The Healing Power of Music—Violinist Etsuko Kimura

Music is not medicine, but can it help people heal? How? 

Music Without Borders is certainly a project that taps into the power of music to help others heal.

Listen to the story of Etsuko Kimura and her experiences with the healing power of music growing up. She is the Assistant Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. This is part of The Artist In Us Interview Series, a spinoff project that explores questions relating to the arts.

Introducing The Artist In Us Interviews!

The Artist In Us is an interview series that started last year, inspired by the 2007 social experiment with the world-renowned violinist playing incognito in the Washington Metro to "thunderous silence" and indifference. According to the Washington Post, which wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning article about this story, children were the only group of people who stopped and listened to Bell, while others just ignored him. 

Usually, people pay hundreds of dollars to go see Joshua Bell play, and when he returned to the Metro in 2014, the station was packed and the audience gave him a standing ovation. This raises some interesting questions. Why is it that in 2007 only a few people stopped to listen, even though Bell played as beautifully as usual and for free? Are we naturally attracted to beautiful music? Can we recognize its beauty even when it is least expected or seems ordinary? 

The Artist In Us Interviews ask these questions to various artists—amateurs, professionals, musicians, visual artists, storytellers and many others. We hope they help to generate discussions about the arts.

You can also find the interviews at theartistinus.com.

We Raised $15,000!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this campaign—volunteers, performers, sponsors, mentors, principals, teachers, friends and family! Together, we raised $15,000 in support of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders. Your generous support has encouraged all of us to believe in the power of our own actions and how each and every one of us can make a difference in the world!

Music and Humanitarianism

In his keynote address at the Music Without Borders 2016 Concert, Dr. James Orbinski’s explores the overlap between music and humanitarianism, and explains how each is an expression of commitment towards excellence, beauty, love, and a world without borders:

"There are many similarities between basic humanitarianism and the power, energy and vitality of music in what is so beautifully captured and presented here tonight... Deep in my own centre, I feel a common sense of unity between this idea and experience of music, and the experience of what I know to be humanitarianism...

At its root, humanitarianism is about entering into that space where you are in relationship to other human beings—where you see the other not as an object, not as a subject, but as a fellow being. And in that relationship, one acts where the other is unable to act for themselves. One acts in a manner that is very much focused on and very much seeks to relieve suffering. And so, in a certain way, it is a kind of relationship that is rooted in the best words that I can find to describe, it’s rooted in a kind of "being and becoming." Music very much comes from that same place of "being and becoming." The resonance of music, the sound of music, its reverberations, bring us into that relationship of "being and becoming." And music, in many ways, is a window into and an offering from that "being and becoming."

Performances

The 2016 Music Without Borders concert was a celebration of music from around the world, played by some of Canada's best youth musicians. The evening began with a fusion of traditional Indian Carnatic and Western music and a hand-drumming song sung by an all-Nations group, Red Rhythm. Bakudan Taiko ended the evening with its own offering of traditional drumming, this time from Japan. Ravel's bluesy violin sonata led into a thrilling scherzo for piano by Chopin, while David Popper's cello quartet was a celebration of the beautiful sound of that instrument. The virtuosic violin solo piece "Zigeunerweisen" or "Gypsy Airs" by Sarasate contrasted with a piano quartet playing a boisterous fantasy on themes from Bizet's "Carmen." The sound of jazz brought another dimension to the concert, culminating in an original composition played by the Carter Brodkorb Quartet. Three other original compositions were also featured, as soundtracks to the video "Let's Be Humanitarians" and as a Music Without Borders theme song that ended off the evening.

 

Classical Music

Jazz and Pop

Traditional and Fusion

Original Compositions

Food for Thought

Some of our conversations about what it means to be a humanitarian take a turn towards food, as sharing and giving food has often been part of what humanitarians do. After all, all humans need food. There are an infinite number of ways to prepare food, but here is a dessert that you may want to try…

Tiramisu

BVG Prep Contributing to Music Without Borders

Every Friday morning in February, many Bayview Glen Prep School students helped out with the Music Without Borders Hot Chocolate Sale to fundraise for Doctors Without Borders in support of their humanitarian efforts around the world. The sale was entirely student-run and engaged many different talents: some created posters, others came to school early to do set-up, while many others sang and busked to generate turn out. The BVG Prep Jazz Band lent its support to the final Hot Chocolate Sale and drew one of the biggest crowds, generating a real buzz for the 2016 Music Without Borders Campaign. All these efforts translate into a generous donation of nearly $300 towards MSF Canada. This is a fine example of how every dollar counts, and every small generous act goes towards making the world a better place!

Do Humanitarians Build Peace?

One idea about being a humanitarian that gets thrown around a lot is the work of peace building. As the following two posts—one about Youth Peacebuilders Network and one about Peace News Kids—indicate, peace building can start small.

 

Youth Peacebuilders Network

As part of my Grade 9 Leadership Class I took part in a YPN (Youth Peacebuilders Network) workshop. YPN is a network of youth who want to be actively changing social constructs within their neighbourhoods, communities, cities, nations and the world at large to create a more peaceful and unified planet. The daylong workshop was a chance to be introduced to YPN, its mission and values and be given the opportunities, skills and support to begin building peace. It was one of the most interesting and fun days of that school year. Right from the beginning of the day till the end, the environment of the workshop was very comfortable, casual and open. The activities were all mostly discussion based and interactive like games and skits. We were also given booklets with activities and materials for future use. The best part of the day was the fact that, because the setting was so open, many people felt comfortable sharing opinions or ideas. This allowed for a lot more positive brainstorming and interaction even when talking about opposing or controversial views.

Having a whole day dedicated to talking about and creating peace was extremely inspiring and we wanted to continue the work even after the day was over. To do this our class created multiple “Peace Projects,” which included spreading thoughts and actions of peace throughout our school community using cupcakes with positive messages and throughout the world with multiple YouTube videos. The videos are on the channel Possible Peace and we hope you will be inspired to spread peace in your own way! YPN was an eye opening experience and I wish all students could have the chance to participate one day. 

—by M.F.D.

 

What is Peace News Kids?

Hi! My name is Carmel.

I started Peace News Kids about a year ago. My sister and I created PNK because we felt that the news portrayed war-zones as...well, war-zones! They said that entire countries displayed violence to one another and loved fighting! Isn’t that crazy?! It isn’t in human nature to destroy other human beings. Yet, people unfortunately still do it.

It is impossible for an entire country to be “bad”. Even in the most violent areas, there are still signs of peace and hope. We created PNK because instead of telling everybody about how hopeless and bad war is, we want to tell people how there is hope. There are good people out there. Wherever there is war, there are also people trying to make things better. Since the news prefers to cover the negative things, we try to show people that there is a positive side. There is hope even in the most desperate of situations. At PNK we work to bring the good stuff into the light.

La Musique Sans Frontières

"La Musique Sans Frontières" was a jingle for the 2015 Music Without Borders Concert, performed and written by Jackson, Sophia, and Jack Lenz. They have expanded it into a song and will be performing it at the 2016 Concert.

Sing along with them at the 2016 Music Without Borders Concert! For sheet music and a demo recording, click here.

 

"La Musique Sans Frontières"

Lyrics by Sophia Lenz

Music by Jack Lenz

 

INTRO

Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo

Doo doo doo

Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo

Doo doo doo

 

CHORUS

La musique sans frontières

La musique sans frontières

La musique sans frontières

La musique sans frontières

 

VERSE ONE

In a world so divided

The job just doesn’t get done

With our backs turned to the helpless

We’re not helping anyone

 

Like a game of human chess

Where only lines and squares divide

Making those without a chance

To fight alone their lonely fight

 

PRE-CHORUS ONE

We’re all here to put an end 

To these old worn out ways

We’re giving all we’ve got

To bring the world a brighter day

a brighter day

a brighter day…oh!

 

CHORUS

La musique sans frontières

La musique sans frontières

La musique sans frontières

La musique sans frontières

 

VERSE TWO

Like the sun sheds its light

For all of us, for all to use

We’re breaking down all these walls

With one world and one view

 

With a force unstoppable

With a power invisible too

We’re the army of humanity

With the power of the youth

 

PRE-CHORUS TWO

We’re shakin’ up the system

We’re gonna make it move

Forget about the borders

We’ll dance and sing to just one tune

to just one tune

to just one tune…oh!

 

CHORUS

La musique sans frontières

La musique sans frontières

La musique sans frontières

La musique sans frontières

 

EXTRO (REPEAT AND FADE)

Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo

Doo doo doo

Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo

Doo doo doo

Truth-seeking and Reconciling through the Arts

Connecting our earlier blog “Should we be humanitarians?” to the story of Canada: the relationship between Canada and its aboriginal peoples is one of the biggest humanitarian challenges faced by Canadians. The historical displacement of numerous aboriginal children from their families through the residential school system is an example of that challenge. With the release of its Final Report in December 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada called on all of us to extend that formal process of truth seeking and reconciliation into our everyday life. At Music Without Borders, we believe a turn to the arts—just like the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s new production “Going Home Star”—is one way of creating connections and dialogue, and the future of reconciliation depends on the engagement of today’s youth in this process. At the upcoming Toronto Music Without Borders Concert, we will explore the art of drumming in First Nations and Japanese culture—their unique distinctions and common ground. Come join us and be part of this unifying experience at the Music Without Borders Concert on April 2, 2016!