Welcome Aboard the Kinship


Founded in 2004, gaining full charity status in 2005, KINSHIP has been sailing the world for eight years with the aim of creating safe, exciting spaces for Kids In Need of Somewhere Happy & Interesting to Play. Since our first voyage in 2005, when we were invited to redevelop an Infant Playground space at Upper Tibetan Children's Village, Dharamsala (India), members of the KINSHIP team have helped children realise their playful visions in Ladakh (India), Adafiatsimo (Madagascar), Abu Dis (Palestinian Territory, Israel) and at play projects across the UK.

These projects have been made possible by the generosity of our friends and family at a number of KINSHIP fundraising events and parties; through a substantial legacy from the Jenny Raper Estate; and through a one-off grant from the Edward Starr Charitable Trust. We would like to express our thanks to all who have supported us on our journey thus far and look forward to increasing support for our projects as they develop and prosper.

This summer 2013, KINSHIP returned to the Himalayas, this time to Ladakh and Zanskar with two exciting musical projects.

The first, a project which began in two London Primary schools, Our Lady of Victories and Primrose Hill Primary School, in June 3013, told the tale of the legendary King Gesar of Ling, inviting Open Academy Fellow Hannah Bishop and Post-Graduate student Chelsea Cowan from the Royal Academy of Music to interpret the tale musically with the children through composition and song. Tansy led Mask and Movement workshops while Tanzin introduced the children of both schools to life in his native Zanskar through slide-shows and games describing Zanskari flora and fauna, musical instruments and customs. Footage of these workshops was then taken to Zanskar where storyteller Rigzin Kalsang translated the script and songs from English to Zanskari. Along with four horses carrying baskets of percussion instruments, Hannah, Chelsea and Kalsang took their musical tale to children living and studying in remote villages in Zanskar: Karsha Infant School, the children of Testa village and Phugtal Monastery school. The trek was led by Tanzin Norbu, who also documented the workshops in both London and Zanskar. Chelsea and Hannah raised their own travel expenses through generous sponsorship of friends and relatives and the trek itself was kindly subsidised by Tanzin’s trekking company Mountain Tribal Vision www.mountaintribalvision.com

You can read all about Hannah and Chelsea’s adventures and visit related articles about the journey HERE

You can read an article in Music Education Magazine UK about Phase One of the project HERE.  A longer article about the whole project will appear in Music Magaizine Asia in January 2014.

The second project was a continuation of an instrument-making project initiated by KINSHIP in 2010, the year of Ladakh’s unexpected and devastating floods. Instrument Maker Will Embliss, unable to complete the project at that time was determined to return this year along with volunteer Royal Academy students Hannah Rankin and Alyson Frazier, in order to build a free-standing outdoor xylophone and three metalaphones, whose frames were constructed from old chair legs! Alyson and Hannah ran woodwind workshops for the children of Druk Pema White Lotus school. You can see pictures of the instruments in situ and watch footage of them being played by the children on our Gallery page.

Read more about adventures by clicking HERE




Another article regarding Phase 2 of the project, printed in local Ladakhi newspaper Reach Ladakh, appeared in theSeptember 2013 edition.

You can read it below or visit the link click here to read in its original format.

Leh: Pioneers and heroes of Education - Maria Montessori, Ruldoph Steiner, Rabindranath Tagore, Satish Kumar to name but a few - have long been advocates of creative teaching and learning. To define this style extremely broadly, we could describe it as learning in which the student is encouraged (by the creative teacher) to take an inspirational starting point and follow it through in his or her own unique way, interpreting questions posed in the light of personal research and experience. As teachers and practitioners, we are getting better, by and large, at providing adequately interesting stimuli for our very youngest students in both India and the UK, teaching and learning through song, dance, kinesthetic activity, visual props, role-play and colour. However, it is often remarked that creative learning seems to get lost as children get older; learning by rote becomes the standard way and improvisation, initiative and originality sadly shunned in favour of jumping through the hoops of accepted knowledge in public examinations and over-zealous assessments. This can be true of both educative systems in India and the U.K. So how to address this dilemma is a big question?

Tanzin Norbu, born in Testa, Zanskar, enjoyed a varied and multi-cultural education, first in an open classroom under a tree in Testa (age 6-7) then in Manali (Junior and High School) next in Jammu where he graduated in Biology at the University there and finally, two M.A.s later in London, where he met his wife, Tansy. Tanzin is a firm believer that an education is not only about learning to read and write, but must go above and beyond these basic needs. 'We need to learn moral values, how to be a good character and become someone who can make a positive contribution towards a healthy society,' he says. ‘Creativity makes for confident and innovative learners and teaches students how to live a life, not just how to make a living.’

Tansy, a graduate of King's College, Cambridge, who worked for many years as a Creative Arts and Music teacher in both Upper TCV (Dharamsala, India), Druk Pema Karpo School (Shey) and Primrose Hill Primary School (London) and Tanzin decided the time was ripe to connect their respective cultures through a creative project which would link primary-aged children in both London and Zanskar, along with students from London's Royal Academy of Music.

The inspiration came from the epic tales of Ling Gesar, whose stories Tanzin grew up hearing sung by Village Elders through the freezing Zanskari winter months. Musicians Hannah Bishop and Chelsea Cowen interpreted Tanzin and Tansy’s script instrumentally, in two London primary schools, with four classes of children over three weeks. Tanzin introduced the land of his birth through slide-shows and games about Zanskari flora and fauna, instruments and customs.

The project then flew East, from Delhi to Leh, for Leh to Karsha to Testa and Phukthar, where Tanzin, an experienced trek leader, guided an expedition with a difference: a Creative Education trek with Hannah and Chelsea playing trumpet and flute and pack-horses loaded with baskets of instruments to leave behind with the children in the villages.

Kalsang, a current student at Jammu (also from Testa), translated the English script and songs in Zanskari; and the project trekked for fifteen days. The children of Zanskar were every bit as enthusiastic and as engaged as the students with whom the team worked in London: the singing was robust, the mask-making and painting delicate and imaginative. Composing in small groups with the musicians was a new experience for Zanskari students and therefore something to be developed.

Hannah Bishop (Trumpeter) found the journey to Zanskar to share her music with the youngsters of Zanskar particularly epic, since this was her very first journey to India. After travelling 11 days from London, she reports on her excitement at meeting the first group of children in Karsha. 'Chelsea and I were a tad nervous about following the script in Zanskari,' she confessed: but with plenty of eye contact and many actions from Kalsang, even the constraints of language were overcome. The KINSHIP team worked with three classes of children age 7-9, all of whom were audibly excited to witness brass and silver instruments being unpacked from music cases. 'There were many gasps and giggles. It looked like the children had never see anything like it,' relates Chelsea Cowen, flautist.

The children seemed to love learning the songs and echoes in many different keys floated around the school during the lunch-break after the workshop. Another thing Hannah and Chelsea noticed was how good the Karsha children were at sharing resources: 'They were happy to share a paintbrush one between three when we were mask-making, a few strokes each then pass it round: imagine children in the UK having such patience!' exclaimed Hannah. The children's class teacher added that the children would remember the unique experience for a very long time! And hoped the team would return to offer the same again to Y1 and 2 next year.

Before moving on to Testa, the KINSHIP team left a basket of hand-held percussion instruments with the class, bells, cymbals, recorders, drums and xylophones, confident that their enthusiastic Class Teacher would bring this out and let the children experiment musically again once the team had left.

Tanzin and Tansy are happy to report that their initial hypothesis- that children thrive on creative, exciting, interactive learning- has proved true so far in both London and Zanskar. Tanzin took extensive footage of workshops in all the schools involved, and a short film is being compiled.

To conclude, Tanzin, Tansy and their musical volunteer team are keen to extend this project, involving increasing numbers of children both in the Zanskar Valley and London, developing an ongoing musical dialogue with teachers, children and their parents. Tanzin and Tansy would be delighted to hear from you if your class or school would like to be involved over the summer of 2014. Please visit their website for project information and contact details.