Listen for Life

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Travels with Music

Donna Stoering

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[MusicMessage collage]
MUSIC LEARNING: Listen for Life Arts Education Initiatives

Please consider making a donation to the
MusicMessage Campaign:

The MusicMessage Campaign

Listen for Life needs musicians to volunteer for the MusicMessage Campaign,
 to help Oakland schools!

In 2010 we held MusicMessage Assemblies in several Elementary Schools in Oakland, and this is an ongoing process -- so we are always in need of musicians willing to volunteer their time for a worthy cause.
Please contact [email protected] for details.

The background story:
Based on previous research, experience and successes, we are convinced that youth (particularly in younger grades) can be helped to discover that the music and lyrics they hear repeatedly will have a profound impact on their thoughts, their outlook, their cultural assumptions, and their resulting behavior with its subsequent impact on their community. [Recent examples of this fact are the statements made during the trial of the teenagers in the Richmond gang-rape of a high school student, the interviews with San Quentin prison inmates in the recent documentary “Through the Walls”  shown at the Oakland International Film Festival in late 2009, and the fact that in the post-election violence between tribes in Kenya, the youth were incited to burn their neighbor’s houses through rap songs and music-messages sent to them on their mobile phones]…..
If music can be used as a powerful weapon for inciting violence and negativity, then it has equal, if not greater, power for good – but that power and potential will remain largely untapped (at the conscious level) until we demonstrate the possibilities, and inspire the next generation to deliberately view (and use) music as a positive unifying force. What better place to start that campaign, than in the schools of Oakland, our organization’s headquarters?

The MusicMessage project is designed to have four principal components:
a)    through LfL-led school-wide assemblies that combine media examples (Travels with Music as positive example and age-appropriate segments from a few films showing an alternative result) and live interaction with visiting LfL master-musicians of all genres, we raise the students’ awareness of music’s effect on their thoughts/behavior, and its potential for both negative and positive consequences in the community
b)     in follow-up small-group sessions (either during school time or in after-school programs, depending on the wishes of each particular school) we facilitate/encourage each of the students to create their own music (with or without lyrics) so that they discover their own “voice” and expression in a positive way
c)    with the donated time of professional composers/arrangers and musicians, we arrange all of these melodies together into works that will be performed/shared by local youth choirs/orchestras/groups throughout their community, including potential city-wide events for Peace Day each year, in each city.
d)    each participating school will receive a site-license to TWM Series One as part of this program, so that this raised awareness and multicultural experience of a positive use of music can be continued, reinforced, and integrated in all core curriculum subjects and lesson plans.

We would be working directly with the students, impacting the future music-listening habits of all students from all grade levels/classes within each school. There is great enthusiasm for this project from the OUSD, and because of its potential to diminish violence and gang influence in the next generation, they are eager to have LFL ideally implement the program across all Oakland schools at all grade levels K-12, but we need major corporate partners, sponsorships, grants or private donations in order to do this campaign at that scale. So, for now we are starting with three K-8 schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas of the city. 

As with all of our projects and programs, LfL volunteers and teams in other locations, nation-wide and/or across the globe, are warmly invited to work with us, adapt our program outline, replicate the project and continue this very important campaign so that we can reach all communities, all schools, and all music listeners of the next generation.

At LfL we believe that this MusicMessage campaign in particular is our most important program of all, because it offers the best hope of reaching all youth in a positive way, helping them to discover that they have their own musical “voice” that will allow them to express their thoughts, goals and aspirations in a non-violent way, and inspiring them to see the ways that they can join together and change the world for good through the generous sharing and celebration of each other’s traditions, cultures, and music.