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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”