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Laura Hassler, Musicians Without Borders

PODCAST [22] Music as a tool to connect & heal – with Laura Hassler, Musicians Without Borders

In this episode, I’m talking with Laura Hassler, Founder and Director of Musicians Without Borders. It’s a charity based in Amsterdam that uses the power of music for peacebuilding and social change, particularly in areas of war and conflict.

There are many reasons why you’ll be interested in Musicians with Borders. From its early beginnings as a bus full of musicians bringing music to refugee camps and communities affected by the Balkan Wars, to its community music work in Palestine, Central Eastern Africa, Central America and Europe and training of music leaders. Laura herself has had a fascinating track record too, having been active in US civil rights and peace movements from an early age. She worked for social change organisations in the US and Europe before moving to the Netherlands to develop a career as a musician and link music to social causes.

You can listen now below, or on Spotify (search for the name) and iTunes or your favourite podcast app.

What’s in this episode?

We talk about:

  • Laura’s upbringing in New York as a child of peace and civil rights activists
  • How Musicians Without Borders began – in response to the Balkan Wars
  • Working with refugees in camps in the Netherlands, then taking the work to Bosnia
  • Music’s role in society and its power to build community and cross boundaries
  • Developing the work, and developing musicians for the work – MWB’s theory of change and its five principles
  • Adapting the work to context: from working with children affected by gang violence in El Salvador to training young people through an HIV clinic in Rwanda
  • The importance of safety and trust in any music work with people
  • How trauma impacts on the nervous system – and the importance of supporting music leaders’ own wellbeing
  • and we finish with Laura’s hopes and call to action for the world beyond the pandemic

Links for this episode

About the music for education & wellbeing podcast

Listen in each month to get ideas, inspiration and practical advice from people involved in music education, community music, music therapy and more. Learn how you can break down barriers to music, through communications, advocacy and inclusive practice.

The music for the podcast was created by Otis Hynds, a young person working with Noise Solution.


Music for Education & Wellbeing podcast [22] TRANSCRIPT: Laura Hassler

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