Carol Forsloff — While politicians the world over make bold promises about uniting folks within their various countries or speak of their abilities to make better relationships with others, Philip Kaplan’s Fandalism is leading the way in doing what others have not. Music, as the universal language, is establishing bonds that go beyond local borders and human conflicts in ways that truly work toward making the world a better place.
As American politicians in 2012 prepare for a heavy Presidential campaign and international experts grapple with the internal wars and conflicts in countries around the world, Fandalism is making a difference in building relationships. How does that happen and what can governments and others learn from a music community that can enhance relationships in other ways?
Kaplan initiated Fandalism, a musical community website, approximately six months ago. His backgrounds in computer programming, business development, and music (he’s a drummer) provided the foundation for his putting together a unique site that was initiated as a Facebook application. But unlike the games and other activities on Facebook, Fandalism goes further than simply creating fun activities to encouraging new talent and supporting musicians in their collaboration efforts and their relationship-building. It is also truly democratic, as the master musician with a list of music credits starts like everyone else in securing a fan base and offering music others can appreciate or not. Popularity hinges on talent, relationship-building, and the belief that all musicians who are sharing their music are providing a personal gift to others. In this type of community, the 70-year-old country musician from the Southwest, who may have been closeted for years, makes friends with the 18-year old violinist in Asia with mutual appreciation and sharing.
Fandalism announces itself as a site for musicians, but it also has audience members who support and encourage the talent on the site. Two of these people, John Lunn and Suzanne Morgan, have fostered much of the cooperation and collaboration that has occurred. But the musicians interact in positive ways with each other, and that’s likely because Kaplan wisely set up his site to deflect the negative that occurs with many social media networks. As an example, the comment section clearly states that one should say something nice about the video or audio clip. This prompts people to think and act pleasantly and positively with their first response to musicians. It sets the stage for people to look for the good in each other. And that good is found easily, because many of the musicians are talented beyond the ordinary.
Cooperation, collaboration, and appreciation occur also among disparate groups and individuals who might otherwise neither find each other nor find areas of agreement for initiating a relationship. Music, however, does this. More than half a million members and counting consist of entertainers from every country on earth, including those places where there is serious conflict and war, such as Syria and parts of Africa. The musicians include classical masters and country music artists, the young and the old, guitars, violins, pianos and every form of musical instrument, and people of all races, nationalities and cultures, all figuratively joining hands with their music. And they are succeeding where the politicians and protest groups have failed.
Folks may speak randomly of music as a universal language, but Fandalism’s inner workings and philosophy go beyond that language to intrinsically establish human bonds that rise above the commonplace. It is also reviving old music while introducing the new in a listenable and enjoyable way.
While world leaders grapple with communication problems and conflicts and politicians squabble over their issues and other social media groups sometimes cater to the inane or the political argument, Fandalism is doing what others cannot in making people feel good and work together in developing something special. And for that, those who know it are grateful.