially conscious musicians to found Musicians without Borders. Today, still drawing on this ever-broadening network, Musicians without Borders is one of the world’s pioneers in using music to bridge divides, build community and heal the wounds of war.



Anna MacDonald



Anna MacDonald is a musician, writer, medical doctor and cofounder of Play for Progress where she is currently Head of Relationships for the organisation. She was delighted to be included in this year’s 100 Women In Social Enterprise list- celebrating women leaders in SE. Play for Progress works with unaccompanied refugee young people through music, therapy, art, education and advocacy. PfP works hard to implement trauma-informed practices. This involves full organisational wellbeing, encompassing young people, staff and board. As a young person-led organisation PfP strive to ensure that they are at the heart of our decision making as we work together to make a more playful, peaceful, creative and compassionate society.

Craig Warnock

Craig photo

Craig has been leading group workshops and individual sessions with a variety of young people for several years, teaching multi-instrumental skills, composition and songwriting, recording and production techniques.

He has worked extensively with young people who are living in challenging circumstances and with a range of learning and physical disabilities needs. Craig has been a professional multi-instrumental musician for twenty years involved in recording /touring with many great acts.

Juan David Garzón

Juan photo Photo by: J.A Garlophui @garlophui

Juan David Garzón is a music educator, workshop leader & trainer devoted to
facilitating social change through improvisation, sound and play as well as an
educational consultant who supports institutions in developing a sustainable
online teaching strategy.

With a degree in popular and improvised music and training in music
pedagogy, Juan has developed an innovative methodology that uses the
Internet as a research adventure and as a motivational tool for students but
also for educators and facilitators in many different countries. For the past 15
years he has successfully used this method to establish deeper connections
with students than the ones that happen only in the classroom.

Throughout 2020, Juan focused his consulting on the transition to online
training and online music therapy and he is now focusing his research on
sustainable ways of establishing symbiosis between the analog and digital
worlds and visualising how the music education and facilitation of the future
might look like. For 10 years he has been a lecturer in the course “Internet and
new technologies in music training” as part of the postgraduate studies in
musical training methods at the Javeriana University in Bogotá and has also
recently been teaching at the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla.

Juan has presented his work extensively at conferences and given workshops
in Colombia and the Caribbean, including at the Latin American Forum for
Music Education (Fladem) in Guatemala. The institutions whose educators and
trainers Juan advised on the virtualization and digitization of learning and
teaching include, in addition to several educational institutions in Germany, the
University of Agder in Kristiansand (Norway), the University of Barcelona’s
Master’s degree in music therapy, the Javeriana University, the Catalan
Association for Music Therapy and Musicians Without Borders with their
project “Soy Música” in El Salvador.

Sara Khoroosi

Sara photo

Sara is a Violinist Dancer and Alexander Technique Teacher specialising in working with Performers of any ability, facilitating the ease, freedom and joy that can be experienced through the Performing Arts at any level. Sara also works as a music workshop leader for vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied asylum seekers, refugees and children with disabilities with the I Speak Music Orchestra and the award-winning Orchestra of Unlimited Potential! She is the residing Alexander Technique Teacher for The Actors Centre (Covent Garden); DLD College, Music and Drama Department (Westminster); The Suzuki annual residential Strings at Ascot, and a Teaching member of The Alexander Technique Centre in Covent Garden. As a performer she has played and toured with Manouchska, Dunia and flamenco-jazz fusion band Clandestino; Danced/Choreographed with Mambo Central; and regularly records with a number of contemporary composers.

Instruments: Violin, vocals, keys, percussion
Additional skills: Farsi and Spanish speaker


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