Musicians without Borders

Musicians without Borders (MwB) is one of the world’s pioneers in the power of divide, strengthen communities and heal the wounds of war. The organization was founded in 1999 by Laura Hassler, an American peace activist and musician. [1] MwB works with local organizations and musicians working to bring social change and peaceful, liveable conditions to their own communities. From their projects and programs, MwB has developed its training program, sharing skills and knowledge with musicians around the world, in support of their own work in their own communities.

Researchers who have studied MwB’s work have implied that such intercultural creative music practices can be adapted to further social justice commitment. [2] Today, MwB Engages with Universities, social activists and artists around the world: sharing expertise as they work to inspire and enable musicians around the globe to be advocates, activists, teachers, trainers, researchers and performers, together with the message: war divides , music connects.


Musicians without Borders started with music. On May 4, 1999, Laura Hassler Conducted a Concert in Her Hometown in the Netherlands. At the height of the war in Kosovo , Laura had decided to extend the tradition of remembrance of the second world war in the world. The performers are dedicated to their traditional Balkan songs-lullabies, love songs, songs of hope and mourning- to ordinary people everywhere, longing for the same things.

Moved by the concert’s message, the musicians, with the connecting power of music not only to the tragedy of war, but also to do something about it. That summer, they visited Kosovo refugees in the Netherlands, singing and playing songs, loved ones and loved ones, making music with children. A few months later, the group was in Sarajevo, Bosnia, performing and running music workshops with children in a refugee camp. In January 2000, they registered as a charitable foundation, under the name Musicians without Borders. A small office, a small network of musicians, a network of musicians, a new approach to peace building through music.

The organization is one of the leading organizations in the Balkans to produce music and lead workshops for children. Eventually, the organization moved its focus to training local people to lead music workshops, expanding to new regions. [3]

For several years, MwB collaborated with musicians and human rights organizations in the Balkans, sending groups of singers and players to perform in festivals, and offering music and dance workshops in schools, cultural centers and refugee camps in Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia. As the network grew, MwB organized conferences in Sarajevo and in Utrecht, bringing together musicians from eastern and western Europe, the Middle East and Cyprus to explore their common desire to use their music for peace and social change.

MwB’s first long-term project: Music Bus, a music project for children in the war-destroyed Srebrenica region in eastern Bosnia. From 2002 to 2011, The Music Bus brought music, dance and theater to children in Srebrenica and the towns and refugee camps in the wider region, while MwB trained local singers and dancers in its growing methodology of inclusive music making.

Gradually, MwB moved from festivals to long-term, locally based programs. An MwB team, invited to organize a festival in Mitrovica, Kosovo, responded to calls from local rock musicians, and the Mitrovica Rock School opened its doors in 2008. An invitation to a conference on nonviolence in Bethlehem, Palestine brought MwB to the Middle East to introduce its approach. Palestinians as community music leaders for children. 2010 saw an expansion to Central Eastern Africa, with the start of Rwanda Youth Music, and in 2013, a collaboration in Northern Ireland led to Music Bridge. In 2015, MwB launched Welcome Notes, supporting musicians in Europe wanting to respond to the arrival in Europe of people fleeing war.In 2017, a new collaboration brought to MwB to El Salvador to work with musicians and educators to help protect children from violence in partnership with UNICEF .


Mitrovica Rock School

In post-war Kosovo, Musicians without Borders created a platform where aspiring young stars meet across divides. The Mitrovica Rock School aims to restore the city’s shared rock music tradition and to encourage a culture of respect among youth through music. Mitrovica and the Remix Band Program for Ethnic Mixed Bands. [4] In 2013, the Rock School became an independent organization with its own management.

Palestine Community Music

Musicians without Borders offers uplifting, music-based activities to young people in Palestine. Their project is one of the most marginalized children of the West Bank. Their programs include Music and Nonviolence Leadership Training, Rap for Social Change, Music Workshops for Children, and the Musical Playground. With the Musical Playground, Musicians without Borders organizes musical workshops, including dancing, singing, rapping and body percussion, empowering and engaging children, school staff and families in a festive celebration. They work together with the organization Sounds of Palestine, a community music project based on the concept of El Sistema in Venezuela. [5]This concept uses as a medium to achieve long term social change for children and families in the world. [6]

Rwanda Youth Music

In Rwanda, MwB works in partnership with the medical organization WE-ACTx For Hope, supplier providing high quality clinical care, psychosocial support, poverty-mitigation, capacity-building and self-advocacy to women and children affected by HIV as a result of the Rwandan genocide . [7] MwB trains WE-ACT youth leaders to use music as a tool for social change, community building, and healing.

Since 2012, international and Rwandan trainers have facilitated the training of 80 Community Music Leaders in Rwanda, each receiving 116 hours of professional training. Training and support is provided in the training.The most appropriate and effective musical approaches are embedded in the WE-ACTx for Hope Clinical Support Structure, providing young people with opportunities for positive social expression and social empowerment musical interaction.

Music Bridge – Northern Ireland

The Music Bridge program is run by Culturlann Ui Chanain, an Irish language, arts and cultural organization in Derry-Londonderry . [8] MwB provides music workshop leadership training for community workers and musicians interested in developing meaningful projects in their communities with a focus on children and young people from fragile environments, and strengthening self-identity, peer relationships, and creative potential. The project also builds the capacity of local organizations to facilitate cross-community work, making a substantive contribution to peace-building and reconciliation efforts in the region. [9]

Welcome Notes – Europe

As refugees arrives in increasing numbers in the Netherlands, Musicians without Borders is building a program of support and solidarity. Our trainers and workshop leaders use the power of music in the United States, in the United States and elsewhere in the United States. MwB has trained musicians in the Netherlands, Italy and Germany to implement workshops in local refugee centers. [10]


MwB trains musicians with experience in social work and / or social activism who are interested in expanding their skills based on their working conditions and post-conflict regions. They offer an annual 6-day Training of Trainers in The Netherlands, focusing on training musicians to use music for social change and peace-building.

In partnership with various organizations and academic institutes, MwB offers advanced training that covers various aspects of their community music training curriculum:

– MwB offers an annual elective as part of the three-week “Conflict Transformation Across Cultures” race at SIT Graduate Institute , to train musicians and peacebuilders how to integrate social outreach for communities affected by war and other forms of violence. [11]

– At the annual SOAS summer music school, MwB runs a training and seminar program open to musicians and music researchers.


  1. Jump up^ “Industry Profile: Laura Hassler of Musicians Without Borders [INTERVIEW]” . hypebot . Retrieved 2017-07-12 .
  2. Jump up^ Burnhard, Pamela (2015). “The imperative of diverse and distinctive musical creatives as practices of social justice”. The Oxford Handbook of Social Justice in Music Education : 358-359.
  3. Jump up^ Hassler, Laura (2017). “Cello Lessons and Teargas: War, Peace and Music Education”. The Palgrave Handbook of Global Arts Education : 417-418.
  4. Jump up^ “MITROVICA ROCK SCHOOL” . . Retrieved 2017-07-12 .
  5. Jump up^ “Sounds of Palestine” About ” . Sounds of Palestine . Retrieved 2017-07-12 .
  6. Jump up^ “Sounds of Palestine” About ” . Sounds of Palestine . Retrieved 2017-07-12 .
  7. Jump up^ “WE-ACTx” About Us ” . . Retrieved 2017-07-12 .
  8. Jump up^ “History | Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin” . . Retrieved 2017-07-12 .
  9. Jump up^ “Music Bridge | Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin” . . Retrieved 2017-07-12 .
  10. Jump up^ “Musicians without Borders – War Divides, Music Connects” Programs ” . Musicians without Borders . Retrieved 2017-07-12 .
  11. Jump up^ “Teaching through trauma” . Devex . 2016-08-16 . Retrieved 2017-07-12 .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *