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

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.

    New in Music Alley

    Beyond Category: Arturo Sandovali
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 02, 2016 3:53 PM
    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.

    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.