Tips for using music to engage volunteers

Have you ever thought of using music to engage volunteers? Try these tips to get your meetings rocking and rolling.

Have you ever thought of using music to engage volunteers? According to Ashford University’s “How Does Music Affect Your Brain?,” one of the first things that happens when music enters our brains is the triggering of pleasure centers that release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy. Who doesn’t want to work with happy volunteers?

Music can be used in a variety of ways to engage volunteers. Michigan State University Extension suggests the following ways to use music to engage volunteers:

  • Play music when volunteers are arriving and leaving a meeting or workshop. Choose a fun and upbeat song to play on repeat, create your own play list or ask volunteers to submit their favorite songs.
  • Use music as a brain break to get things moving again during a meeting or program if things seem to heat up or stall out. Ask volunteers to stand up and walk around as music is playing.
  • Create a guessing game. Ask volunteers to submit their favorite songs to you. Create a play list of those songs and have the volunteers guess who submitted each song. This can be used as an ice breaker or a brain break.
  • Play music or sounds softly in the background of your meeting. There are several mindfulness or relaxation apps that have sounds you can play. Some may find this distracting and if it is, you can turn it off. However, others may find this invigorating. Give it a try and if it doesn’t work, that’s OK.
  • Play a game by guessing the artist. Create a play list of several artists and genres. As each song plays, see if volunteers can name the artist or group who recorded that music. This can be done individually or in pairs or groups.

As you choose songs or consider songs that volunteers submitted to you, be sure the music is free of inappropriate language and not offensive or oppressive to others. If you’re not sure where to get music from to play during a meeting or workshop, there are several apps that can help, such as Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, MoodFuse or SoundCloud.


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