Melting Prison Bars

André de Quadros and the impact of teaching prisoners to sing.

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Musical notes can melt prison bars. André de Quadros, a professor of music and music education, has seen it happen. And so have his students. De Quadros’s work leading multicultural and prison choirs around the world, from Thailand to the Palestinian territories, inspired Jamie Hillman (CFA’14) to bring the power of music into the Massachusetts prison system. Together this year, student and mentor started their days at MCI-Norfolk, a medium-security men’s prison. While the goal of the class was to cultivate an appreciation for music of diverse periods and styles, they also wanted to “provide an outlet for self-expression and discovery,” says de Quadros, and to “empower and validate” the participants. And apparently, it worked. One prisoner says the class “got us in touch with that which makes us fundamentally human.”