Calling all music lovers! If you’re thinking of volunteering or teaching abroad, why not combine two of your interests? There are plenty of places where music lovers can volunteer and immerse themselves in music of any genre. If you’re musically inclined, you could even volunteer as a music teacher or become involved with international music programs. If you’re not, that’s okay too! Music is very much a part of every culture, and by volunteering near a great music scene, you can get even more out of your experience.
If you aren't up for teaching music abroad, think about what kind of volunteer experience you’re looking for. Do you want to work with children? Animals? Nature? Would you like to aid community development, create sustainable environments, or join a research project? Once you have decided on your preferred type of volunteer work, see how that might fit in with your musical interests. Someone who likes dance music might not choose the same location as someone who likes country, so keep that in mind. Here are some top contenders to help you decide where you can make the most of your time as a volunteer teacher!
For music lovers with a laid-back vibe and a desire to do some good, why not volunteer in Jamaica? The music of Jamaica grew from a combination of the US, Africa, and the Caribbean, and complements the island lifestyle. Perhaps best known for reggae, you’ll also find calypso, ska, jazz, rocksteady, and dub. Volunteer in Jamaica for a chance to get to know the people and the music behind this little piece of paradise.
The United Kingdom
If you love music, it’s hard to ignore the UK. This is a country that has been producing infamous musicians and bands of all types for decades, and isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. Volunteer here for a chance to experience the lifestyle that inspired some of your favorite artists. Besides the home-grown musicians, the UK attracts artists from around the globe, ensuring that you’ll always be within easy access of whatever – or whoever – you most like to listen to.
If you’re into classical music, volunteering in Austria might be for you. Not only is Austria home to Salzburg, renowned for the Sound of Music, it's an opera lover’s dream. Every summer live operas are screened in front of the Vienna State opera building – for free. Austria also hosts annual music festivals like the Innsbruck Summer Festival and the Operafestival St. Margarethen, which is set in an old Roman quarry.
The great thing about music is that it transcends language; you don’t need to speak Spanish to dive into the Argentinean music scene. In Buenos Aires, you can find live music every night of the week, whether it’s jazz, traditional, or tango. Summer festivals attract bands from all genres, like Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, and Paul McCartney. For a true taste of Argentina, hit up a traditional music session, where musicians play instruments you never even knew existed.
Due to a mix of ethnic groups and its central position in West Africa, Ghana is a fusion point for music and a great volunteer destination for all music-lovers. You’ll probably hear Highlife, a musical genre made up of horns and guitars, which has its origins in Ghana. There’s also hip-life, a variation on hip-hop with Ghanaian flavor. The annual Ghana Music Week brings musicians, seminars, and concerts to Ghana, a country hoping to promote unity through music.
India is a country with a soundtrack all its own. Although Indian music might not be immediately pleasing to foreign ears, it is relentlessly upbeat and reflects the soul of the country. It has influenced musicians like the Beatles, and even musical genres like jazz. Music brings people together, and in India it is no different. Volunteering in India will give you the opportunity to see how the music of India is closely linked to its culture.
Something about those dark nights and harsh winters sparked music that made its way to the indie, pop, electronic, and folk charts. As Iceland grows in notoriety as a travel destination, its music does the same. Music festivals bring musicians from all over the world, as well as showcase Iceland’s own. Iceland’s volunteer opportunities are especially geared towards ecological conservation, so you can save the planet while indulging your love for music.
Japan tops the charts as the largest music market in the world, and most of those sales are of Japanese artists. Although pop music dominates the music scene in East Asia, traditional music is still widely played. J-pop, or Japanese pop is very popular, as well as K-pop (Korean pop) from its neighbor to the west. The music in Japan might not be for all music lovers, but Japan is undeniably a powerhouse when it comes to generating a cult following for pop music.
Australia might only have a population of 22 million but it has a wide variety of musical tastes. For country, check out Tamworth in New South Wales, the "Country Music Capital of Australia." Australia's beaches and sunny climate support many outdoor music festivals, including Homebake, an all-Australian music festival, and Laneway, an intimate gathering in Melbourne. Volunteer projects range from helping the environment, children, or the ocean, all within easy reach of great music.
Now we want to hear it from you – have you volunteered or taught in any music-loving countries? Which ones should be on this list?!
Music is very much a part of every culture, and by volunteering near a great music scene, you can get even more out of your experience.
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