Sarah Sherman Trains with Musicians Without Borders

Sarah Sherman, Immanuel’s Music Assistant for Children and Youth, will travel to Europe this summer to be trained by Musicians Without Borders. Musicians Without Borders uses the power of music to bridge divides, connect communities, and heal the wounds of war. Below, Sarah shares her inspiration and the journey ahead.

“The care of souls is the art of art” – Pope Gregory the Great

“Peace is an art. Not a science, but an art” – Thich Nhat Hanh  

I believe that the art of peace is the art of caring for souls, and I intend to study how music can help us accomplish this. For the months of July and August, I will be in Vienna, Austria and the Netherlands, to study German, singing, and attend a program run by the organization Musicians Without Borders to be trained as a community music facilitator. Musicians Without Borders in an organization which works in many parts of the world which experience chronic conflict, and with populations that have undergone traumatic experiences which rob them of humanity. They are in Palestine, Ireland, Kosovo, Germany and Rwanda, among other places. The non-profit is based in the Netherlands, and at the end of July I will be traveling up to Amsterdam to attend a training at the conservatory. Many times, when people think of community music and world peace, they think of people standing in a circle singing kumbaya.  I believe that peace is much more nuanced than that. It is not a condition that will ever fall, finally and absolutely, on our societies. There will always be conflict- individual, relational, and institutional- which rears its head. Then, what is peace? And how can it possibly continue to be sought in the face of all the conflict we see within us and around us? Peace is way of being, a way of living. It is present. I believe science and art to be almost identical, but as opposed to science, which we can discover and write down as a universal fact to be learned and known and applied, an artistic way of being is a way of deep listening in each unique, present moment. 

This is the important work of Musicians without Borders, and why I am going to their community music methodology training course. When we make music together, it is of course imperative for each person to play their differing, unique parts in order to provide rich harmony, and so the success of the entire endeavor depends upon showing up and listening deeply to one another. Creating music not only gives us skills to listen to each other, but also to express ourselves vulnerably and creatively and feel heard. In places like refugee camps, where millions of people live outside the structure, protection, and identity of a state, music can allow people to touch their own humanity and feel included in a purpose larger than themselves. In my own words, the work of MWB is basically to use music as a spiritual language and promote empathy, allowing us to touch what is most human beneath all dividing lines. I am super lucky and excited to be attending this training, and I am so excited to bring what I learn back to Immanuel!