Music In World Cultures is a great organization doing ethnomusicology in various countries. They have curriculum through Liberty University. Start searching and you will find added resources and contacts.
Answer from Tom, who has served with Finishers Project in the US for six years.
“Music can bring people to God.”
Music is a universal language. Some years ago in Southeast Asia I saw God used it to reach an unreached people group and launch a multicultural church-planting effort. It started with music.
It was German short-term missionaries who noticed the people used a similar tune but with different words to greet them each time they visited a village. The musicians in the German group quickly learned the tune. Host interpreters explained that the words were an oral history of that village and people group.
A year later the team, with help from a Christian who knew the language, created Bible story lyrics for the tune. When they sang them in the language, people heard and wanted to know the God that the visitors knew! That’s how to use music in missions!
Answer from Kelly, who served in Southeast Asia and the US for twenty-six years with Sowers International, Literacy and Evangelism, and Pioneers.
“Yes. Doing it now!”
I was a developmental voice specialist for a symphony’s music education program for thirteen years before coming here to Haiti, where I use both my music and ministry training.
There is a great need here for professionals who have more than just talent, but training.
I remember the first concert we did here in the city. Over 1000 people came just to see and hear a violin. They had heard that we would have a violinist.
Now translate that into missions. Can musical expertise impact evangelism? Yes.
We collect used instruments which students basically have to do the best they can with if we can’t find a teacher. It is so sad to see patched instruments (two trumpets put together to make one etc).
Music touches hearts.
I would suggest taking a visit or two and seeing what could happen with your talents and training. I am constantly encouraging my musician friends to come work with our worship teams and choirs and students. They are the ones who become worship leaders here in the church. It’s important work.
Answer from Jan in Haiti, who served with Filipino ministry and Ebenezer Mission in the Philippines, US, and Haiti for 12 years.
“Engage people with music that speaks to their hearts.”
I am a graduate of Liberty University in Ethnomusicology and I am preparing to go to the field. I can tell you that music is at the heart of many cultures and it’s what we use to express ourselves to God. Helping that culture use its own music to worship God is what ethnodoxology is all about.
Take the Liberty courses and try a field experience with your missions agency. Many more with this calling are needed in South Asia, which is the least reached and most unengaged part of the world. Why not engage them with music that speaks to their hearts?
Answer from Bonnie, who has served short-term with several agencies in East Asia, South Asia, and Guatemala.
“Consider teaching music in an orphanage.”
We run a children’s home. We would love to have someone with a music background to teach the children to play an instrument. We have read that music will open up a child’s mind, give them self respect, and make them proud of their accomplishments. There are plenty of children’s homes/orphanages in the world. Your payment would be the face of a child all lit up with wonder at the music they are making.
Answer from Micky, who has served in South Africa for seven years.
“Music opens doors.”
I have been using music in missions for the past nine years and I have seen how music is an incredible door opener to talk to people about God. Music has massive influence throughout the world. If you are talented, people will listen to what you say because they like your music. Do you want to go to places where the gospel isn’t? Music can open the door for you.
There is growing interest in using music in missions including specialized training schools and ministries. Music changes people… it goes beyond words, beyond the language barrier, beyond culture… yet it communicates.
Answer from Mike in Australia, who has served with Youth With A Mission for nine years.
“Music can sustain you, bless your ministry team, and help you make friends.”
1. Your music can keep you going. Many a missionary has found music a great comfort and creative outlet, especially for those days when life is frustrating and nothing makes sense. It’s something familiar from home and can restore your sense of perspective and focus on the Lord.
2. Music can bless your ministry. Many mission teams rely on members with such abilities to help them worship together, assist and encourage the local Christian community, and lend their skills to local outreach efforts.
3. Music can make you friends. With or without a music degree or specialized training, simply being able to play an instrument or carry a tune may also help you make friends not only with other musicians but also with those who want to learn or who just enjoy being around the music. Ask God to make you a blessing and use your skills for his purposes!
Answer from AskAMissionary staff. Some people are full-time music missionaries – musicianaries! – but even if your job has nothing to do with music, you can use your music skills in ministry. The same is true for most any aspect of our backgrounds and training. A Christian with the gifts and skill to play an instrument well and/or sing has a tool to use for their own personal enrichment as well as leading and ministering to others.