Music is the great equaliser. Music can influence social change. And over the years, music has been a powerful force and had great influence on worldwide movements, including fights for civil rights, world peace, and protection of our environment. The study of psychology has also taught us that music has the power to heal.
Knowing what a difference music can make and driven by a desire to help refugees, Philip Feinstein, musician and music teacher, devised a campaign to assist children and adults in detention by making music classes and jam sessions available to them.
The Music for Refugees project began in 2009 at the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney and, with support from the public, this initiative has grown and expanded to all detention centres throughout Australia.
The program is diverse and has included kids forming an impromptu orchestra playing kazoos, adult jam sessions with refugees from various countries learning songs from around the world and kids learning our national anthem which they sing for the adults and parents - an emotional performance.
"We are a giving nation and I am proud of the way the Australian public has helped with this mission," Philip Feinstein says.
To enable Music for Refugees to expand further, including on Manus Island, Christmas Island and Nauru, more musical instruments are needed. Any musical instrument that you're able to donate will help the program and will assist many refugees that are in our care to be entertained, learn new skills, relieve stress, build self-esteem and confidence in communicating with others.
If you have a spare musical instrument, whether it be an old piano, guitar, violin, recorder, drum, tambourine or other percussion instrument or, if you are a music teacher like Philip and are prepared to volunteer some of your time, take a look at the Music for Refugees website to see how you can get involved.
Drop-off points have been arranged all over Australia and can be located here.
In the words of Billy Joel, "… music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music." So, if you can help make a difference to the refugees in Australia, please sing out!
For more information about Music for Refugees, please visit the website.