Playing for Change

Playing for Change

Playing for Change (PFC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 by Mark Johnson, a producer and Grammy-winning engineer and award-winning film director, and Whitney Kroenke, a continuing advocate and participant in the arts.

I became interested in PFC through my Health in Developing Countries class, HE-375, taught by Chris Hirschler, Ph.D. associate professor of health and education.

PFC has generated a lot of attention as countless musicians around the world are presently involved including celebrities such as Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), Bono (U2), and Sara Bareilles.

In 2005, a small filmmaking crew crafted a mobile recording studio and traveled around the world filming musicians on the streets in which they lived.

Later, the sound was mixed and despite the fact that the musicians never were in the same room or let alone on the same continent, musicians were united through music with each giving their different gifts to the compilation album.

Technology has permitted the birth and growth of Playing for Change. Joe Rapolla, Chair of the Music and Theatre Department, indicated, “Playing for Change is another example of how music and art can connect culture and impact societal change. Music is embedded in our DNA.

It is the common thread that runs through us all,” he said. “With the technology available today, it is possible for music to easily cut across geographic barriers and intertwine our inherent need to create and share.”

The Songs Around the World album inspired the co-founders to bring together several of the greatest musicians they met throughout their journey and create the Playing for Change Band. This album allowed musicians coming from different cultures to speak the same language through music. The PFC Band is currently touring the world and spreading hope and love to listeners everywhere.

Katarena Brannick, a sophomore business administration student, expressed, “The Playing for Change Charity is a creative way to encourage people to engage in music on the streets to spread not only beautiful sounds, but joy in the world.”

Listen to the Music is Playing for Change’s most recent album containing twelve new Songs Around the World and featuring 200 musicians from 25 distinct countries. The anticipated album will be released on April 20 with a new video from the series dropping each month.

Fifteen music programs have been formed across eleven countries including Brazil, Bangladesh, Mali, and Ghana through PFC. Over 2,000 young people attend free classes for instruments such as the kpanlogo and the xylophone, along with dance and musical theory classes that are taught by experienced local teachers.

Projects help meet the basic needs of the larger community as well, comprising the providing of aid like clean water, food, clothes, medicine, school supplies, solar energy, and other up-to-date technology.

Perhaps more impressive is that over 15,000 individuals have been assisted by the foundation’s efforts in their program areas and beyond.

Yearly program evaluations emphasize the positive impact of music education especially when kids play music with one another and collaborate.

More importantly, it is crucial for children affected by poverty, neglect, drugs, and other conflicts to learn that music nurtures joy and escalates self-esteem.

Sydney Lucas, a junior biology student, stated, “I think Playing for Change is a good organization that encourages creativity and self-expression in children by connecting to people across the globe through a shared love of music and arts.”

Donating to the Playing for Change Foundation is a simple process and 20 percent of all profits from each PFC Membership and their shop goes towards the foundation to pay for music education.

It is possible to either donate any amount once on the donate section of PFC’s website by credit card, PayPal, or by check, or any amount monthly by credit card. One can also support a specific program such as the Musica Music Institute in Nepal and donate any amount by credit card.

One can become more involved in the support of Playing for Change as well and host an event or a concert as a fundraiser and information on how to do so is located on the participate section of the PFC website.

Lastly, one has the opportunity to immerse oneself in PFC’s global music community by becoming a PFC member for just $50 a year and get perks such as access to exclusive content, a 25 percent discount on the PFC Shop, and most excitingly a digital download of their new album.

Becoming involved in Playing for Change will surely change your life, because as Alexa Rutigliano, a senior psychology student, said: “Music–not money–makes the world go ‘round.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Gabrielle Cevallos