The Outreach Principle

The philosophical foundation/pillar of the IMH is what is known as The Music Outreach Principle.  Based on an approach developed by our founder, John Diamond, M.D., it combines two natural human impulses: the making of music and the innate human quality of altruism.  It offers that music making is at its most healing when it is made with the explicit purpose of benefitting another.

It is not difficult to do begin to do this.  Take a song you know and sing it in your regular way.  Now sing the song again, this time consciously directing your energy to  another person and with the intention of making them feel better about life.  Engaging with them physically helps, eg, by making eye contact if you can.  Did you notice the difference between the two performances? When you really give out your musical energy to someone, the music suddenly acquires a depth, focus, and presence it didn’t before.  Before it was just music.  Now it is fulfilling its destiny. The first time it was like a bottle of medicine sitting on the shelf in the bathroom cabinet; the second it was as though the medicine was actually being administered to help someone.

The comparison is apt.  Music is indeed a form of healing, perhaps one of the most powerful we have.  But, like any healing, its potential is only realized when it is administered altruistically.

It is important to see the difference between music made with the outreach approach and regular music-making, for instance in a concert situation.  In a concert, the emphasis is the performer displaying his/her musical talents to the audience.  And while the performer may simultaneously be connecting with his audience, the focus is nevertheless on the quality of the music-making, not on that of the connection.  In a music outreach-type situation it is the other way round: the focus is on the quality of the connection itself, not on that of the music-making. Focusing on the connection in this way  transforms the act of music-making, giving it an extra dimension, a meaning it would otherwise lack.

The Music Outreach Principle is most obviously seen in our music outreach programs,  we incorporate it into all our work, including our Singing Songbirds community chorus, and even one-on-one instruction on an instrument.  And if you would like to understand its benefits when applied on a large scale in an educational setting, see here.