Engagement with our partners at Songs by Heart and Voices of Our City is a central aspect of this course. Although meeting remotely during the first summer of the course, members from both of these communities are joining us in class to share their experiences, lead interactive vocal activities, and answer student questions. We hope to have more robust collaborations in the Fall.

Songs by Heart is an engagement-centered program developed for Memory Care Communities in which a Professional Singer leads an interactive sing-along with Live Piano Accompaniment. The singers use therapeutic techniques such as mirroring, verbal and gestural prompting, making direct eye contact, and holding hands with residents throughout the program. Singers encourage residents to join in the singing, clapping, and dancing, as well as to engage in conversation centered around the musical selections.

(from the Songs by Heart Foundation website)

Voices of Our City Choir changes the experience and perception of homelessness, helping San Diego’s unsheltered neighbors reconnect with hope and housing through the healing power of music, individualized care, and advocacy.

Professional musicians, staff and volunteers provide a safe space each week for music making – this is their “outreach” without it feeling like outreach. They offer the unsheltered community the space and opportunity to connect with themselves through the healing power of group singing, songwriting and guitar workshops.

The choir members are invited to perform all around Southern California with an award winning live soul/jazz band each month. They have collaborated with major artists, the San Diego Symphony and have become an in demand professional performance ensemble with up to 7 performances in a single month. They have also brought their collective voice to local and regional government to inspire more compassionate policy measures that yield lasting results. Public speaking and live performing offer members an immediate opportunity to develop and professionalize their speaking and presentation skills. Their public presentations and concerts also offer the general population the opportunity to see that people experiencing homelessness are people – human beings with hopes and dreams – and how homelessness could happen to anyone.

(from the Voices of Our City website)