Beyond the corner: incorporating music into a juvenile detention center

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Bethany Shaune Uhler (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Alexander Ezerman

Abstract: Approximately 600,000 youth are detained in juvenile facilities annually (Ramirez, 2008) and 50%–80% reoffend following their release (Reed, Miller, & Novosel, 2017). The majority of these youth (70%) have experienced serious trauma and need rehabilitation to recover and learn pro-social skills. Among effective behavioral interventions, music may serve as a catalyst for personal and interpersonal development (Cohen, 2009; Hickey, 2018; Marcum, 2014). To explore the role music may play in rehabilitation, I developed a string program at a youth development center. The resulting qualitative study posed the question, what benefits, if any, are experienced by members of a string ensemble? Eight of Chatham Strings’ members, aged 13 to 17, volunteered to participate in this study. The demographics of the students were White female (1), Black female (3), Hispanic female (1), Black male (2), and White male (1). None of the students previously played a string instrument. The data for this study included interviews with youth in the program, facility staff members, and field notes. Four themes—Exposure and New Experiences, Pride and Recognition, Personal and Interpersonal Development, and Collaborating to Help Youth—emerged from the data analysis. The first theme documented the teens’ journey as they moved from resistance to participation and success in the string program. In the second theme the youth described: experiencing satisfaction in their success, realizing their potential to do something positive, receiving positive reinforcement from others, and making people they loved proud. In the third theme, youth reflected that participation in the string program improved emotional release, behavior regulation, frustration tolerance, time management, communication skills, and willingness to help others. The fourth theme, which was specific to staff participants, expressed that the string program contributed to the community effort of restorative justice. Implications for prison music programs are discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Arts in correctional system, Juvenile detention, Music in prison, Positive youth development, Social skills, String instrument programs
Music $x Instruction and study
Juvenile delinquents $x Rehabilitation $z United States
Juvenile detention

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