Inmates Experience the Joy of Making Music

A group of 10 men from the Navigate Initiative Reintegration programme at Christchurch Men’s Prison, in New Zealand has performed as a group in front of a live audience of family, Pathway Trust staff and funders, and Corrections staff, for the first time.

The performers have been experiencing the joys of making music as part of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Community Engagement programme. Through the outreach programme, members of the CSO work alongside people from at risk communities to develop music skills, learn a series of instrumental and percussion pieces, and perform these as a group to an audience.

Despite being disrupted by COVID-19 lockdown at the prison and changes in the make up of the group, the men performed four musical pieces and two of the men read excerpts from their work in the Unit’s creative writing programme.

Assistant Prison Director Pablo Godoy says the men were all very nervous before the show.

“You can see the difference in the group as they develop, and how afterwards they are all abuzz with their accomplishment, the feedback from the audience and thinking about what they can do next,” says Pablo.

“This experience can be life changing for those involved as the men gain confidence, develop newfound music abilities and interests, and experience  an audience’s positive response to their endeavours. Through the programme, the men are really putting themselves out there, developing trust, relying on others and pulling together as a team. It can be quite personally challenging for them – and incredibly rewarding.”

The Navigate Initiative Reintegration Programme is an innovative community partnership with Corrections where Christchurch Men’s Prison has partnered with Pathway Trust, and through Pathway with a large number of community groups, to help men leaving prison after longer sentences to be better prepared and supported for their life after prison.

This is the third time the programme has been delivered at the prison and the CSO is currently working on a new music programme with a group of women, and mothers and their babies at Christchurch Women’s Prison, with a performance planned soon.