As the year comes to a close, we take a look at the ways one of our programs is making a direct impact on people in need. For professional musician Falu, working with the teens at Crossroads
Juvenile Detention Center as part of Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program was a rewarding experience. Below, discover some of the surprises she encountered along the way.
I'm often putting myself out there on stage—but singing can be vulnerable, and sharing lyrics is a very personal thing. To many people, the teens (ages 13 to 16) I've been working with might seem intimidating. But it took a lot of encouragement and patience to get them to share their musical ideas.
Once they got over being shy, though, music and lyrics just poured out of them, and their lyrical content was really astonishing. One girl sang "Free me up, I want to go home." Another wrote a song around the theme, "What could I be if ..." I was really moved by the songs they felt empowered to create.
The teens were very supportive of each other. If one girl was too shy to sing, another would sit next to her and offer to sing with her. The kids would share some melodies they'd been working on, then I would encourage them to build out their melodies and help them with their song structure. The collaboration was incredible.
On one of the workshop days, my producer told me one of the boys had some lyrics, but didn't feel he would be able to sing them because he couldn't come up with a melody. He seemed sad about this, and I tried to come up with a solution. Very gently, I asked him, "Do you mind if I try to sing your song?"
I wasn't sure what his reaction would be, but he was very open and said yes. I started singing. In just three minutes, I saw him transform before my eyes. He was happy that finally, his emotions were being represented—his voice was being heard. We got all the kids in the program to sing the song together and it sounded gorgeous. And the best part? He finally sang his song on his own!
The boy's joy was unbound—you don't even know. That's the amazing thing about music. No matter where people come from, we can connect on the deepest level.
Programs like Musical Connections give people in need a powerful way to express themselves. In the Crossroads workshop, we encouraged the participants to develop their
vocal skills, think creatively, and draw from their remarkable life experiences to create something positive.
Musical Connections has had a lasting impact on more than 8,000 people annually who have participated in the program,
which brings free interactive performances, creative
projects, and artist residencies to those in homeless
shelters, correctional facilities, senior-service organizations, and
healthcare settings. Help support music programs like
this one that have the power to inspire those
in need. Your gift will be matched if you donate now.These
performances do more than just improve quality of life: They inspire.
Your gift will help us continue these vital community programs, and
thanks to the generosity of an anonymous Carnegie Hall donor, you can
have twice the impact: Your tax-deductible gift will be matched one-to-one if made before midnight on December 31, 2011. Please consider a contribution as you celebrate a new year.