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Page 32

SPECIAL REPORT

Music’s Great Reformative Powers By Brian Berk Although the “power of love is a curious thing,” as Huey Lewis first sang in 1985, the power of music is not curious at all. Music serves as much more than just a way to help school-age children be part of a team and improve their math skills, although both are great benefits. And music certainly serves a greater purpose than being a fun outlet for weekend warriors. When one thinks of the connection between music and prison, classic songs like Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” or Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” may come to mind. But the connection runs deeper … much deeper. Music has magical powers. Think that’s a big stretch to say? This magic can be seen in music’s tremendous reformative powers for those currently in prison, those formerly inarcerated and perhaps even those who may commit future crimes. A fantastic example can be found today at the Iowa Medical Classification Center Correctional Facility, a large, medium-security prison in Coralville, Iowa, where the Oakdale Community Choir performs. Leading this prison program is Dr. Mary Cohen, associate professor and area head, music education, School of Music, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean Scholar, University of Iowa. “We aim to transform the broader public’s view toward more healing ways of dealing with conflict management, and to address the many injustices of the U.S. prison system,” Dr. Cohen told the Music & Sound Retailer. For two hours on Tuesday nights, the choir, featuring “outside singers” who are non-incarcerated volunteers and “inside singers” who are incarcerated, perform original songs, as well as popular hits like Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” in what many consider a lifealtering experience. Musical instruments are played as well. 32

JANUARY 2020

Profile for Music & Sound Retailer

Music & Sound Retailer January 2020, Vol 37 No 1  

In our NAMM Show Issue, we offer an exclusive interview with Bernie Williams, a look at the reformative powers of music, a special Q&A with...

Music & Sound Retailer January 2020, Vol 37 No 1  

In our NAMM Show Issue, we offer an exclusive interview with Bernie Williams, a look at the reformative powers of music, a special Q&A with...