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Yes, And. The Early Days Of A New Nonprofit

After a few performances in the prisons over the last two years, it became clear we were bringing an entirely new and important conversation to the forefront. The conversations were never planned out. They consisted of sharing some music with prisoners and listening to their impressions, opinions, and thoughts. Outcome and expectations instinctively followed Improv Rules, specifically “Stop planning the next thing you’re going to say and just listen to the person in front of you,” and “Yes, And.” The philosophy of Yes, And is where an idea builds incrementally using a … Continue Reading

Why Are You Here

Why Are You Here?

Sometimes the simplest of questions are the deepest. “Why are you here?” was asked at a prison recital last month. The prisoner wanted to know why performers would come to such a place when we could be anywhere else. But that question meant more to me than just why I would perform music in a prison. That question is a question any musician should be able to answer honestly at any point in their career. Why was I doing what I was doing, anyway. It is a question that forces one to … Continue Reading

Perspectives of Love and Hope

Perspectives of Love and Hope

It’s easy for me to write about my perspective during my performances in the prison. I share my point of view and snippets from prisoner surveys along with their quotes taken during our two-way discussions after each piece is performed. For the latest recital, I invited two composers and a few guests from the community to join me. I also asked a few of them to share their unique perspectives and thoughts to add a different vantage point: The surveys from the prisoners again and again revealed the importance and impact of … Continue Reading

Sharing Love and Hope Through Music

The first time I performed in prison we discovered prisoners put great value in sharing their opinions. They knew their thoughts would be shared directly with the composers of the works they heard and that made them feel like their opinions mattered. The second time I performed in prison we gained a deeper appreciation for the power of music, especially contemporary music. Hearing directly from the prisoners how new works evoked emotions and thoughts helped shape the planning for the third prison performance. The theme of the third performance was chosen by … Continue Reading

What Prisoners Taught Me About Music Appreciation Part 2

What Prisoners Taught Me About Music Appreciation, Part 2

If you were serving a long-term prison sentence right now, what words or images do you think would come to mind? After this most recent performance at Walker State Faith and Character Based Prison, I asked the prisoners to share two words or themes they wanted connected to the music for the next recital program. (I’ll reveal those later!) The words I had chosen for this recent recital were Space and Intent. I picked pieces that exposed elements of space, whether silences or long phrases, and pieces that captured various tones of … Continue Reading

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