International Night of Music: Making new friends through music

If you have fun making music or singing and would like to meet people, then the “International Night of Music” at the University of Hamburg is exactly the place for you.

by Florian Schubert

Rehearsal at the piano © Oh, Schubert/DAAD
Rehearsal at the piano . © Oh, Schubert/DAAD

Twice a year the house is packed at PIASTA, the Program for International Students and Alumni at the University of Hamburg. This is when a group of students holds their semi-annual “International Night of Music” – a concert of music from around the world. But by the time they finally go on stage and perform, they have travelled down an interesting, funny and occasionally difficult road. Any student enrolled at the University of Hamburg is welcome to participate. And if you do, you are guaranteed to make new friends from many countries and have lots of fun at rehearsals!

Nice people from around the world

“It’s not about being professional, it’s about having fun making music,“ explains project director Julie. And above all, it’s about giving students the possibility to get to know other people and other countries through music.

Performance at the
Performance at the "International Night of Music" . © Oh, Schubert/DAAD

“The music group is a way for me to get in contact with people who have introduced their home countries to me through music. What’s more, it’s always been a pleasure for me to represent Italy,” says Martina who comes from a town near Venice. The master’s degree student Xie “Andy” from China has also participated in the group for the past couple semesters. He met Julie at his student dormitory and learned about the international band project by e-mail. As an exchange student, there have been times when he has felt lonely. “I like to sing, and I think I’m not half bad either. It was a good opportunity to have fun making music and getting to know people at the same time.”

One of the main goals of the group is to provide people the chance to meet other students. But that’s not where the project stops. Many band members become close friends and meet up outside of rehearsals. They frequently go on trips together and organise barbeques.

The audience © Oh, Schubert/DAAD
The audience . © Oh, Schubert/DAAD

Musical journey around the globe

The group has become familiar with a broad range of genres – from Russian traditional music to Japanese ballads to Korean pop music. “I also had a blast singing in foreign languages like Finnish or Korean – languages I never knew before,” says Martina from Italy. “Last year, together with a Korean girl, we all sang ‘Gangnam Style’,” she recalls, “It was funny because she was able to tell us about the content and the background of the song.”

Of course, being in a band means making music, but in this group, the main thing is having fun. As long as you enjoy singing or can play an instrument, you’re welcome to take part no matter how good you are.

Fun at rehearsals © Oh, Schubert/DAAD
Fun at rehearsals . © Oh, Schubert/DAAD

Fun at rehearsals

At the beginning of the semester, around 20 students from Germany and abroad meet for the first time. During the first rehearsal, “everyone gets the chance to propose songs that he or she would like to sing,“ Julie explains. “Then we decide together if we want to sing it as a group.” These rehearsals are notoriously chaotic, the group leader admits with a wink.

The facts

The new band project runs for one semester and starts a few weeks after lectures begin. After signing up, Julie notifies everyone via e-mail about where and when to meet. Every Sunday, you get together with the others to rehearse the songs which the group has selected. There’s plenty of room for experimentation; for example, you can make a rock song into a ballad or try out new instruments.

In any case, it’s definitely worth participating! Each year the project is presented at the “Piasta International Welcome Week”. That’s where you can find out how to sign up to participate in the group yourself.

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