It would be unimaginably difficult to not have a voice, to not be able to express one’s self. There are times when all we want is to be heard, to know that someone is listening to us. I think this simple system of communication is so integral to our society that it’s difficult to imagine it any other way. How would I feel if no one listened? Even worse, how would I feel if I had no voice to communicate with?
Music is one of the oldest forms of communication. Through the medium of music we can communicate with other people around the world no matter what language we speak or write. It allows us to share something personal with other people without knowing who they are and where they come from. I think that’s a really important concept, to willingly share something personal. I think of people like Eric Clapton who have turned the insane tragedy of the loss of a child into song, or Fela Kuti who used music as a weapon against the militant and the corrupt. I know that these are just two of the countless examples, but the point is that music allows us to voice opinions, and emotions that we may not otherwise be able to voice, and allows others to hear the message in a way they might not otherwise be able to.
We live in an age where arts programs are being dropped from our schools. These programs allow children to find their voice, express their own feelings, and provides a positive environment that can allow children to thrive a midst everything that will try to drive them down, and silence their voice. In many places around the world there aren’t music programs to speak of, and many times these places are the ones that most need to be heard, that most need a voice.
Playing for Change is trying to do something about that while spreading a message of peace, tolerance, and love. Better yet, they are doing it all with the universal language of music. Not only do they celebrate the music that unites us, they explore all the different music that helps define us. The project started out with and idea that music unites us. The following is taken from the Playing for Change website:
“Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.”
If you’ve never seen what they do then please click on the videos at the bottom of this page, or follow one of the links. Basically a guy named Mark Johnson and his team went around the world recording musicians playing the same song. They then edited, and masterfully so, together one cohesive song and video. It is amazingly powerful. The project followed up with some touring, and the creation of a foundation that builds music schools around the world for children. It’s such a beautiful concept using music to provide a way for others to find their voices. They have a pretty good documentary about the project. The documentary contains music and interviews with musicians and those that have used music to soothe and lessen the ills of the world. It;s a great watch, and comes highly recommended.