News / Arts & Entertainment

Music Combines with Public Service for Perfect Harmony

MusicianCorps founder Kiff Gallagher makes music with a patient at a San Francisco children's hospital. (Courtesy MusicianCorps)
MusicianCorps founder Kiff Gallagher makes music with a patient at a San Francisco children's hospital. (Courtesy MusicianCorps)
Jan Sluizer
Americans have been volunteering worldwide through the Peace Corps for more than 50 years. AmeriCorps, a domestic community development program, began 20 years ago.

More recently, deciding music and public service are natural partners, a man who helped lauch AmeriCorps created MusicianCorps, which recruits musicians and trains them as teachers and mentors.

"Music and arts more broadly are underutilized as a strategy for public good and social impact," said Kiff Gallagher. "And musicians and artists specifically, given the proper training and support, can be effective community leaders and be engaged in the civic social impact movement.”

As a young college graduate, Gallagher was part of the Clinton White House legislative team that created the community service program AmeriCorps. By night, he performed with a popular Washington, D.C. band.

LISTEN: Music Combines with Public Service for Perfect Harmony
Music Combines with Public Service for Perfect Harmonyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Five years ago, after successful careers as an executive at socially responsible businesses and as a singer-songwriter, Gallagher realized that his twin passions - service and music - could be used to help Americans in need.

“Recognizing that music had been cut from schools and there was more and more data coming out about music as an intervention for veterans and Alzheimer’s and autism," he said, "I just thought this is a no-brainer, why is there no MusicianCorps?”

So he started MusicianCorps where musicians ply their trade in urban school settings, children’s hospitals, and senior assisted-living homes, and they help organize community jam sessions open to all.

Gallagher says what sets MusicianCorps apart from other music programs - what makes it so powerful - is that it is participatory. He recalls a MusicianCorps session at a veterans’ hospital. Afterwards, he says, the veterans were less depressed, in less pain and more relaxed.
A veteran performs with MusicianCorps artist Laura Cambron on Veterans Day in 2010. (Courtesy MusicianCorps)A veteran performs with MusicianCorps artist Laura Cambron on Veterans Day in 2010. (Courtesy MusicianCorps)
“They’re making music. They’re playing drums, they are playing ukuleles, they are singing," he said. "So, it’s less about performance or traditional instruction and more about music-making. But again, in a veterans’ space, that’s not a musical outcome. That is a critical intervention that’s addressing one of the biggest problems we face right now in public health and that is veterans’ suicide.”

David Meletiche teaches an after-school guitar class in an Oakland neighborhood known for its high crime rate. Meletiche, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, was thrilled to be hired by MusicianCorps.

Not only did it give him a job in a tough economy, but also the chance to use the organizational and team-building skills he acquired in college that go beyond his musical training.

“I’ve been working in the not-for-profit youth development field for a few years, and I’ve found that this is one of the ones that’s most practical," Meletiche said. "That is to say, that we have stated goals and we achieve them.”

There are 12 high school students in his class, each learning to play on a donated guitar. Selena Makwan and Rajahn Blevins both say that, because of MusicianCorps, they want to stick with the instrument through high school and beyond.

“It’s fun because he really teaches you, and if you really love to learn, you’ll be really engaged in the guitar class,” Rajahn said.
MusicianCorps' David Meletiche works with Rajahn Blevins in his after-school guitar class. (Courtesy MusicianCorps)MusicianCorps' David Meletiche works with Rajahn Blevins in his after-school guitar class. (Courtesy MusicianCorps)
Selena agrees. "It definitely keeps me off the streets, because without this program I probably would be wandering around right now and I would not know what to do. And it also gives me an opportunity and chance to learn something I’ve never done before.”

With some 200 MusicianCorps artists in the program, Gallagher is still looking for more.

One way is through a campus initiative. Development coordinator Kelly McVey's job is to contact college music clubs, where students use their talents to improve the lives of others in their community.

“What we do is we put them in touch. We help them share best practices and we also provide a platform - The MC Campus Blog - for students to show what they are doing," McVey said. "We found that there’s no other organization that’s really providing a network for all of these disparate clubs to get in touch with each other.”

Twenty are now under the umbrella of MusicianCorps and more will be signed up soon.

With established programs in California and North Carolina, and others currently under discussion for New York, Maryland and Texas, Gallagher hopes MusicianCorps will continue to expand across America, raising dialogue and awareness about how music can help address the social ills facing the nation.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”