Telling Student Stories Through Music

Schools in Sweden and California team up to inspire their students

by Dr. Rod Berger

Gezim Gashi is a storyteller that enjoys teaching kids how also to be storytellers. As a songwriter early in life, Gezim found a natural progression into his role as public relations and marketing guru for the Academy of Music and Business (AMB) in Tingsryd, Sweden.

Gezim sees his job as having the power to tell the stories of AMB and using them to make an impact by changing opinion and perspective through emotional connection. After all, at AMB, the students themselves are the active participants in the PR and marketing campaigns. As Gezim points out, “It’s not about self-promotion and lauding the Academy, it’s about doing the right thing and doing good - that means focusing on the students and their achievements.” Gezim notes that all of the PR and marketing comes from the point of view of the students, because AMB is all about students, even though the power of the stories impact the day-to-day experiences of the teachers and staff.

Gezim uses a core-values program call “My Better Me” which focuses on helping the students be better people in business and life. The older students actively become role models for the younger classes and pass the legacy of AMB down to the next generation.

Gezim tells the story of one of his students named Belle, a 15-year-old girl who was troubled by the street violence in Stockholm. She poured her heart and emotions into a song she wrote, and approached Gezim. He was impressed and started collaborating with her to record and promote her creation. After producing a video of her singing her song, he posted it on Facebook and it got over 100,000 views within an hour; a week later she was doing the morning talk shows in Sweden, and was approached by record companies offering her a recording contract. It was a demonstration of the power of public relations and marketing.

Collaboration is viewed as a powerful tool in the eyes of Gezim, a passion shared by Mary Kay Altizer from the Oaks Christian School in Los Angeles. The two met up and formed an international pilot program of musical collaboration fostering global learning and cultural sharing among students. While searching for a way to allow their prospective students to converse and share music files in real time, they discovered Soundtrap, a collaborative software tool that perfectly fit the creative process. It allowed students to text and video conference, making friendships and bonding across cultures and oceans while learning everything from music composition to Swedish culture. 

Students from Christian Oaks flew to Sweden to perform with their AMB counterparts at the American Embassy in Stockholm, and the resulting conference was a massive success. The AMB students returned the favor and flew to Los Angeles to perform with the Oaks Christian orchestra, for what was declared a life-changing magical event. The students in Sweden and Los Angeles learned so much by connecting through Soundtrap that the experience went far beyond just making music. It allowed the power of storytelling to make a huge impact on lives spread across the globe.

About Gezim Gashi:

Gezim Gashi is a 27-year-old marketer and entrepreneur who is Head of PR and Marketing at AXB Education. He’s known for being a doer and for bringing a new way of thinking into the marketing and educational world. Gezim’s biggest focus is on the next generation and giving them a voice.

Follow Gezim Gashi on Twitter

Portions of this article were originally published in the Huffington Post by Dr. Rod Berger

This video highlights the collaborative project between The Academy of Music and Business in Tingsryd, Sweden and Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, California:

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