Heartbeat unites Israeli and Palestinian youth musicians to build critical understanding, develop creative nonviolent tools for social change, and amplify their voices to influence the world around them.
As a positive alternative to the normalization of segregation, violence, and racism, Heartbeat creates spaces and opportunities for Palestinian and Israeli youth musicians to build critical awareness, respect, and trust while harnessing creative nonviolent tools for self-expression and social change. Engaging in a sustained music, dialogue, and empowerment process, Heartbeat youth musicians become agents of change; harnessing the tools of creativity to imagine possibilities, ask questions, and publicly address systemic problems such as violence, oppression, and inequality — partnering to create a safe, equitable future for all.
Founded in 2007 under a grant from Fulbright and MTV, Heartbeat creates spaces and opportunities for Palestinian and Israeli youth musicians to build critical awareness, respect, and trust while harnessing creative nonviolent tools for self-expression and social change. Over 100 youth musicians from Haifa, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah have participated in Heartbeat retreats, workshops, camps, field trips, overseas exchanges, and the development of ensembles within our local, city-based chapters. All Heartbeat programs are over 95% scholarship-based, ensuring equal access to all.
Heartbeat breaks through entrenched physical and psychological barriers as a constructive alternative to the status quo of segregation, violence, racism, and the power differentials brought on by years of conflict, occupation, and war.
Years of traumatic violence, increasing segregation, antagonistic educational and media policies, and occupation have dramatically polarized the Israeli and Palestinian populations. Tensions between Israeli Jews and Palestinians are on the rise as continued fear, distrust, and increased separation further distance these communities from each other, thereby prolonging the status quo. While the few who use violence and racism dominate headlines and dictate how our communities interact, the vast, silent majority of Israelis and Palestinians yearns for a secure, equitable future but is largely unheard and so remains unaware of its power to influence others and transform the status quo.
Heartbeat’s core programs focus on the establishment and facilitation of ensembles of young Palestinian and Israeli, Arab and Jewish musicians (ages 14-24 years old) who come together for sustained music based dialogue and empowerment programs in multiple cities. During weekly sessions and periodic overnight retreats, Heartbeat youth explore each other’s cultures and narratives in safe, politically neutral settings that support creativity and communication. Developing skills in improvisation, song-writing, performance technique, music theory, communication, and leadership while engaging in dialogue about their lives and the harsh realities around them, participants raise their critical consciousness, and harness their individual and collective agency to influence their communities. Heartbeat also recently launched a Graduate Program which supports Heartbeat musicians and ensembles entering the next phase of their lives post-high school to continue their music and media co-creation in an equalizing safe space.
Throughout this process, Heartbeat creates safe spaces for youth to communicate and witness reality and enables participants to form and express their own opinions. As an educational institution dedicated to horizontal learning, Heartbeat staff members support and trust participants to deepen their understanding of reality and embrace the truth they wish to share with the world.
In stark contrast to the divisions and inequalities around them, Heartbeat participants come to deeply trust one another, respect each other as complete equals, and recognize each other as partners in building a mutually beneficial future for all. When students return to their normal lives in between Heartbeat programs, they much more clearly recognize the power dynamics in society, as well as the patterns of conflict, violence, and coercion, that exist between their communities.
Furthermore, participants from all backgrounds consistently report a sharp increase in self-confidence, communication and leadership skills, commitment to civic engagement, and capacity to effect change in and between their communities.
Music sustains and enables this entire process as the compelling challenges of composing, rehearsing, recording and performing offer a constructive outlet to express and explore participants’ understanding of reality, uniting participants within a shared purpose.
For more insight into what Heartbeat does, please follow this link to hear what some of Heartbeat’s youth musicians have to say.
- Weekly meetings - young musicians come together for weekly music-based dialogue programmes.
- Retreats and camps - enabling musicians to connect with band members on a deeper level through facilitated music activities.
- Audio and video production - music is professionally recorded and music videos are produced to reach the wider community.
- Ensembles - Heartbeat facilitates three local, city-based chapters. For more, visit our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/HEARTBEATMusicTV
- Performances and workshops - offers performances and workshops throughout local communities, as well as organising international tours. To learn about upcoming local and international performances, please visit: http://live.heartbeat.fm/
- International exchanges - since 2010, Heartbeat has engaged in international exchanges with arts organisations from Germany.