Playing music has a powerful impact on young minds and lives. Sonos Soundwaves is a new program that aims to support music education at a time when it’s needed most.


In 2016, Gary* entered an Atlanta recording studio and started laying down tracks. For a high school student, he created music with a decidedly grown-up feel, exploring the challenges of growing up in the city. Then, over the course of the next year, something changed. Gary’s lyrics became sharper and more rhetorically complex. More optimistic, even. The tracks he posted online went from 100 plays to 5,000. As the quality of his music improved, so did his grades.

Gary’s experience reveals not only his own talent and perseverance, but also the power of music education in transforming lives. Every day, music helps youth close achievement gaps and improve their learning. It also brings the social benefit of collaborating with others to make something meaningful.

“There are dozens of reports that clearly demonstrate the positive influence making music has on the brain,” writes Erik Scherder, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at Vrije Universiteit in a profile of the Dutch nonprofit Leerorkest. “It produces impulses in many areas of the musician’s brain: aural, visual, motor function and emotional.”

“Playing music produces impulses in many areas of the musician’s brain: aural, visual, motor function and emotional.”

For Gary, this science-backed magic of music creation came alive every time he stepped into the recording booth. But it wasn’t your typical professional studio. It was built by a nonprofit called Notes for Notes to support young, aspiring artists like Gary who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the creative tools they need to express themselves.

Notes for Notes is just one of the organizations we’re partnering with under Sonos Soundwaves, a new initiative that aims to change young lives through the power of music education. Through Sonos Soundwaves, we’ll partner with local music education-focused nonprofits to help provide children in need with opportunities to think creatively, raise academic achievement, develop social skills, and prepare for successful futures. We’ll do so through a combination of financial grants, product donations, and our employees’ volunteer time, with the ultimate goal of providing 100,000 hours of quality music education to youth worldwide.

We spent the last year listening to nonprofits around the world to find out how we could make the most meaningful difference with our social impact efforts. And we also consulted with our own employees, the engine of our organization. The response was overwhelming: Sonos should support music education.

Our founding partners for Sonos Soundwaves all bring unique perspectives to music education, deeply rooted in their communities with a strong record of success. They are Notes for Notes, Zumix, Leerorkest, and United Borders, with more partnerships to be announced soon. Each dynamic organization works with underserved communities, including women, girls, and immigrant groups. We’re looking forward to supporting the work of these organizations and forging more partnerships soon.

As for Gary, he now records almost nonstop, ducking into the music studio after school and continuing to write music over the weekends on his laptop. We won’t be surprised if we start hearing a lot more from him soon.


*The artist’s name has been changed for the purposes of this story.

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