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Excitement for music offsets trauma of war among Kosovo children

A Los Angeles-based composer and music teacher, Liz Shropshire battled the trauma of war in Kosovo with the sensibilities of music.

Sister Shropshire, a member of the Westwood 1st Ward, Los Angeles California Stake, was deeply touched at the televised scenes of refugee camps, burned out homes, prisoners of war, mourning women and traumatized children.

She envisioned a musical education program to help the refugee children, and began an effort to collect musical instruments. She contacted musical instrument manufacturers, held fund-raising activities and donated her personal funds. She collected 140 harmonicas, 130 penny whistles, 50 pairs of drumsticks, four electric keyboards, 60 beginning piano books, 500 pencils and a portable stereo and tape recorder.

What she found in Kosovo was more shocking than what she had seen on television. Thousands of mourning women searched for missing husbands. In rubble-filled streets, children "played executioner" as they re-enacted the traumatic violence they had witnessed.

Through the fall of 1999, she taught music classes to more than 300 Kosovar children. Their response to her teaching was phenomenal. Smiles replaced stone-cold expressions. Excitement and interest replaced depression. By the time she left to return to the United States to raise more funds, the children were begging her to come back and teach them more.

Sister Shropshire has since started a Shropshire Music Foundation to increase self-esteem and scholastic achievement, to foster discipline and improve the quality of life for war-affected children in Kosovo through ongoing musical education and performance programs.

She plans to return to Kosovo and teach children to play band and orchestral instruments, to perform in choirs and orchestras, and hopes to begin a musical theater program. She also hopes to restore Albanian music lost in the cultural genocide and send newly published songbooks to every school and community in Kosovo.

The Shropshire Music Foundation can be reached at:

P.O. Box 642581

Los Angeles, CA 90064

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