Overcoming limitations with music
Making music and doing it together is what makes Faktor G such a success. The initiative brings disabled and non-disabled young people together not only to have fun themselves but to bring joy to others.
After the last note fades there is a brief moment of silence before the audience erupts into deafening applause … This is what the musicians of Faktor G experienced after their first big performance at the 2014 International Church Convention in Munich.
On that day, one of Kathrin Schinski’s biggest wishes was fulfilled. This ensemble is something very special for the 42-year-old conductor: Faktor G is a musical project in which young people with disabilities make music alongside their non-disabled peers. The group consists of a ten-member band and a 25-member choir: people with intellectual and physical disabilities, young people who suffer from diseases that no one sees, but also those who are perfectly healthy.
On the way to more inclusion
After studying early childhood education and working as a kindergarten teacher for a few years, Kathrin Schinski began to study Social Education. During a work placement for an independent musician she learned an important lesson: anyone can make music and without any previous training.
Since then she has been self-employed and has been working with sick and disabled people. She has learned that music has to be brought to the people because it can overcome limitations. Before long she spoke with Udo Rühmkorff about her professional experiences in the field, whom she met while preparing for the European Youth Day 2009. He was the representative for the project Handicapped Kids in North-Rhine Westphalia (Germany), an initiative for intellectually and physically disabled children and young people.
Ever since then Kathrin Schinski has been looking after disabled children and adults for the initiative Handicapped Kids during divine services or youth conventions. With time she developed a growing desire that young people, both disabled and not, share something that brings them together. The vision for a unique music project was born.
A challenging start
There were quite a few unexpected challenges when she began to work on realising her vision. “And this is where God came in,” she says in hindsight. Often when she asked people if they wanted to join the project, they spontaneously said yes. Some of them are still involved today. During that time she also learned: “We need to trust God much more. He steers everything and never leaves us alone.”
Many parents showed up with their disabled children for the first rehearsal in the fall of 2013. And many of the young people who were already involved with Handicapped Kids also came. There was even a small band ready to play. However, the rehearsal did not go as well as expected. The group’s first song, however, did become a real hit: “Immer und überall” (German for “Always and everywhere”). In the meantime it has become a kind of signature tune of Faktor G.
Working together to make it a go
For their first big appearance at the International Church Convention (ICC) 2014 in Munich (Germany) the initiative needed a name. “A few of us were sitting together, trying to come up with a suitable name. Suddenly someone said ‘Faktor G’.” In mathematics the term “factor” is an element or constituent that contributes to a result or influences it. The “G” stands for “gemeinsam” (German for “together”). Kathrin Schinski’s favourite explanation: “Factor from Latin facere. That means: to make, to do.”
Another identifying feature was born at the ICC in Munich. As the group had been given so much publicity in advance of the Church Convention, the musicians suddenly found themselves standing in front of an audience of a thousand people in a huge hall. For many this gigantic setting was frightening. But the musicians found a way to deal with. On stage they simply closed ranks and took each other by the hand. This marked the beginning of a tradition that continues to this day.
Meeting as equals
Each year, depending on the occasions, there are one to two concerts and at least one concert trip. The new year always starts with a kick-off rehearsal to which anyone who feels like making music is invited. There is no sheet music. “We make rehearsal CDs beforehand so that the young people can listen to the songs over and over again.”
Faktor G has developed a repertoire of about thirty pieces this way. In fact, the group mastered its biggest and most important appearance to date with the same method: their concert in front of nearly 30,000 people at the International Youth Convention 2019 in Düsseldorf (Germany).
Kathrin Schinski would like to see more inclusion taking place in the audience. “We would love it if not only the families and friends of the young people came, but also people with disabilities and guests, of course.” Then they could experience themselves what music can achieve. “I am so touched when I see so many different young people coming together on one and the same level.”