The thought to fuse together music and peace-making traces back some years ago in the year I turned 21. On a trip to Israel-Palestine in 2014, I was teaching English and music in an Arab-Druze village north of Israel when the 50-day summer war broke out. Through conversations with people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds on the ground, I began to ponder the complexities of conflict and peace, war and reconciliation.
My love for music teaching and youth outreach has taken me to far-away places like Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, India, the United Arab Emirates and Chile. Everywhere I go, I purpose to learn from the lives and stories of those I call ‘local heroes’ – ordinary men and women, both young and old, who were building peace in their communities. When I visited schools or youth groups, I saw the opportunity for music-making – especially songwriting – as a way to awaken young people to their God-given creative potential. What if every child learnt the power and gift of songwriting? I began to see it as a peace-making tool and an instrument for healing.
In 2018, I moved to Kabul, Afghanistan to work as a music educator and piano teacher at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. It was here that I became truly convinced of the power of music to bridge differences between people, even in a place steeped in decades of war.
The catalyst for MUSIC MAKERS FOR PEACE coming to life in 2020 was a tragic event: an Afghan young woman was killed by a car bombing in Kabul. A dear friend of mine had known this young woman. She asked if I could help her write a song in memory of her friend. We took out our ukuleles and wrote a song together. This unforgettable connection in a very difficult time reminded me once again of the opportunity that music creates for: nurturing self-expression, alleviating trauma and pain, creating a safe space for peaceful dialogue, cultivating a culture of peace, and even transforming conflict.
The heart of the mission in MUSIC MAKERS FOR PEACE is the people whose creative identities, purpose, and processes carry powerful peace-making messages and actions that send soundwaves of hope in their worlds.