An Exploration of the Potential of Music in Juvenile Justice

Acting at the intersection between juvenile justice reform, youth development, and a sense of the civic mission of cultural organizations, Carnegie Hall, through its Musical Connections program of the Weill Music Institute, is collaborating with New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services, the Department of Probation, the Department of Education District 79, and other New York City agencies to think about how participatory music-centered programming can support young people who enter and exit the juvenile justice system. Since beginning the work in 2009, Carnegie Hall has sponsored ten creative projects: eight in secure detention facilities and two in non-secure detention settings, serving more than a hundred young people, plus audiences of staff, peers, and families. These residencies last two weeks on average and engage young people in songwriting, instrumental playing, producing, and performing. Each residency culminates in a concert for other residents and staff and the production of a CD. The purpose is not only to teach music or the possibility of ensemble work—it is to jump-start the sense of being a person with potential.

The following paper shares what Musical Connections has learned so far in this work by: 1) examining the history and current reforms in juvenile justice; 2) reviewing the underlying research and evaluations conducted by other musical projects both in adult and juvenile corrections; and 3) harvesting and reflecting on its own musical work in juvenile justice over the last three years.

Population of focus: Youth in juvenile justice

Link to resource: May the Songs I Have Written Speak for Me: An Exploration of the Potential of Music in Juvenile Justice

Organization: Weill Music Institute, Carnegie Hall

Date: 2012