Our mission is music that builds community.

Great Bend Center for Music designs and offers research-based programs that help people use music to find common cause, nourish trust, and address community challenges.

Music is a natural resource available to all communities that can aid everything from graduation rates to wellness outcomes for seniors.

These are the research-based, well-documented ways showing music to be a natural resource that builds:

Strong families

Making music builds the connections that nourish a sense of place. Decades of research shows that when you nurture this sense of belonging, mental and physical health, literacy levels, school success and employability improve.

Successful kids

Musical experiences like stopping and starting, slowing down and speeding up, and recognizing repeating patterns provide children with practice directing and modulating their behavior — and better prepares them to enter school and succeed.

A strong economy

Music is the most effective way to build connections in ways that improve the flow of information. Communities with higher levels of these bridging connections are not only more economically resilient, but faster at identifying and acting on new economic opportunities.

Healthier communities

Music speeds most forms of healing, and is an essential element of the gold standard in memory care. Communities with access to therapeutic music have better health and wellness outcomes across the board.

Music is also a natural resource that, in most communities, goes largely untapped. That’s what we want to change.

We’re here in Mason County, Washington, in part because of Union’s significance as the state’s first artist colony. But it’s more because this is the place our founder, Matthew Melendez, came to understand the unique challenges faced by those in rural communities, and how the arts might help.

Music is also a natural resource that, in most communities, goes largely untapped. That’s what we want to change.

We’re here in Mason County, Washington, in part because of Union’s significance as the state’s first artist colony. But it’s more because this is the place our founder, Matthew Melendez, came to understand the unique challenges faced by those in rural communities, and how the arts might help.

Our mission is music that builds community.

Great Bend Center for Music designs and offers research-based programs that help people use music to find common cause, nourish trust, and address community challenges.

Music is a natural resource that can aid everything from graduation rates to wellness outcomes for seniors.

Our work is to tap that natural resource for our own community in Mason County while helping others do the same. These are the research-based, well-documented ways that music can be used to build:

Strong families

Making music builds the connections that nourish a sense of place. Decades of research shows that when you nurture this sense of belonging, mental and physical health, literacy levels, school success and employability improve.

Successful kids

Musical experiences like stopping and starting, slowing down and speeding up, and recognizing repeating patterns provide children with practice directing and modulating their behavior — and better prepares them to enter school and succeed.

A strong economy

Music is the most effective way to build connections in ways that improve the flow of information. Communities with higher levels of these bridging connections are not only more economically resilient, but faster at identifying and acting on new economic opportunities.

Healthier communities

Music speeds most forms of healing, and is an essential element of the gold standard in memory care. Communities with access to therapeutic music have better health and wellness outcomes across the board.

Music is also a natural resource that, in most communities, goes largely untapped. That’s what we want to change.

We’re here in Mason County, Washington, in part because of Union’s significance as the state’s first artist colony. But it’s more because this is the place our founder, Matthew Melendez, came to understand the unique challenges faced by those in rural communities, and how the arts might help.

The Rural Blues

Community development is hard work.
It can be even harder in the country.

A group of young children participate in music class

The very fabric of community is woven from the network of connections between its members, and these connections are fundamentally more challenging for rural communities to steward. The density of urban and suburban living automatically generates more connections between community members.

This light familiarity between otherwise disconnected individuals increases awareness of shared goals and values, inspires greater tolerance, and promotes cooperation when needed. A sense of common cause amongst all members is exactly what a community needs to most effectively face a challenge.

And rural communities are facing a lot of challenges:

Economic challenges

In an increasingly global marketplace, rural workers and small businesses are facing more competition. At the same time, full access to these expanded markets is often throttled by urban-centric supply chains. This can make it even harder for natural resource communities to expand and diversify their economies.

Social challenges

While not garnering as many headlines as our big city neighbors, natural resource communities are on the front line of many of today’s complex social challenges. This means that in addition to trying to boost graduation rates and diversify our economies, our communities are also dealing with immigration tensions, addiction issues, chronic homelessness, and more. 

Sustainability challenges

Rural communities have a harder time attracting and keeping the creative class workers (healthcare, education and social service professionals in particular) that are increasingly important for long term health and live-ability. 

Pandemic challenges

In addition to the immediate difficulties posed by COVID-19, rural communities are likely to face additional challenges as our urban and suburban fellows re-evaluate their commitment to high density living.

Meet our people

Great Bend Center for Music’s staff and board of directors.

Learn more

Learn about our vision

Our vision is to establish the first institute for applied research on community music in North America.

Learn more

Meet our people

Learn more about Great Bend Center for Music’s staff and board of directors.

Learn about our vision

Our vision is to establish North America’s first institute for applied research in community music.

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