Connecting music, social care and the environment in Italy
In Italy, a unique co-operative is promoting socio-healthcare services through music.
The band comprises five musician-educators who cover famous songs, from jazz and rock to electronic music, performing with instruments such as a guitar built with a broom, drums constructed from bins and the unique-sounding tubofono, made from interlocking tubes.
Set up in 2006 by a farmer who ran an ecotourism hostel in Emilia Romagna, the Lunezia co-op aims to create jobs and opportunities specifically for people with mental health issues.
It manages a service for the department of mental health at a hospital in nearby Mantua, which connects citizens in its care with local enterprises, improving mutual knowledge between them. People receiving this form of social care are paid to work by the government, which means the enterprises do not need to charge them.
The scheme also enables local companies to be more socially responsible and offers them a way to become part of the wider community. And for the citizens, these internships can help them redevelop their work identity and social role.
It was in this context that the Lunezia co-op began to focus its attention on diversity and sustainable resources and, from there, to music. “The idea of focusing our attention on objects considered scrap in order to show their musical and communicative potential is because the majority of us were also musicians,” says Miatralvia’s Elia Adami.
At the Lunezia co-operative’s “musical farm”, Miatralvia works with children in groups divided by age, who often visit on school trips.
The experience starts by listening to the sounds of nature. “We often don’t pay attention to the sounds around us, but just by adding a rhythm, we can create a song,” says Elia. “This shows both the value of common objects and the importance of an eco-friendly lifestyle.
“We show children that it’s not necessary to have a guitar, a piano or a drum to create music. Moreover, these workshops help develop the children’s creativity. They are amazed when they discover how easily they can create a trumpet with a balloon, some sellotape and cardboard.”
When an instrument is built, an experimental phase begins as the instruments are adapted in order to change their sound or give them originality. The children then also have the chance to record their performance in a real recording studio.
In the regional dialect, Miatralvia means ‘don’t get rid of it’ – and it takes time and patience to discover new instruments, for example using an old phone or a broken typewriter, and to find a way to play them. “If you are a musician it’s simpler,” says Elia, “but a guitar made with a broom and three cables fixed on it still needs lots of practice.”
Despite the challenges, Miatralvia is still looking at new ways to sustainably use the universal language of music to spread an environmental message, and provide new approaches to social care. And although Miatralvia’s focus has mainly been on young people, Elia hopes that “our work will show a new way of life for adults, too”.