Ep. 129: How socially conscious musicians are bridging divides and healing the wounds of war; with Musicians Without Borders’ Laura Hassler

Healing the wounds of war

Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash

Musicians Without Borders brings music’s power for peacebuilding and social change to people and places affected by war, armed conflict, and displacement. Its founder, Laura Hassler, says, “Music is the ultimate expression of human connectivity.” Hear powerful personal stories of music literally opening borders!


Today’s guest is Laura Hassler, Founder and Director of Musicians Without Borders (MWB). Laura is joining me from The Netherlands (Amsterdam). Laura has spent her entire life as a social activist and musician. She moved to the Netherlands in 1977, where she further developed a career linking music to social causes. In 1999, Laura mobilized a network of socially conscious musicians to launch Musicians without Borders, which has become one of the world’s pioneers in the use of music to bridge divides, build community, and heal the wounds of war. 


We discuss:

  • What MWB is, and how it began.
  • An incredible first-hand story of music’s power to bridge divides and connect.
  • MWB develops localized approaches, built upon three pillars:
    1. Nonviolence
    2. The effect of music on our bodies
    3. 5 Working principles: Safety, Inclusion, Equality, Creativity, and Quality

Connect/Other Resources

Other episodes that you may enjoy:

  1. Ep. 14: The Healing Power of Music for Child Soldiers and Refugees: with Hollywood Music in Media Awards Nominee Samite Mulondo
  2. Ep. 20: Music Heals the Soul, with Music for the Soul founder & Dove Award winning songwriter Steve Siler
  3. Ep. 43: A combat veteran tells his story and shares how music is serving those who serve our country, with CreatiVets’ Richard Casper
  4. Ep. 47: In honor of George Floyd: The role of music in social justice; with Bruce Henry
  5. Ep. 84: Music’s redemptive & restorative power in prison environments, with Arts Capacity founder Holly Mulcahy
  6. Ep. 98: #BeyondMeToo, with Dr. Sandi Curtis, MT-BC, MTA
  7. Ep. 125: From Sandy Hook to a Valentine’s Day love letter to the planet, with trauma response art therapist & musician Nicole Porter Davis
  8. View all Category: Education & Community episodes

In-Episode Promo

This is a quick break to tell you about Songtrust. Did you know there is an estimated $250 million in unclaimed royalties?! Songtrust is the world’s largest royalty collection service – it helps artists know what royalties they’re owed, and collects them for you so that YOU, the artist, can focus on creating and producing—not administrating. With Songtrust, you can register your songs quickly, in ONE place. Songtrust will then collect all royalties you’re owed from over 50 global pay sources. Songtrust represents over 350,000 songwriters — this includes Grammy winners AND brand new, up-and-coming songwriters. Songtrust is currently offering Enhance Life with Music listeners 20% off your registration fee. Just use the code ENHANCELIFE20 at checkout. You can check them out at songtrust.com. While you’re there, you’ll see another reason I’m a fan – Songtrust is great at explaining the very complicated music publishing world! They offer a ton of free educational resources, including virtual workshops, a blog, and the Modern Guide to Music Publishing. Go to songtrust.com, and remember to use the code ENHANCELIFE20 to get 20% of your registration fee.


Laura shares a song and video collaboratively produced by the project Imagine.Imagine and MWB. Released on International Peace Day, September 21, 2020, it’s called ‘Walk With Me’ and expresses in music much of the spirit of MWB.

Closing Words

And that is a little bit of “Walk with Me.” You can view the full YouTube video in the show notes and, as you can imagine on a project like this, the visuals add so much to this powerful song; so treat yourself to viewing this music video! Thank you so much to Laura for sharing with us today, and for all you do to enhance lives with music. Laura DID send me the photo that she referenced at the beginning of our conversation – it’s the photo with the crossing guards in our opening story. That photo is in the show notes! My conversation with Laura actually took place before the war in Ukraine started; so the timing of the release of our conversation seems so timely and poignant in light of the millions of people who are currently being affected by war and displacement and trauma and loss.

I was so blessed to be able to attend a fundraiser concert last week for Ukrainian refugees. This concert was a joint venture between The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis and Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church, with performances by The Isles Ensemble. And my employer, Schmitt Music, was a sponsor of this event. Shoutout to all these amazing organizations! The concert was on a Sunday afternoon; by Tuesday, over $52,000 had been raised for Ukrainian refugees thru the concert, NOT including 200 online donations. Donations ARE still being accepted at www.loti.org. 100% of contributions go to Eastern Europe Crisis Response. You can also watch this concert online:

All links from today’s episode – including a transcript of this episode – can be found in the show notes; this is Ep. 129. Please excuse the appearance of my website – I am in the process of revamping it and it is still a bit of a construction site with not all links working. So bear with me. Hopefully all links will be properly operational soon. In the meantime, you can always reach me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 

Thanks so much for joining me today. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.

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