Don’t you just love (or possibly hate) the things we can do with language? A person can be arrested for possessing a minute amount of some recreational drug, get thrown into jail, and henceforth be known as a “hardened criminal.” Of course, to other people he might be known as Joe, or son, or daddy.
We do this all the time, but rather than focus on what we call people who are in prisons, I’d like to direct your attention to “Good Vibrations,” an education project featuring Javanese gamelan, (that) has taken place in different formats in a variety of prisons in England and Scotland since 2003. This is another DailyKos posting, and the gist of the article is that teaching inmates to play the gamelan is a useful intervention.
- It is quick and easy to learn the basics and a beginners group will quickly get good results.
- It provides an extremely accessible creative experience (and we believe that the opportunity for creative expression is essential for everyone).
- It is exceptionally communal: there is no overall leader or conductor, everyone’s contribution is equally important, you have to listen to everyone else to fit your part in; and to a large degree, the shape and content of a piece is determined by a group as it goes along.
- It is endlessly flexible: it is adaptable for all abilities even within the same group; there are countless routes for progression and development.
- It allows for real diversity: it brings people together from diverse groups and allows for diverse ideas and approaches.
- There is evidence that the sound of gongs and similar instruments is therapeutic.
- Playing Gamelan creates the state of “flow” (total absorption in a task, and the ongoing satisfaction and loss of self-consciousness that brings) which is essential to a person’s well-being.
- It is exceptionally communal,
- It allows for real diversity,
- It creates the state of flow, and
- It seem fun and live-affirming.
“If you’d like to hear some of their music, click here.