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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.