Good vibrations

Music for prisoners


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GB United Kingdom


About the project Edit

Good Vibrations is a UK registered charity that helps prisoners, patients in secure hospitals, ex-prisoners and others in the community to develop crucial life and work skills through participating in intensive Gamelan (Indonesian bronze percussion) courses. Since 2003, Good Vibrations has worked with more than 2000 participants in 30 different secure institutions. The Indonesian drums, xylophones, gongs and bamboo flutes they use are so alien to most inmates that they create a level playing field. The focus of the project was on assessing gamelan's effectiveness in helping prisoners develop key skills such as team-working, communication and concentration.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Good Vibrations is a creative way in which music is used to address prisoners’ rehabilitation issues. There is some evidence to suggest that over time, such therapy can help with the rehabilitation of prisoners. The project is an alternative to more traditional rehabilitation schemes for prisoners designed by psychologists, such as cognitive behavior therapy. Studies has shown that creative activities provide a vital bridge to learning more conventional skills like numeracy and literacy that help inmates cope when they get out of prison and also persuaded many prisoners to engage with further learning and education.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

The Good Vibrations workshops were successful in attracting prisoners with low levels of educational achievement, who had never done anything musical before and who had not previously taken part in prison education. Prison education staff judged the workshops to be extremely effective at developing participants' team-working, communication and listening skills. They also judged them to be more effective in building participants' self-confidence and self-esteem than other types of arts project. The workshops were also found to have a calming and stress-relieving effect on participants. The results of all these programmes are always extremely positive. By working together in a group situation participants develop key skills of co-operation and communication and boost their self-confidence and self-esteem. The programmes consistently attract people who have not participated before in prison education, and many of them are encouraged to go on and join other activities.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Five prisons participated in the origina j j
l pilot encompassing a range of regimes and categories of prisoner (a maximum security prison, two closed prisons, a semi-closed prison and a young offenders' institution). Since that time Good Vibrations has held workshops in prisons and Young Offender Institutions throughout the UK, including three secure hospitals. One prison, Peterborough, has bought its own gamelan and holds regular sessions there. The use of art for rehabilitation can be implemented in prisons in other countries.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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