One of the things I love most about New York City is the eclectic range of subway musicians playing or singing their heart out for a quarter here, a quarter there.  I think this is why I’ve become so into Playing For Change.  The project not only gives an impressive look at the directors ability to sync up street musicians from around the world.  But, it also is a beautiful bridge to illustrate multi-culturalism, and how we’re all in it together.

The project isn’t completely new.  Bill Moyers sat down with the producer, Mark Johnson, last October.  The video was recently released on iTunes, and I can’t stop watching it.  You can watch it for free at
The Playing for Change Foundation does a lot of work promoting the fundamental values found in the documentary, as well as providing support to music programs around the world.  I’ve written about it before—and feel even stronger now—about how music is such a great example on the power of meta-messaging.  At the start of the Stand By Me cover song that the musicians from around the world perform, the street guitarist in Santa Monica begins preaching, as street musicians do, on the value of community.  And as the footage switches to musicians in New Orleans, San Paulo, Eastern Europe and South Africa, you begin to see the connectiveness they all share.

Music is truly a universal language.  Take a hundred trained musicians from around the world, who all speak in different tongues, and give them Mozart’s Requiem in D minor.  The result is a thing that speaks a message more beautiful than most sentences ever put on a page.  And when put in such a context as this, one can see how it tells a pretty remarkable story with only four chords.

In some ways, this mirrors what we often tell advocates when talking about leading with values and focusing on a narrative that helps build your own message.  It’s what comes before the words that often can resonate the most in a person’s heart, moving them toward change.  Perhaps, then, this is why music is such a part of any major cultural movement.  It is, in a sense, the narrative being played out, the handful of values that trigger emotions and lead to a shift in a person’s behavior and attitude.

So, next time you’re waiting on a train, throw a little change in that guitar case and listen for a few minutes.  What values are speaking within your own heart?  What change can you hear ringing out into the darkness of the tunnels?

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda’s blog.

0 0 votes
Article Rating