Children's Village: Teaching Responsibility to At-Risk Youth
Children's Village in Dobbs Ferry NY is a school/residential facility for at risk pre-teens and adolescent males. As part of the Westchester Philharmonic's Special Audiences program, MUSICWORKS was comissioned to work with non-musicians in weekly sessions over one month, culminating in a final concert. The results were "nothing short of spectacular", according to several long time teachers, many of whom noted a marked changed in student's disposition, behavior, and confidence.
By bringing the students--many of whom were subject to severe discipline problems--up close to the musicians and instruments, and immediately asking them to make choices about the direction of the music, trust and interested were engaged. As the group of performers discussed their roles, capabilities, and personal techniques with the students, they began to make choices about sounds, textures, solos, and emotional moods of the music. Throughout constant discussion and group editing, these original improvisations/compositions were honed to students specific tastes, and their satisfaction was evident.
During the final concerts (which lasted over an hour), the entire school witnessed the results. Musicians were dressed in formal attire, younger students danced and moved with the band, while older students actually conducted their own creations. More important than any specific musical technique or idea, was the overall pride and confidence felt by all involved, and the mutual respect forged between professional musicians and these 'at-risk' students.