Alina Bloomgarden, founder and director of the arts program Music On The Inside (MOTI) said: amnews In a recent interview, she said it was jazz great Louis Armstrong himself who inspired her to start programming. She first learned that when he was a child, Colored His Wife’s Home He spent his childhood at the Four Boys when he was producing a show about the music legend at her Lincoln Center. The boy, who was 11 at the time, was reportedly sent to a reformed school for shooting six shots out of his stepfather’s .38 revolver at a New Year’s Eve parade. “They had a music teacher and a band, and he already loved music, but it was the first serious musical education he had,” she said.
The revelation put her on pause. “I asked myself, ‘What are we doing today for incarcerated youth and adults?’ Because I know how music can heal.”
It took Bloomgarden another year to ruminate on the subject before finally coming up with the idea of MOTI, a program that takes musicians to prison as teachers and mentors.Founding Jazz at Lincoln Center As a person, Bloomgarden had many contacts, and she asked for help with the idea. She said, “I know many jazz musicians, and over the years many musicians in general have shown a great deal of empathy and desire to help those affected by incarceration. I learned.”
This organization was launched in December 2015.
Interestingly, Bloomgarden is not a musician himself, but has spent most of his life a lover of music, especially jazz. Her enthusiasm for the genre, along with her exposure to musician Barry Harris’ historic jazz cultural theater, led to the creation of Jazz at Lincoln Center. You will feel the healing quality. [at Jazz Cultural Theatre] And it moved me a lot. I later wrote a proposal that I thought jazz had its rightful place in America’s preeminent performing arts center. ”
After four years of trial and error, Nat Leventhal, then president of Lincoln Center, finally gave her the go-ahead. Jazz at Lincoln Center was founded in 1987 and opened at the Time Warner Center in 2004.
According to Bloomgarden, MOTI was “a great experience for me.” The program works with adults and some young people at facilities in New York State, such as Rikers Island and Greensboro Correctional Facility, and is expanding to other states. “We already have talent in Philadelphia and are working to develop some people from Georgia,” Bloomgarden said.
The main focus is music instruction. “We match adults and young people who have served years, sometimes decades, in prison and made themselves alive through music, one-on-one with musicians who play their instruments.” Mentors and Mentee Meetings between are not only held face-to-face, but also virtually. Mentors include renowned musicians such as Arturo O’Farrill, Don Braden and Peter Malinverni.
The program consists of six-week “terms” that culminate in musical performances.
What is special and necessary for Bloomgarden is its departure from traditional notions of what it takes for those who are or have been imprisoned to finally reintegrate into society. “The main focus seems to be on jobs and housing,” she said. “But we feel people need to feel equal and feel good about themselves again. [creating] Equal to others than music. ”
One of MOTI’s mentees is Chontay Smith, who has worked at Eastern and Green Haven Correctional Facilities for more than 20 years. Smith, a pianist who has been in the mentorship program for the past year, said he also looks to Louis Armstring for inspiration. “His story is very similar to mine in that he finds himself through instruments, music and art.”
According to Bloomgarden, “Chongtai is a very naturally talented and passionate person in music, but he never had a real education.” MOTI partnered him with jazz pianist Peter Marinverni. . “Peter has given him real skill and real teaching when it comes to how to practice and understand music theory.”
While incarcerated, Smith used paper to create keyboards and remember the music he heard at prison services. He then went back and “played” on a makeshift keyboard. After getting out of prison, MOTI helped him hone these skills. “They provided me with mentors and coaches and helped me develop everything that was in me musically,” he said. amnews.
Smith also said MOTI offers rewards beyond rigorous music training. “There is an aspect of leadership that they really helped me become a better leader and find myself through music. They helped me develop my reputation and my talents beyond my past, they gave me a better and brighter future that I could not have had otherwise. They provided me. They made the impossible possible for me.”