How One Instrument Can Change a Life: Africa

One of my friends is a missionary who travels to Africa. He had been telling me about how he always brings his guitar on mission trips, and about how all of the kids from the village love the instrument. They love to learn new chords and songs, and find so much joy from being able to play music. However, they are unable to have any instruments other than the ones they make, and after he leaves they are unable to play a guitar until he returns.

He was explaining this to my father, who suggested we send an instrument with him for the youth of the village to keep. I loved this idea, and so we donated a guitar to him to bring to Africa. He took it, and sent a picture to me of a whole group of kids crowded around the guitar. He told me about how a couple of the youth really took to the instrument, and were learning everything they could about it. Even months after he left, they were still emailing him asking for new chords, songs, or anything else they could learn. It was their first and only guitar, and they were so excited to be able to learn music whenever they want to.

Music is a huge part of every culture and it helps connect everyone. When we hear another person playing a song, we can feel the emotion they put behind it without ever understanding the exact words they are saying. I like to think that just like all words boil down to the same twenty-six letters, all of life’s experiences boil down to the same emotions. If we are able to tell our stories through these emotions, who knows how well we could communicate.

Most people don't think of music as a method of communication, but I believe that it is one of the best methods we have. Through music, we are able to make others feel what we are feeling, and do this in a safe way that promotes understanding. And when words break down, music can help us share what we are feeling.


How One Guitar Can Change A Life: Refugees

Recently, G4G visited a non-profit for teen refugees where they can receive help with tutoring, college applications, drivers ed, and much more called Legacy Mission Village. Many of the teen refugees have no one to help them with their college applications or school work. Many of them know little English when they start school in the US. They are placed in school based on their age, not how much prior schooling they received. Often, their parents do not know any English, and therefore, are unable to help them with their schoolwork. Programs like Legacy Mission Village help them thrive in their new life.

Music is meant to be felt. Many refugees come to the US with very little, but they are able to bring their voice and songs with them. Music has deep roots in their life and culture, and it can help them to learn, adjust to their new life, or just have fun.

Most of the teens in this program have an intense love for music. They have songs from their native country that they love to sing. Learning the guitar helps them connect with other teens their own age. After learning about their program and the teens' love for music, G4G decided to donate a couple guitars and a cajon. As soon as we brought in the guitars, the teens started jamming. Many of them have been playing for less that a year, but they have been able to pick up new songs quicker than anyone I have ever seen. It was amazing to see how much someone can love playing music. Most of their songs were in different languages, but everyone in the room was enamored by the joy you felt as they performed.

In Nashville (and anywhere, really) it can be easy to get caught up in playing music for some other personal benefit, but these teens play music just because they love it. They taught me how important it is to be grateful, and to be passionate about what you are doing. I was able to talk to one girl about how much she loves music, and how much she appreciates being able to use a guitar whenever she is at the teen program. Check out our Instagram (@guitars4gifts) for a video of the jam session!

Lastly, thank you to all of you for your support. We hope that you enjoy hearing stories about the power of music.