Here are some of the reflections and thoughts of students who have worked in the Musicambia program.

“We’ve all become close friends. And people don’t have friends [at Sing Sing], not really. Prison is a hard place, but for people who realize that the prison lifestyle isn’t something they want to bring back home—the music gives us hope.”

-Joe, Musicambia student

“The prison environment is very peculiar. To be able to come together and collaborate and work together and bring smiles to each other’s faces, it’s unlike anything else that goes on here . . . The musical community is so much better than the normal environment here—the drugs, the violence, the gangs . . . . It’s difficult to go back to your cell after a Musicambia day, a day that feels more ‘normal’ because you can have conversations and express yourself and feel supported and safe. We don’t do that anywhere else. Looking forward to Saturdays helps us all get through the week.”

 -Jason, Musicambia student

“I don’t just want to be the same old dad. I want to show my wife and kids that I’ve started over—I’m starting over with music. I’m a violist now. I’m excited to play for them and show them that I’ve learned something good from this experience. I feel awful when I think about all that I’ve lost—but it’s music that helps to keep me going. It’s keeping me sane in an insane world.”  

-Mike, Musicambia student

“It’s a real motivation and incentive to stay clean. It’s like we’re growing up all over again while we’re here, but this time we understand what can be taken away from us, and so we’re making better decisions. The program means so much to all of us, and it keeps us out of trouble. I’ve got 12 years left here, and that’s a long time. I don’t want to lose this. We come [to the Musicambia program] and we work and have a good time and share our feelings and express ourselves openly without being condemned or afraid. That doesn’t happen anywhere else here. And everyone else sees it now, too—they’re all asking how they can get in.”  

-Joe, Musicambia student

“Well, it was rough at first, with my neighbors. I practice every day after I get off work and all day on Saturdays, but when they heard how fast I got better and saw how far I’ve come—and realized that I’d never played before, that I’d just started from scratch through this program—they all want in now! And it’s been amazing for me, because I’m learning something and doing something with my time—I’m out in the yard less, so I stay out of trouble.”  

-Flaco, Musicambia student

“You get to try your hand at socializing during Musicambia—we don’t really socialize or build relationships here—but that’s what will save us when we get out. The music teaches us how to come together, how to work together. The relationships and the community teach us how to be a part of the world again.”  

-Jason, Musicambia student

“This program has been so amazing. It’s great to see the growth and change in the guys . . . the change in maturity. Men who used to be disheveled all the time are now well-kempt and responsible; men who would never have spoken to each other are coming out of their shells and helping each other and working together,” she says. “And their behavior is better now—they can’t screw up, and they know it. The program really helps us, too.”  

-Olga, Education Supervisor

“With all the awareness and movement around social justice today, we pause and we applaud those who every day raise their voices and pursue change.  While all of that occurs outside, please know, Right Now, that it is the heroic artists who venture inside each and every day to uplift and validate the men and women who today remain incarcerated. This work needs to happen Right Now, it is essential work, and the New York City Department of Correction is proud of our extraordinary partnership with Musicambia, clearly defining what a successful music education program needs to be inside all of our city jails.”

– Tommy Demenkoff, Director of Arts Education, Programs & Community Partnerships – New York City Department of Correction