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Carol Laula

 Petali Rossi 27 May 2019

(Originally published: 11/2009) Carol Laula is a singer/songwriter/musician and tutor. Since 2005 she has been working for “The Bridge”, a cutting-edge community centre in Easterhouse, one of the most socially deprived areas of Glasgow. She teaches her alumni to create music, to write a song, to sing a song, to be on stage. (729 words) - Eleonora Terrile

Petali Rossi

Courtesy of Petali Rossi

Petali Rossi: How old are your alumni?

Carol Laula: Age group was officially from 12 to 18 years old, however, some of the wee stars were as young as 11 - almost twelve.

P.R.: Are all of them from the socially deprived areas of Glasgow?

C.L.: Yes

P.R.: Is it up to your alumni the choice to attend your course?

C.L.: Yes - all were approached through their school or youth group leaders. I went along to chat with the young folk and chatted to them, explained what we wanted to achieve and tried to encourage their participation.

P.R.: You teach to write a song, to create music, to sing a song, to be on stage. Can you explain your teaching method?

C.L.: In the first instance - FUN! I feel it's important to assess each person's talents and to identify their needs and, with the help of the other fantastic tutors, to utilise those talents and procure those needs.

P.R.: What are the main subjects of your alumni's songs?

A: The subject matter went from Holidays in the sun to break-ups to falling out with parents to being bullied…pretty varied, pretty fun and pretty heavy - a good way of identifying issues and working with partners to help with these issues.

P.R.: What are the main challenges of your work?

C.L.: There are many, many challenges which change on a daily basis, but none (so far) that are insurmountable. They can be as simple as finding a room for extra bands to work in or as difficult as dealing with the territorial politics of one 'wee guy' not talking to another 'wee guy' because of where he's from.

P.R.: How do you manage your alumni's difficulties?

C.L.: Talking…always talking to them.

P.R.: How do you manage your alumni's fear to be on stage?

C.L.: The project ran for over two years and so I was able to develop a relationship with these young people (in fact, I saw one girl the other night who came up and gave me a big hug - of course, there were tears!!!). Over time, there was a development of trust and always, they were reminded that, no matter what, if anything went wrong, I and the other tutors, were on hand to help out. (The tears were from me incidentally!)

P.R.: When do you think to have done a "good work" with your alumni?

C.L.: When an older teenager, who can't sit in a room without starting a fight, sits behind a drum-kit, with other 'kids' and plays their song - he communicates in a calm, open manner. When a wee girl, who wont say boo to a ghost (or a tutor) stands up in a theatre with almost 200 people and sings her song. When one wee boy, who's constantly in trouble at school, comes in and says, 'Ive written this at home, can we try it?' When I see a girl two years later who comes up and gives me a hug and tells me she's started a band and she's at uni and she's confident and able to hold a conversation with me like a confident, mature young woman! When one of the girls, who wants to fight with me throughout the whole project comes up at the 'aftershow-party' and asks for a hug and says thanks! Believe me, I could go on for another few thousand words…at least!

P.R.: What is your last success with your class?

C.L.: I have the pleasure of working with lots of groups on an ongoing basis, but with the Platform group, the greatest success was our end of project performance - over two nights, we showcased the project and had the young people perform their songs - we called it the East x North East Festival…we recorded a DVD, we showcased, not only their songs, but their artwork and animations which served as a backdrop for the stage set… Of course, these are the big, visible successes, but for me, the successes are constant little victories - probably like all the wee things I've mentioned thus far.

P.R.: What is your personal "recipe" to defend children's rights?

C.L.: Respect - for oneself and for each other. Parameters - always have boundaries and be very clear with the young folk what those boundaries are - let them draw up the rules and they will (usually) stick to them - thus procuring their own rights and that of others.

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