The Weill Music Institute strives for excellence in all its programs, and each year many of its initiatives are examined using an assessment inquiry question. Successful assessments inform the planning of future seasons in ways that move a program forward and increase its ability to meet the needs of those served. It is particularly vital to assess a program in its pilot year, since tremendous growth often occurs. Additionally, when patterns of documentation are established early in the development of a program, this documentation is more likely to contribute to the growth of the program, as well as to its ability to be shared.
In 2009–2010, we asked ourselves a question: What are the actions staff members have taken to create successful events in Musical Connections settings? We had two primary goals in shaping that question:
To assess the program, our initial task was to document the daily work of Musical Connections to develop and share a deeper understanding of how the program plays out on the ground and what makes in more and less successful.
The devil is in the details. It does matter if there is a good microphone. It does make a big difference if all the musicians know the time for the rehearsal or concert. It is important to know the rules for interactions in a juvenile justice facility. Without that kind of precision, the excellence of Musical Connections would never make it through the first set. As a result, the Carnegie Hall staff have designed a thorough tracking process designed to help staff document what it takes to implement the program well and to develop more thorough and efficient ways of making a very complex program run smoothly.
Examples of these tools:Download Spreadsheet: Staff Assessment Tool Crossroads Download Spreadsheet: Staff Assessment Tool Crossroads: Manuel Download Spreadsheet: Staff Assessment Tool Crossroads: All
As program evaluators, our initial task was to document the daily work of Musical Connections to develop and share a deeper understanding of how the program plays out on the ground and what makes it more and less successful. To do this, we
From our experiences, we generated a set of field notes for each event, coded for items to think about and act on. We shared these notes with program staff and artists, inviting feedback and further thinking.
A major result was a summary, “What Works in Musical Connections,” that we shared with participating artists, asking them for reactions, extensions, and examples. Based on our “What Works” discussions, it was clear that quality in Musical Connections includes much more than technical musical ability. Across sites as varied as hospital corridors and auditoriums in maximum security prisons, successful Musical Connections artists
Download PDF: What Works in Musical Connections
Even with an emerging consensus on what works in Musical Connections, no one wants a one-size-fits-all approach to excellence. Quality looks, sounds, and feels different when a string quartet plays for a family in a critical care ward and when a world musician and her band play songs about love and freedom in a women’s prison. To spark and sustain these discussions, staff of Musical Connections are developing a set of exchanges between musicians and among staff and musicians to keep the discussion alive.
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