Cohen, M.L. (2012). Harmony within the walls: Perceptions of worthiness and competence in a community prison choir. International Journal of Music Education, 30(1), 46-55.
Author Affiliations: University of Iowa
Artforms: Choir, music, singing
Program: Community Member and Prison Choir
Program Description: Choir program met for twelve consecutive weeks and concluded with two community-prison performances in the prison gymnasium.
Program (Study) Location: Medium-security state prison, Midwest U.S.
Study Published: 2012
Participant Type: Adult male inmates aged 20-70, community singers aged 20-64
Sample Size: 44 (22 inmates and 22 community members)
Data Type: Mixed Method. Quantitative (Attitudes Toward Prisons Scale); and Qualitative (Open-ended questionnaire)
Evaluation Focus: This study measured changes in community singers’ attitudes toward inmates, and documented changes in inmate singers’ perceptions of their social competence (p. 46). Changes in community singers’ attitudes toward inmates, and changes in prison singers’ perceptions of their social competence were measured using the Attitudes Towards Prisoners Scale (ATPS) in pre and post participation measurements.
Summary of Impact: The pre and post measurements of the community singers’ attitudes towards inmates showed significant improvement. The data indicates that participation in the choir had a positive impact on the community members’ attitude toward the inmates, changing previously held stereotypes. Open-ended responses from inmates revealed they felt respected, made friends, increased connections outside the prison, and improved family relationships.
KEYWORDS: adult, choir, music, relationships, respect, self-esteem, self-gratification, medium-security prison, singing, social competence