In my life, music was more like a trusted friend, always by my side but also overlooked as I gravitated professionally toward other paths of service and social entrepreneurship such as helping to launch AmeriCorps and lead Social Venture Network. But in my early 30’s, I realized that my joy and impact in the world were limited because I wasn’t making music. Both music and service were meant to co-exist in my life. I committed to figuring out how. In 2003, I launched an indie record label called PeaceLabs Music for the purpose of recording and promoting music as a civic and social impact strategy. I wrote, produced and played full-time –struggling for years to pay rent and expenses. After completing my second album, and tiring of climbing walls in a crumbling industry, the idea of a “Musical Peace Corps” came to me. While I was surprised that such a program did not yet exist, I was also pleased to discover several examples of locally-based, innovative, music service models that would serve as fertile soil to grow a movement. In early 2007, I committed full-time to launching a Music National Service initiative that would aggregate, expand and increase the impact of music-based service. Since then, with the help of many friends, we’ve done national market research and needs assessments, built a multi-sector community of support and launched a new 501(c)3 (with governing board, by-laws, etc). We have also raised critical start-up funds. While program designs have evolved over the last two years, the key vision to ignite a civic music movement that gets things done in public schools and underserved communities has remained; and the need has been consistently re-enforced. This August, MNSi will launch MusicianCorps and MusicianMentors in the Bay Area and beyond. Over the next five years, as MNSi opens a new channel of service and civic engagement, we plan to hone our model, integrate other arts disciplines and expand globally.
Where can I get more information on your program. I've taught for 29 years in an urban district. We have not cut music programs for next year, but the future of education looks grim as budgets are being slashed everywhere.
I'd like to know if we can incorporate your ideas/program where needed in our schools or community anytime soon in Oklahoma. I love the concept of it and I'm sure there are retired teachers who would be interested in this.
Thanks for reaching out Kiff ! I really need to put more time in here, so many amazing people ! I see that this August, MNSi will launch MusicianCorps and MusicianMentors in the Bay Area. Do you have folks there in the Bay Area to document the launch ? I moved to New York last summer from the Bay Area & know some amazing photographers there that would be interested in connecting with you. Talk soon, Rameen
Kiff, where can I get more information regarding your efforts. Although my organization, The SMART Foundation, is located in Orange County I just attended a retreat Monterey sponsored by the CA Alliance for Arts Ed. Are you aware of their efforts supporting arts ed in the Bay Area?