For a musician, saying you’ve played at Carnegie Hall might just be one of the “ultimate badges of musical honor” (Tsioulcas, 2012). One of the most prominent and celebrated venues in the world, to say that you have played at Carnegie Hall, is the equivalent of saying you’ve “arrived” as a performer.
On October 1st, Jeffrey and Kadeidra, two young adults from The Center for Discovery, arrived.
And arrive they did! As part of a small vocal group, they got to share the stage with greats, from both the stage and screen. Legends Chita Rivera and Ben Vereen. Broadway and cabaret luminaries Liz Callaway, Jim Caruso, Charlotte d’Amboise, Melissa Errico, Seth Rudetsky, Joan Ryan, Ali Stroker and Billy Stritch. Dancer and singer Evan Ruggiero. Oscar winner J.K. Simmons and television star Michael Weatherly. They all performed on stage at Carnegie Hall as part of a one-night benefit for Shane’s Inspiration, a nonprofit organization that builds fully inclusive playgrounds around the world.
Jeffrey and Kadeidra’s journey to Carnegie Hall can be traced back many years when they first began in Music Therapy at The Center for Discovery. Just young children at the time, they attended Music Therapy to broaden and strengthen their social interactions through creative, musical play. As they got older, they expressed an interest in singing in a choir and just like that, The Center for Discovery’s Choir was borne. Their commitment to the choir was easily witnessed in their dedication to learning proper vocal technique, practicing their music, and developing musical competence.
And then they started performing. What began as small, in school concerts, evolved into performances within the community – first in the lobby of the Sullivan County Government Center as part of a holiday lunch ‘n listen series, and then as part of an acapella festival at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Performing has provided Jeffrey and Kadeidra with the opportunity to not only develop confidence in themselves, but also connect with their community in a meaningful way. It should also be noted that as performers, Jeffrey and Kadeidra are active in The Center’s dance and dramatic arts programs. Certainly, all of these opportunities paved the way to the stage at Carnegie Hall.
The role that performing should play within a therapeutic process has long been debated within the field of Music Therapy (Ansdell, 2005). Many recent studies, however, have noted the significance that performance opportunities can have in someone’s personal development (Turry, 2005; Fairchild, Thompson & McFerran, 2017). At The Center for Discovery, we embrace performance opportunities as an opportunity to develop more advanced social skills, including things like responsibility, empathy, and teamwork. Soshensky (2011) noted that “aspects of performing, showing up to sessions, rehearsing, group effort and decision-making, dealing with nervousness, disagreements, boredom, or setbacks, can be approached as real-life opportunities that naturally challenge and strengthen vital community skills.” It should be noted, however, that performance is not a requirement or expectation of Music Therapy, but rather a possible path for those whose growth leads them there.
One need not know the evolution of Jeffrey and Kadeidra to appreciate their performance at Carnegie Hall that night. Instead, the audience was simply treated to a dazzling performance of musical sophistication and heart. As Jeffrey and Kadeidra joined in with their fellow performers, passionately singing with harmonic brilliance and strength, some might say they truly “arrived.” But, those that know them recognize that their arrival simply signals one more step towards greater things to come.
Written by Conio Loretto, III, MS, LCAT, MT-BC, Senior Director of Music Therapy at The Center for Discovery.
Ansdell, G. (2005). Being who you aren’t; Doing what you can’t; Community music therapy and the paradoxes of performance. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 5(3).
Fairchild, R., Thompson, G. and McFerran, K. (2017). Exploring the meaning of performance in music therapy for children and their families experiencing homelessness and family violence. Music Therapy Perspectives, 35(1).
Soshensky, R. (2011). Everybody is a star: Recording, performing and community music therapy. Music Therapy Perspectives, 29 (1).
Tsioulcas, A. (2012). How do you get to carnegie hall? No, seriously. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2012/07/31/157671080/how-do-you-get-to-carnegie-hall-no-seriously.
Turry, A. (2005). Music psychotherapy and community music therapy: Questions and consideration. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 5(1).