History of Peace through Music International (Shropshire Music Foundation)
The Foundation’s inception began in 1999 when Los Angeles music teacher and composer Liz Shropshire was moved by the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo, where centuries-old ethnic conflicts erupted into a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Albanians, leaving 10,000 dead, 300,000 homeless and 1 million refugees.
Pictures of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo-- refugee camps, burned out homes, prisoners of war, mourning women, and traumatized children-- prompted Liz to undertake a brave and important project for the children of Kosovo.
Drawing on her advanced degrees in musical composition and twenty years' experience in music and education, she soon developed an innovative children’s music program in refugee camps, homeless shelters, and bombed-out schools.
Many of the children she worked with suffered from PTSD and other trauma-related symptoms. They acted out executions and other atrocities in their playtime and had little self-esteem. She taught the kids how to sing and play simple musical instruments—pennywhistles, drums, harmonicas. And then she trained local youth to teach the classes themselves.
This self-sustaining model was highly successful. The documented results of the program included significantly improved rates of secondary school completion and college attendance. Among Kosovo youth volunteers, for example, 100% completed primary and secondary school, as compared to fewer than 40% of children in Kosovo at large. More than 90% of SMF volunteers went on to attend college, as compared to 33% of high school graduates across Kosovo.
We have since brought this model to approximately 20,000 young people in war-affected communities around the world including:
Former child soldiers and teen mothers in Uganda
Segregated Catholic and Protestant children in Northern Ireland
Syrian, Afghan and Yazidi youth in refugee camps in Greece
Street children and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
Underserved children and refugees in Salt Lake City
Afghan refugees in Phoenix
Ukrainians living as refugees in Poland
During the pandemic we also served trauma-affected frontline healthcare workers and school teachers throughout the US
Accolades include the receipt of the 2017 Adolf Busch Award as an “organization using music to promote a more civil and just society.” Executive director Liz Shropshire also received the 2017 Brigham Young University Alumni Achievement Award for her "powerful and long-lasting contribution to children around the world."
In 2022, Shropshire Music Foundation changed its name to Peace through Music International. Although the Foundation has retained Shropshire Music Foundation as a legal name, it is doing business as Peace through Music International.