Music Against Borders: Instrument donations for refugees

Colston Hall is to become a donation point for grassroots organisation Music Against Borders, who are collecting unwanted or unused musical instruments and distributing them amongst migrants in Calais, and enabling music making workshops within the migrant refugee camps.

Do you have a musical instrument gathering dust at home? You can donate your instruments at Colston Hall box office, Monday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm until 14th October.

Please read on for more information about what Music Against Borders are looking for, and how you can help even if you don’t have an instrument to donate.

“In the song I find my voice,

Hands held high with freedom and choice.”

Iraqi Women’s Song from the STARTTS music therapy project.

Music has the ability to empower and heal; it can be an expression of your history or an invocation of hope for your future. Alongside humanitarian efforts to provide shelter, warmth and food, it is the aim of Music Against Borders to provide opportunities to make music for migrant peoples in recognition of the fact that music provides a host of therapeutic, social, cultural and even economic benefits.

Music Against Borders are currently collecting musical instruments to take over to Calais and distribute to existing musicians on the camp and people who are interested in learning an instrument. In October they will be taking a convoy of multi-lingual musicians along with these instruments to put on and facilitate workshops including, amongst other things, drumming, singing, guitar and dance. They will also be engaging existing musicians in the camp to put on their own workshops, teaching the song and music of their homelands.

How you can help

If you have an unplayed instrument at home gathering dust please bring it along to Colston Hall Box Office before 14th October from 10am-6pm Monday – Saturday.

They are particularly looking for drums of the djembe and doumbek type, ukuleles and childrens’ instruments, alongside any instruments from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. However, all instruments are useful as they have a wide range of teachers that will be putting on a huge variety of workshops over the coming months.

If you don’t have have an instrument then there is a crowdfunding page for money donations to aid this initiative.

Music Against Borders will be filming and recording their October trip so please connect via their Facebook or Twitter for regular updates. 

If you are interested in getting involved in putting on workshops or working alongside MAB on our other projects please email

More Information about Music Against Borders

Music Against Borders is a grassroots organisation standing in solidarity with migrants all over the world. They say…

We intentionally use the term migrant to avoid creating a hierarchy of merit in relation to all those who undertake their human right of free movement. Rhetoric surrounding ‘good’ and ‘bad’ migrants seeks to divide populations and strengthen propaganda relating to immigration controls. A migrant is someone who moves from one place to another in pursuit of better living conditions or a job.

Music Against Borders recognises the importance of creativity and culture in empowering people. The borders we aim to traverse are not just physical sanctions placed on free movement, but social and cultural boundaries. It is human-to-human contact and cultural exchange that breaks down these borders and also has the potential to heal some of the damage caused by the traumatic experiences involved in the journeys of many migrants.

Instrument Donations

Through setting up regional donation points, people can donate their unwanted or un-needed musical instruments to help in the cause of migrant solidarity.

These instruments will be put to use in several ways:

  • Direct donation to migrants in Calais and other migrant camps throughout Europe
  • To support the initiation of a migrant’s orchestra project (see below for further details)
  • To donate to migrant musicians within the UK (or other country of donation)
  • To deliver music workshops alongside migrant populations

Migrant Orchestra Project

Due to the numbers of western classical instruments being donated to MAB, they aim to initiate a Migrant Orchestra Project. This must be done with a constant awareness of cultural exchange – this means that every orchestra session will also involve the performance and exchange of music from participants’ native cultures. Resistance of cultural hegemony and neo-colonialism is central to Music Against Border’s objectives.

Migrant Solidarity Musicians Network

Music Against Borders recognises that the struggles faced by migrants do not end just because they reach their intended destination. There are numerous systems and agencies that aim to police migration through enforced destitution and convoluted bureaucratic and legal procedures.

The Migrant Solidarity Musician’s Network will provide a database of musicians, teachers and venues that want to give their support to migrants. This may be through introducing them to their local music scene, giving workshops or providing a free space to put on gigs. This network will open up cultural exchange, enriching the music of all involved and provide valuable social, creative and economic opportunities to migrant people.

The network will be provided in a way that recognises a need for a high level of data protection and they will strive to work with established organisations to ensure that it can be accessed by migrants in a way that does not compromise their security.

Convoy to Calais, October 2015

This trip will take place over 5 – 7 days and will be used for several things:

Distribution of instruments – With careful consideration, MAB have decided the best way to distribute instruments is to hold a series of workshops/jam sessions over the course of the week and distribute instruments through those sessions. 

Workshops and Sessions – Music Against Borders will provide a space for workshop sessions and unstructured jams. This will either be alongside one of the agencies already on the ground in Calais or using a large tent.

Any musicians interested in getting involved in these sessions are encouraged to contact Music Against Borders to register their interest. Please email

For more info about Music Against Borders check out their Facebook or Twitter 

If you would like to help but do not have instruments to donate, then please visit their crowdfunding page here 

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