From 2012 to 2016 Lukas Pairon did field work in Kinshasa for his PhD-research on understanding how the experience of structured musical education and practice could have an influence on the lives of young people in the often difficult living socio-economic conditions of the city of Kinshasa (DR Congo).
Social music projects are being developed in urban contexts all over the world, and the role music can play in social work is now being studied more and more (see: www.simm-platform.eu).
The young musicians who have participated in Pairon’s research in Kinshasa come out of complicated social backgrounds: young adult men who were members of violent gangs, and young adult men and women who were as so-called ‘witch’-children living in the streets. They all believe that becoming musicians played an important role in helping them navigate towards better positions in their social lives, and they express this by saying that they were “saved by music” (see: www.lukas-pairon.eu/phd).
Pairon’s narrative research studied and highlights what he conceives as 4 important building stones to succeed the social ambitions of such music projects: (1) a combination of artistic and psychosocial accompaniment, (2) the possible impact of mastering an instrument and music repertoire, (3) shared ownership and democratic organisation of the social music projects, and (4) the intrinsic interest of making music for itself.
During his keynote-speech in Ghent Lukas Pairon will focus on this last building stone – music for itself – and develop why young people in complex urban contexts can be so interested in making music, even if they cannot have much extrinsic benefits from it.
The research question of his research in Kinshasa was what the role of music could be in social and community work – and the impact of music-making on social change and inclusion – as proposed in social music projects to young people in the poverty-stricken and often violent surroundings of Kinshasa. But in the course of his fieldwork the question became more and more what made these young people be so keen on making music even without them obtaining much social impact or other forms of extrinsic benefits from it.