Sing for Life provides a performing arts program for inmates in the Edmonton Institution for Women. Some women who participate have a musical background but others are exposed to music for the first time through this program.
The performing arts program offers inmates the following opportunities:
The “New Beginnings Choir” – which is conducted by Eva Bostrand and meets weekly. The repertoire is diverse and ranges from classical music to contemporary songs chosen by choir members. From time to time the choir performs in concerts inside the institution and occasionally, when permitted, outside in the community. Besides learning about music, members derive many benefits from singing in the choir including increased self-efficacy, a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence, a reduction of isolation and a feeling of belonging to a community, a safe environment for self expression and emotional release, a chance to learn to cooperate with others, and the opportunity to learn how to trust – all skills that can serve them well when they are reintegrating to society after release from prison.
Individual piano and voice lessons – offered by professional music teacher, Beth Schuld. With the support from generous donors, Sing for Life provides and maintains pianos and portable keyboards for the program. Inmates are given the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in recitals in front of appreciative audiences inside the prison and sometimes outside in the community.
Guitar lessons – offered by professional guitarist, Wes Caswell. As is the case for the piano program, generous donations have made it possible for each student to have the use of their own instrument.
Workshops – Sing for Life hires and arranges for instructors to lead occasional workshops for the inmates. The workshops give a larger number of inmates the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of participating in the performing arts. Instruction is provided in different aspects of performing arts such as drumming, body awareness/movement, and in different genres of singing such as classical, gospel and the blues.
Concerts – Sing for Life arranges for, and funds, concerts for inmates inside the prison. The concerts feature performances by professional singers and instrumentalists, as well as by community choirs, to expose inmates to the broader music community and to let them know that people outside prison care about them.