Saturday, September 12, 2009

A new Listen for Life production in the making...

First, some brief background info: Our hybrid social venture Listen for Life ( is a global family of music listeners, performers, and producers, all working together to restore music as a channel of communication and a unifying force for peace.

We work towards that mission through a variety of outreach, education, and/or conflict resolution projects, live music programmes, and cross-cultural media productions - all funded from our personal pockets and occassional sponsorships/donations.

Well, yesterday LFL Productions filmed a wonderful live concert event, "Folks Songs and Rituals of Old Russia", put on in San Francisco by two different internationally recognised women's ensembles working together - KITKA and KOSTROMA. The part of their programme that I am especially excited to share in our eventual television/video version was an enactment of a Russian village wedding ritual showcasing the conflicting emotions of parents, families, girlfriends, and the participating villages of the two spouses-to-be. This programme will also provide wonderful content for a future unit on Russia within our Travels with Music series ( which offers an interactive experience of the world's cultures through the eyes and ears of their master musicians and local villagers as well. More about TWM in a future posting, or you can check out the website for a glimpse at one or two units from Series One - 6 hours of interactive content featuring 15 cultures thus far .....
And if you happen to be in the Bay Area this month and want to catch the Russian village wedding "live" then there are two more performances on the 13th (Menlo Park) and 27th (Point Reyes Station). See KITKA's website for details.
If you prefer to be an arm chair traveler, however, you will be able to catch the performance on our LFL Productions video online, coming soon....
and any professional film-makers, videographers, production crew, editors, cameramen or sound engineers are always welcome to join our existing LFL production teams all over the world or start up a new one in your location and help us to capture special music events and cross-cultural opportunities that can be shared with all peoples as a way to build peace through a greater appreciation and understanding of other traditions. Join us in making a difference through Music in Action!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

WANTED: your thoughts, ideas and opinions about.....

........Unity - through music! Is it possible?
Nearly every person on this planet listens to music in some form or another.
Research has shown that music can build bridges, ease tensions, create a common denominator for renewed discussion during conflict resolution, express emotions that are too powerful or dangerous for words, lift the spirits and enrich the hearts or minds of those listening in a group.....
So if most people on the planet participate in something with that many positive benefits, why not create a heightened awareness of that potential, and encourage the deliberate use of music as a unifying force throughout the world?

If you are interested in one particular organisation that works towards this mission/cause then you might like to view the following video link:

But I believe that the tremendous potential within the communicative power of music is much too important to be left to the success or failure of any one particular individual, group or organisation in any single generation -
EACH of us can start, in our individual lives, and we can create a positive "cause" or "movement" of sorts by spreading this awareness through social networks and online tools, while also sharing our own ideas or experiences of specific instances where music has provided (or can provide) a positive, all-important tool for mental/spiritual nourishment, conflict resolution, or cross-cultural communication.

I would love your ideas, not only on the potential uses/power of music , but also on ways in which to spread this awareness and message successfully around the globe, particularly to the people and regions that need it most.
We need your advice and participation!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Yet again I have to apologize for the very long time since my last posting. My global organization Listen for Life has been extremely busy, focused on a number of projects on three different continents, but I would like to tell you about just one of them at the moment.

As most of you will recall, January 2008 was a nightmarish time of post-election violence in Kenya. A member of Listen for Life's advisory board has been a highly respected youth leader for years in Kenya, and we heard from him first hand about his mother being chased from her home in the rioting, and running - with her next door neighbor - from the torch-brandishing youths of conflicting tribes, who were told by warlords that they would be paid for each home that they burnt. While the two women were trying to escape into the woods, her neighbour was shot with an arrow and his mother had to keep running. She hid for days and eventually our friend was able to collect enough funds to charter a small plane and ferry her and many other women and children of that village out of the area. His mother only recently returned to her home but there is nothing left and the situation is actually much worse for everyone there, now, than it was before the violence. Before, people from the various tribes lived and worked together but now there is distrust, animosity, and lack of peace.

He therefore came to Listen for Life some months ago and asked us to come to Kenya and set up a project there, because he is convinced that the very best way to make a permanent, positive impact in this situation is through music.
Listen for Life has therefore teamed up with another organization called the World Youth Alliance (WYA) and the deputy director of that global organization is in Kenya. Together we have planned what we believe to be a very worthwhile project of great potential and power: at specific youth events of music and dance, scheduled for late April and early May, we are bringing together the youth and leaders from the 7 principal (previously warring) tribes and we are flying in professional media producers from Listen for Life in USA and Europe. They will then teach workshops for those gathered, about filming and recording their own native musicians - thus giving them a new job skill, potential employment, and helping to preserve their cultures, while at the same time giving them an activity that promotes peace, centered on the one common denominator: music. They will also help them to set up their own radio station and/or programming, in order to give the future generations of Kenya a voice for positive change rather inciting others to continue the divisive violence.

The WYA has contributed what they can to support and organize these unique, imaginative events which are scheduled to take place in 3 locations of Kenya over a 12 day period, but they contacted us recently saying that their funding source for the project itself had suddenly evaporated and they are now reliant on Listen for Life in the USA to find funding or donations from any individuals, groups, micro-lenders, corporations, etc (of ANY country), in order to cover the $8000 of budgeted expenses for all of the project and its three events - but if we don't find that funding THIS WEEK, they will be forced to cancel or postpone the events until a later time because we won't have time to get the Visas for the LFL production people to travel to Kenya to teach the workshops, and the WYA will also not be able to secure the venues for the music and cross-cultural sharing and dialogue that has been set up as part of this important project.
Meanwhile, as I have been getting the word out in Kenya about the scheduled workshops, we have had wonderful offers of other locations and regions of Kenya that would like to host the events at a 4th location during the same time period. So far, over 200 youth from all over Kenya are signed up to attend the workshops and events. Keeping in mind that in Africa, a "youth" is traditionally someone up to age 35, and the potential for impacting both current and future generations with this potential project, becomes quite evident. If we end up having to postpone the events, then I will believe that was meant to be, but for now I am sharing this with everyone just in case some of you feel that it should definitely take place NOW and want to be involved in some way or know someone who might be able to help. If so, please get in touch with Listen for Life (which is a 501c3 organisation) immediately ! The website is or you can email me ( or the Executive Director, Andy Anderson, at THANKS!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Know any teachers? or Students? of course you do! (I hope!)

Hi everyone. Sorry for the delay of several days now since my last posting but I have had several performances in the interim - as singer, pianist, and/or conductor - in different venues. I really appreciate all of you who have taken the time to share your comments on my first posting, and am especially grateful for your enthusiastic encouragement for our mission!

Speaking of that "mission", I will be writing from Geneva (Switzerland) next week! I will be there February 22-28 for a variety of meetings with individuals, organisations, NGOs, UN-related offices, and potential funders for our projects. I have also been asked to speak at an international conference there, about the creation of online communities and cybervolunteering as a way to improve cross-cultural sharing and human rights issues. Since Listen for Life, the global non-profit that I founded, has projects or affiliates in 45 countries worldwide, we are endeavoring to set a real model for cybervolunteering (as well as on-the-ground teams in each location, of course).

I mention this trip to Geneva in particular, today, because I want to tell you about one of the organisations there that we are working with. They are called GenevaWorld and they have a beautiful website (well, in my opinion anyway) in both French and English at ...There you can find a separate section about their "191" project - a group of 191 art works created by children around the world, expressing their own cultural views to the world and to each other - with the intention of touring this exhibit worldwide and letting the youth inspire the adults towards a desire for unity.

Listen for Life has now committed to organising some music from all of these same cultures/countries to be performed at each exhibit location worldwide, including some representative youth performers on each concert. And we have received one generous offer of a host venue for this touring "191" exhibit (and concert) in the USA, for which the GenevaWorld directors are very grateful - and they will be even more excited, I know, if more significant host venues are forthcoming so that people across North America can be made aware of the project.

But that is not the main purpose of my writing this post today. Jean Cordey, the GenevaWorld founder, is a wonderful visionary, constantly seeking ways to let children and youth be the inspiration and driving force for peace and cross-cultural understanding. He is launching a new project and touring exhibition this year, similar to "191" but with a different focus and theme - that of "Children's Views of Child Labour".
To quote him directly:
"We are looking for children (maximum 16 yrs) from all over the world, who are or have been child workers - as well as children who have never been exploited in this way, {but will hopefully have learned about the issue in school from their teachers} - to express their feelings, and share their suffering and/or hope, through their artworks".

There is more specific information about the Child Labour project on the GenevaWorld website, of course, but the important thing to note is that the deadline for receiving the artwork in Geneva is March 31, 2009. That is only 6 weeks from today. Jean tells me that they have activated their own network of correspondents, schools, and teachers throughout the world and they have already received many many drawings....but they can only choose one or two from each country that are submitted, because ideally they want to have representation from each country and culture of the globe in the final exhibits. However, they do not have many contacts in North America and they would ideally like to have 100-150 drawings from this region to choose from, so Jean asked me to get the invitation out to as many teachers/students as I can, as quickly as I can! (there are also some other specific regions where he has fewer contacts, so if you are reading this blog from a location that you suspect may not be included in his current submissions, by all means contact him - or me).....

There were some inspiring discussions that arose from my last posting, about music teachers and the pivotal role they can sometimes (even unknowingly) play in the lives of individuals. In matters of sociology, citizenship, or cultural understanding, parents and teachers (whether in a classroom or home-school environment) again play a pivotal role in creating opportunities for discussions that raise awareness of critical issues around the globe. Both the youth and adults in North America can sometimes run the risk of being isolated from news about human rights or cultural issues that, at first glance, may not seem to affect their lives directly - but once the students learn that their peers in other countries do experience a direct impact from these injustices, then the students in general tend to respond very strongly and with a very empathetic desire to DO something. If we , around the world, can use art and music to harness that instinctive and generous response to action, then Jean Cordey believes that global change on these issues can occur - and more quickly than any governmental bodies would be able to inspire. Don't you agree?

SO- if you know any children up to age 16, or know any teachers (of any subject) with access to students up to age 16, please encourage them to discuss the issue of child labour- its existence, its causes, its impact on the lives of these youth - and to check out the GenevaWorld website for more information on the type of art works being requested, as well as the address and instructions for mailing them.
And once all of the artworks have been submitted in March, and 1-2 have been selected from each country, culture, and age group for the exhibit locations in Geneva and elsewhere, then you are also invited to tell me/us of gifted young musicians whom you might know from each culture, as we begin to plan the cross-cultural music performances that will accompany these powerfully emotive artworks, wherever possible.

Have any of you been directly impacted by child labour issues or experiences, and in what country/culture? I know that we are certainly not immune to these challenges in North America, even if it is less prevalent, obvious, or accepted.

There is an increasing use of music or art as "therapy" to encourage and help people of all ages to express their subconscious feelings about an experience or situation. All art forms can provide a powerful outlet for non-verbal communication, without any need for special skills or years of training in order to benefit from the activity. Some of us probably respond more to music, and others to visual art, while others are helped more by dance and physical movement. General wisdom holds that music is a more "universal" language for use in therapy of this sort, but I am sure each of the art forms will have its supporters. Any thoughts or experiences you would like to share or discuss?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pomoja : Music in Action

Greetings! The word pomoja means "unity" or "together" in various African languages. I hope to create an online community that can be a pomoja (unity) amongst those of us- individuals, groups, and organisations, alike- who are working to make a difference in the world, while harnessing the power and unifying force of cross-cultural MUSIC to help achieve our goals.

Some of us may be educators, volunteers, or founders of NGOs; advocates for specific causes, diplomats, hospital care providers, or piano teachers; media producers, music composers or performers; staff members at non-profits or CEOs of new hybrid social ventures; donors, investors, and cultural travel enthusiasts....or simply avid music lovers!

I know that there are numerous websites or blogs that endeavor to provide information and inspiration to specific target groups, gather volunteers for a particular cause, or assist NGOs and foundations that are focused on a unique set of issues. And similarly, there are (almost literally!) innumerable websites featuring music of one type or another.

Nevertheless, musicians of all countries and all ages are looking for more opportunities where our hard-won skills can be used to help change people's lives; to know where we can volunteer time and talents to organisations that believe in the power and value of what we have to offer.

And those of us who are not musicians, but are looking for some uniquely potent ways to reach the hearts and minds of the individuals or groups whom we are trying to help, might be surprised to learn about the ways that music is currently being used as a critical tool in such important activities as conflict resolution, international relations, education (for all subjects and at all levels), cross-cultural diversity training, human rights issues and the UN Millennium Development Goals, gang prevention, music therapy for healing of refugees' name just a few examples!

The goal of this blog, therefore, is to create a worldwide online community that can share experiences, contacts, ideas, resources, and inspiration which we can in turn share with the world. I hope that this site can become a catalyst that will bring many different organisations, websites, and individuals together around the common interests of music and service:

"Music in Action"!

I look forward very much to hearing from all those whom I've already met during my global travels in this exciting work (some might call it a "mission"), but I am also eager to "meet" new friends from all cultures and continents who will hopefully contribute your comments to this blog so that we can share in your ideas, experiences, vision, contacts and life stories.

We are unified in the belief that we can achieve community and global change most effortlessly and powerfully through music, but we can only do it "together": Pomoja!