City News – Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Five hundred street children from Greater Jakarta are taking part in a music workshop as part of a contest that could see them win a recording contract.
Veteran musician Embi C. Noor, a jury member, said Monday about 1,300 children from 15 shelters registered for the contest.
During the first round of the contest last month, all of the children had a chance to sing and play an instrument.
Jury members selected the best 500 to move on to the next stage of the contest.
Embi said the children were selected based on musical skill, creativity, performance and uniqueness.
"Five hundreds of them moved on to the next step," he said.
The contestants are now taking part in a three-day workshop that started Monday. Fifty will be selected to attend another workshop that will last for a week and involve top musicians Dwiki Dharmawan and Franky Sahilatua.
"We will then pick the best three to do a recording with Sony," Embi said.
The event is being sponsored by Nokia, Sony BMG and Plan Indonesia, an international non-governmental organization focusing on children’s welfare.
Although there are numerous non-governmental organizations working with street children here, they continue to be a marginalized community that rarely receives attention from the government. One of the main ways for these children to earn the money necessary to survive is by working as a street musician.
While street children are often viewed with a wary eye by people who see them as little better than criminals, the children themselves are more likely to become victims of violence on the streets.
There are no official statistics on the number of street children in Greater Jakarta.
This contest will give a few of the children rare access to proper musical instruments and recording professionals. Organizers hope this will help the children get off the street and begin building a future.
Contest organizers have provided shelters with musical instruments, to give the children a chance to rehearse.
"We are trying to help these children who love music, because for them music is a perfect way to express themselves," said Plan Indonesia acting country director Pol DeGreve.
Susilo Adinegoro, the coordinator of Sanggar Akar, one of the shelters, said the contest was a good chance for the children to express themselves and develop their creativity.
"The most important thing is not the recording contract, but more about how the children learn to compete and interact," he said.
Hasan Aulia, general manager of Nokia Indonesia, said the contest might also help the country’s music industry.
"We also want to give an opportunity to the many talented street musicians to perform, and we hope with this contest they can be part of Indonesia’s music industry."