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Music as a Global Resource: - International Council for Caring ...

Music as a Global Resource: - International Council for Caring ...

SECTION:

SECTION: Music for Sustainable Community Development COUNTRY: United States of America PROJECT: PROMOTING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN INMATES AND THE COMMUNITY: CHORAL SINGING AND SONGWRITING DESCRIPTION: This project works to bridge gaps in the justice system through music making. These gaps may be evident in strained and distrustful social relationships among prisoners or in the outside community‘s general lack of awareness of prisoners as individuals. Administered by the University of Iowa, community members (―outside‖ singers) come into the prison each Tuesday evening to rehearse with prisoners (―inside‖ singers) to form the full choir. Two themed concerts are performed in the prison each choral season. In addition to singing and performing together, the choir members participate in writing and songwriting activities. The writing component serves as a bridge between inside and outside members. Choristers have written five songs that have been performed in the concerts (―Crossroads,‖ ―In My Mother‘s Eyes,‖ ―Left Behind,‖ ―No Days Like the Holidays,‖ and ―May the Stars Remember Your Name‖). Although the lyrics of these songs are the lyricists‘ creations, other choir members relate to their meaning. For example, the lyricist of ―In My Mother‘s Eyes‖ reflects on his last interaction with his mother in the courtroom when he was sentenced to prison. These songs provide a means for self-expression and reflection on past and present life situations. The University of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Corrections have had various partnerships over the last 25 years. This present initiative, the Oakdale Community Choir (OCC), began in February 2009 as a collaboration between the University of Iowa and the Iowa Medical and Classification Center (IMCC) known as Oakdale Prison. The goals of this university-prison collaboration include the following: To embrace the joys of our hard work for a meaningful purpose, which in turn inspires motivation to participate in new endeavors To build companionship rooted in our sharing and responding to others To gain confidence that each one of us can contribute to a greater good both individually and collectively To learn to accept who we are as individuals and as a community To develop particular skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, social networking, and creative expression. Participants in the choir include (a) general population male offenders who are not restricted to their units at IMCC and (b) female and male community volunteers who have an interest in learning more about the prison system and being actively involved in prison education. These individuals are Iowa University students, faculty, staff, and other people in the community. Audience members at our performances include offenders at IMCC; staff and administration at IMCC; family members and friends of choir members; faculty members, staff, and students from the University of Iowa; crime victims; and others in the community. CURRENT STATUS: The choir rehearses and performs each fall and spring academic semester. In the summer inside 28

members participate in a songwriting class. At the present time members of the of the choral group are preparing their first official publication, a CD of original songs and an anthology of original writing. Proceeds from the sale of these items will be used for crime victims, charities of the prisoners‘ choices, and for funding the education program. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: http://www.uiowa.edu/~fyi/issues/issues2008_v45/04132009/photos/OakdaleCommunityChoir/i dex.html http://www.doc.state.ia.us/TrainingCenter/Newsletters/Journey-Winter2009.pdf Publications: Iowa Department of Corrections Victim and Restorative Justice Center Newsletter ―The Journey,‖ see article on pages 6-7. CONTACT INFORMATION: Orgainzation: The University of Iowa Address: 305S Communications Center, Iowa City, IA 52242-1795 Phone: 319-335-3030, Fax: 319-335-5608 Contact Person: Mary L. Cohen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Music Education Email: mary-cohen@uiowa.edu 29

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