Juvenile Detention Center, Rome (ITA)

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The project in Summary

At the invitation of the Italian Ministry of Education, we worked together with young women in detention at Casal del Marmo in Rome. The objectives were acquisition of basic musical skills, awareness of expressive and creative opportunities through music, and the sharing of personal and collective experiences. Through the development of listening skills, rhythmic motor coordination, and the ability to play in an ensemble, participants improved their self-esteem and demonstrated the mutual respect and concentration required for successful group collaborations. 40 two-hour workshops occurred during seven months.



Twenty adolescent girls and young women attended. The workshops were led by two professional musicians, a percussionist and a singer.


Music was made with body percussion, with found objects such as garbage cans, broom sticks, and empty tomato cans, with a variety of percussion instruments, and by singing. The songs were selected by the participants, and singing would either be accompanied by percussion or in coordination with a CD or mp3 player.


Initial, basic rhythm games proved difficult and frustrating; the participants either did not possess good motor coordination, or could not remember and repeat the rhythms. Gradually they were able to execute the rhythms and play together as a group. Several developed good singing and ensemble skills.

There were many emotional and intimate moments, particularly if a melancholic song was played or sung. Some of the participants would cry, embrace, or caress each other.

Ultimately, the project helped develop musical skills, improve self-esteem, liberate emotions in constructive ways, and helped the young women relate positively to each other.