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Pay-It-Forward During The Holidays

The holidays are the perfect time for giving. And, as a musician, you have a beautiful gift to share with others. In the tumultuous times we live in, showing gratitude for what you have in the form of giving back does wonders for your heart and soul — not to mention those who are on the receiving end!

One artist who is committed to giving back is renowned violinist Joshua Bell. He is committed to breaking down barriers with music. He has donated his time to several charities over the years including The Painted Turtles — they raise money for children with serious medical conditions — Music Unites, and a benefit concert for Why Hunger. 

Closest to Bell’s heart is Education Through Music, Inc., which brings music education to inner-city schools with head-turning results. As he stated in a recent interview, “My big passion is getting kids involved in music, because I feel, it’s sadly, something that is being taken away from schools. Music is such a big part of culture, if the kids aren’t exposed to it, it’s not part of their education, like reading and math, which I think it should be.” 

Many musicians start their own foundations. The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation, started by the young violinist of the same name, is a charitable organization which provides funding for classical music education, research, performances, and artists. The foundation has several projects including an instrument loan program, grants for education and career, support of classical music programs in developing nations, and creation of a supplemental curriculum of music for strings by composers of African descent. 

Not in a position to start a foundation? – yet? You may one day, but for now you don’t have to be famous to give back during the holidays. There are many ways you can donate your talents to help others in your community – no matter what your skill level. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started. 


There are so many different ways you can share your gift with those who could use some uplifting holiday cheer. Local rest homes, assisted living facilities, retirement centers, hospices, and hospitals are a great place to spread some musical magic. Call the manager of one of the above in your local area and volunteer to play holiday tunes. Better yet — bring along your musician friends and singers as well! Be a strolling trio or quartet of joy to those who may not be able to get out and about much.  

You might also consider volunteering to play a local concert, parade, or talent show.  You can easily find what’s happening in your area via the internet or local paper. 


Many organizations, both nationally and locally, have fundraisers this time of year. Volunteer to play at or help promote one of these events. Or, produce a fundraiser yourself. Find a cause that resonates with you and get busy! Check at schools, churches and other fundraising organizations for volunteer opportunities. You have the resources to use your social network, family, and friends to help raise awareness for the charity of your choice. Facebook makes it easy to start a fundraiser, so do GoFundMe and Kickstarter. 

You can also host a private concert in your home with proceeds benefitting a local organization, such as food banks or soup kitchens. Speaking of soup kitchens, many local organizations prepare and serve meals to the poor or homeless on Christmas day. Wouldn’t they just love to hear your wonderful music while they dine? 

Get Organized

There are several steps you should follow to get ready for a holiday give-back. Check out our tips here on choosing a venue and date, making contact with local organizations, choosing a holiday song list, and getting others involved in your do-good schemes. 

Remember, it doesn’t have to be an elaborate show. You and a few of your friends can easily arrange to play holiday songs any place with just a little preparation. Not only will you gain performance skills, but you’ll also be spreading holiday happiness.


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