Welcome Notes

Around the world, wars and armed violence, climate devastation and poverty have resulted in a staggering number of displaced people.

Welcome Notes is Musicians Without Borders’ response to the arrival in Europe of people seeking safety from war, poverty and climate change. We began by training musicians in the Netherlands to work with vulnerable people in asylum centers, but soon expanded to include training and pilot projects in Germany, Italy, Greece and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

From single activities bringing joy to children in refugee centers, to longer-term social inclusion projects for newcomers, the program brings the connecting power of music to the complicated issues of displacement, reception and inclusion.

Rap projects

In collaboration with SOS Children’s Villages in Italy and Greece, Musicians Without Borders rap trainers Manu van Kersbergen and Guus van der Steen worked with unaccompanied minors, co-creating rap songs with young people to express their hopes and dreams for the future. In response to travel limitations due to the pandemic, Manu and Guus have created digital rap lessons, currently being trialed by two organizations working with vulnerable young people.

Music leadership training

We train musicians in inclusive music leadership approaches especially suited to working with vulnerable (young) people experiencing displacement. In Italy, Greece and Bosnia & Herzegovina, this has focused on work in refugee centers.

In Germany, our training programs in collaboration with Landesmusikakademie North Rhine Westphalia strengthen this center’s structural programs with local and newcomer musicians in support of social inclusion in the region.

Mobile music team

In Bosnia & Herzegovina, Musicians Without Borders works with local organizations, including Save the Children North West Balkans, to provide music activities to vulnerable refugee and host community children. Building on networks and expertise from earlier projects, we work with Bosnian musicians and trainers to expand this project to include a mobile team, capable of responding flexibly to needs and opportunities.

Laura Hassler

Program manager (interim)

Manu van Kersbergen

Rap trainer

Guus van der Steen

Rap trainer

Amanda Koser-Gillespie

Music leadership trainer

Darren Abrahams

Music leadership trainer

Juan David Garzon

Music leadership trainer

Marion Haak-Schulenburg

Music leadership trainer

Matthias Witt

Coordinator Landesmusikakademie NRW

Almerisa Delic

Trainer for Bosnia & Herzegovina team

Tony Pesikan

Trainer for Bosnia & Herzegovina team


Rap workshops in Athens refugee camps

December 13, 2019
Welcome Notes program manager Anna Swinkels wrote about her experiences during one of our workshops…

Established in

Active in
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Key partners
Landesmusikakademie NRW

Key numbers


music leaders trained


young displaced people reached