• Evaluation and Assessment:
    External Evaluation

    These internal forms of documentation and evaluation help the program evolve quickly, but they do not answer the hard question: “So what?” What does all of this activity do—for individuals, for partner institutions, or for the city as a whole? This is the kind of bottom-line information that matters to

    • • senior staff
    • • development departments
    • • donors and funders
    • • other organizations engaged or interested in undertaking this work

    As a result, we have developed a several-tiered strategy for sharing evidence of the outcomes or the effectiveness of Musical Connections, with steps outlined below.

  • 1. Measuring the Scope—A Program Profile:

    Program staff at Carnegie Hall collect basic statistics on the scope of the Musical Connections work, such as

    • • the number and types of events
    • • the way these events spread out over the city
    • • the size of audiences
    • • the number and range of partners

    When meeting and planning with partners, the overall data can be tailored to the needs and interests of specific partners and supporters (for the Department of Child and Family Services, staff can produce a report of all the performances and residencies involving young people in the juvenile justice system, and so on). Over time, these data can create a strong record of sustained partnerships with specific venues and the department as a whole. This is a vital resource in a city where staff and programs change across administrations and in response to new demands.

    Download Spreadsheet: Statistical Analysis of Musical Connections

    2. Telling the Human Story—Case Studies:

    In order to build a deeper understanding of the possible effects of Musical Connections, we used our field notes, interviews, video recordings, and so on to generate a set of in-depth case studies. Each of these case studies included:

    What’s at Stake

    This background research delves into the wider context of the settings in which Musical Connections works best. For performances in correctional facilities, this involved investigating both broad issues in the US prison system as well as the issues specific to the New York City region. For the work at Jacobi Medical Center, we researched the disparities in access to health care that many Bronx residents face and what the hospital is doing to transform itself into a neighborhood resource for wellness and preventive care.

    What Happened

    This is the story of the residency or performance(s) at a given site, told with an emphasis on capturing where performers and audiences/participants connected through music. Here is where we made extensive use of personal interviews from artists and participants alike.

    Watch Video: Daniel Levy & David Broxton discuss how they connected through music

    This section also outlines what the immediate and longer-term effects of the program appear to be. For instance, the case study of Musical Connections at Sing Sing Correctional Facility suggests that through planning, set-up, and sitting in with artists, participating inmates spend a considerable number of hours in goal-directed, productive activities—hours that might otherwise be empty.

    The case studies conclude by raising questions for practice. For instance, given the success of songwriting programs for seniors, could some Musical Connections artists be trained to lead this kind of workshop? What kind of peer mentoring and professional development might it require?

    What Does This Mean for Practice?

    The depth of the case studies provides a powerful way to

    • • highlight the accomplishments of the work
    • • document the effects on participants, staff, musicians, and partners
    • • consider the next steps for the program—how to run it, who to partner with, and how to make it increasingly effective.

    The cases provide compelling documents to share with development officers, senior staff, and other organizations interested in the work. They can also launch planning conversations with partners because they highlight both accomplishments and next steps. Finally, they provide evaluators and staff with a growing understanding of the effects of the program on participants, staff, musicians, and partners.

    Larger Scale Data

    Currently our evaluation data is largely descriptive and exploratory. Some audiences may want harder evidence about the program. For example, a funder or government agency might want to know

    • • the measurable consequences for seniors who participate in songwriting workshops
    • • the observable differences in inmates’ behavior during the preparation for and execution of a performance
    • • what evidence there is that integrating music into the life of an urban hospital can make a difference

    This is currently a frontier for the evaluation work. We are considering

    • • whether the best use of program resources is to rely on existing research in the field (such as emerging findings from the field of creative aging)
    • • whether it makes sense to make a deeper investment in those settings where partners are set up to and invested in doing larger scale research
    • • whether it makes sense to wait until there is a national network of partners so that this kind of evidence could be developed collaboratively
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