Music in a Women’s Prison
In 2009 the educational service of Casa da Música (CM), the main concert hall in Porto, Portugal, started the program Casa vai a Casa. The program was aimed at communities that cannot attend the activities offered by its regular programming. The name of this program metaphorically plays with the word Casa that in the Portuguese language, according to the context, means either house or home. According to the nature of the visited institutions, the educational service promotes workshops with populations that have no access or limited access to a musical experience, including those in women’s and men’s prisons. This study takes place in a women’s prison in the context of a research protocol between CM and the Research Centre in Psychology of Music and Music Education (CIPEM) from the College of Education of the Polytechnic Institute. Borrowing a theoretical background from music psychology and educational research and within a qualitative research design that takes a feminist standpoint, data gathering involves participant observation, individual and focus groups interviews, life stories, and field notes. It questions to what extent the concepts of resilience and thriving through adversity may be understood while taking into account the main targets of the CM’s program: social inclusion, sense of community, and promotion of self-esteem. So far, this research addresses the workshops that took place in April/May 2011 over a period of three weekends culminating in a presentation for the families of the involved women’s prisoners, between January and May 2013, leading to a major concert in CM in the context of the 100 years celebration of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring as well as forthcoming interventions in 2014/2015. Ethical issues are crucial in this research. Concerned with giving voice to the people involved, the research approach acknowledges how participant lives are singular and fragile and is aware and sensitive to the potential for exposure to have a negative outcome. Considerations of people’s time, privacy, and safety are fundamental ethical concerns that inform the research relationships.
Research Team: Graça Mota, Graça Boal Palheiros
Funding Body: CIPEM
Period: April 2011 to September 2015
Keywords: music and social inclusion, music and emotion, music improvisation, resilience, women’s imprisonment