Youth at Risk

Children in Shelters for Victims of Domestic Violence

Since 2001 Music For All Seasons has provided regular programming for children in fourteen shelters for victims of domestic violence in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and California. These programs are funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and are designed to assist these young people in engaging with their peers in normal and healthy social interaction. Group music making is used as the primary method to break down barriers of fear and trauma built up over periods of psychological, and sometimes physical, abuse.

In 2006 Music For All Seasons undertook a three-year research project studying the effects of our programs on children living in shelters for victims of domestic violence. The research portion of this study was funded by Johnson & Johnson, through the Society for the Arts in Healthcare. The three-year findings showed strong statistical evidence of positive effects in a “negative dealings with other children” subscale of the evaluation tool.

Juvenile Detention Centers

This program, funded in part by the HEART Grant of Union County, NJ, provides programs for musicians to work interactively with small groups of young people incarcerated in Juvenile Detention Centers. For most of these students, these programs are their first exposure to many different styles of music and also their first opportunity to observe a live performance first-hand. Such experiences are very powerful and help the youngsters learn to respect and to interact with an artistic and educational experience that has not been a part of their lives until now. Education and a greater awareness of the arts helps to open a world of opportunities sometimes closed to youth raised in a violent and abusive environment. Fear creates violence; awareness creates understanding. This openness affects not only the young people, but the staff and the musicians themselves. Our musicians often tell us that these programs change the way they interact with their more traditional audiences.

Residential homes for foster children

Since 2001 Music For All Seasons has brought professional musicians presenting a variety of musical styles to the resident children of the Orangewood Children’s Home in California. The children at Orangewood are between the ages of two days and eighteen years, and they have been abused, abandoned or neglected. The children have often been the object of physical abuse, occasionally sexual abuse, and almost always, psychological and emotional trauma. Fifteen to twenty children are part of each group, and the programs are both educational and interactive, offering opportunities for the children to play instruments and to participate in group music making. We send a wide variety of experienced professional musicians to work with this population, representing a range of musical styles including popular, jazz, classical, and ethnic and including such instruments as keyboard, guitar, violin, viola, and hurdy-gurdy.

Voices of Empowerment

Our newest program for youth-at-risk, this innovative program was created with assistance from a past participant of our Voices of Valor program for veterans.  Voices of Empowerment is an eight-session program during which young people in a court-appointed residential facilty come together with two musician/facilitators and create and record a group song reflecting their experiences and hopes.  We are seeking funding to replicate this program in several facilities for youth-at-risk.