Building A Bolder Boulder

Even though the gang population in Boulder is much smaller than Chicago or Los Angeles, the need for after-school music programs is just as prominent. At-risk youth in Boulder needs a chance to join a productive musical “gang”. The term “at-risk youth” carries dual meanings. The term may refer to youth prone to gang involvement, and other times it refers to youth who are finding difficulties succeeding academically due to their socioeconomic circumstances. As expressed by Camilleri, “since these youth lack access to other resources, this starts a vicious circle involving unemployment, insufficient schools, and unpleasant communities”(Camilleri 207). Boulder must provide the chance for at-risk youth to express themselves in a healthy manner in order for them to create positive lifestyles. After school music programs provide the perfect outlet. A child’s stress is addressed in such a way so that their essential needs are met. “It's all about feeding the children's soul"(Terauds). In order to prevent youth from participating in delinquent behavior or gangs, Boulder must listen to the children’s needs.

Denver’s Harmony Project success is based upon providing youth with access to a musical community. This has a positive impact on the students enrolled in the program and on those around them. A student that has been in the program long enough has the opportunity to give back to other struggling at-risk youth through a mentorship program. These children are enlightening others in the program that they must give back to the community, and the cycle will continue. “I strongly feel that I would not be what I am today if it weren't for the music and arts education I received when I was in school” (Bains and Mesa-Bains 183). Bains has learned to incorporate arts into any project he does. The final question he asks himself is how he has impacted the children in a positive way, and what can the students take from his intentions? Learning music helped build his life skills, prevented him from being involved in dangerous post-school activities, and allowed him to be a contributing, valued member of society.

Many use music as a coping mechanism that enables them to alleviate their problems while releasing negative emotions. Boulder has created its own coping mechanism, it dismiss’ and ignores the fact that there is a gang problem here. Boulder does not foresee the extent of the social problems Boulder is facing. The citizens of Boulder overlook the gang culture and drug related problems the at-risk youth face in this town. “Boulder fits the category for a central city, a central area containing a population of 50,000 prone to at-risk youth”(Camilleri 205). As a result of Boulder containing at-risk youth “circumstances are setting students up for potential failure if intervention does not take place”(Camilleri 206). It is not uncommon that youth with an excess amount of time fill the voids in their day with unhealthy, destructive activities, even if it is involuntarily. “Between 3 to 6 p.m., unsupervised children are more likely to engage in gang-related or delinquent behavior, or become victims of crime” (Terauds). It is not acceptable that citizens of Boulder act as bystanders to the problems our youth face, especially with the knowledge that we can implement after school music programs that detract from youth participation in gangs and other unhealthy activities.

An absence of music in a student’s life has a correlation to whether or not they have a positive role model or a support system. When there is no music to relieve their emotions in their lives, they tend to lose their social skills and negative behaviors emerge. Music therapy groups are constructive because the groups address problems, allowing the youth to share their thoughts on how future social situations can be avoided or handled in a better manner.

Music therapy groups provide a place for youth to gather so that they may be productive and employ the techniques they have learned in therapy to other aspects of their lives. “The point at which students can make the connection between ‘musical production and internal process’ (Frisch 20) is when therapeutic growth takes place”(Camilleri 210). Music therapy groups are used to help the youth gain insight. This is when the relationship between music and the children become one. The correlation to their life outside of the music program is evident, and teachers as well as the students begin to see which areas in their lives need improvement. Common behaviors addressed are teamwork, responsibility, and self-control. The youth “have realized is that nothing of much value happens in life without effort” (Morrison). The students work every day to develop their life skills, mending them through after school music programs.

The city of Boulder has the opportunity to amazing things with music. Music students here at CU could start an outreach program, which would help disadvantaged students who want to learn music, but can not afford it. Graduate music majors can hold classes in a community center for the at-risk youth, 3-4 times a week where they can teach them how to play an instrument. In order for this to program to succeed we need commitment and consistency from youth, parents, and the community.

The music they learn is valuable, but more importantly the youth can translate what they learn in therapy to the outside world. “The music therapy context becomes a template for their lives”(Camilleri 210). The youth that attend music therapy programs use them as a model for their life. Boulder can help its youth and itself by providing the gang-prone youth population an opportunity to develop their life skills. This can be achieved through music programs, which are quintessential to their development as productive members of society.

Justin Jennings

Links to Other Subsections
A Nation Sings Out
The History of Preventing Gang Involvement
Testimonies and Stories

Works Cited:

Bains, Richard, and Amalia Mesa-Bains. "A Reciprocal University: A Model For Arts, Justice, and Community." Social Justice 29.4 (2002): 182+. HW Wilson. Web. 28 Nov. 2010.

"Music Therapy With Inner City, At-Risk Children: From the Literal to the Symbolic." Creative Arts Therapies Manual: a Guide to the History, Theoretical Approaches, Assessment, and Work with Special Populations of Art, Play, Dance, Music, Drama, and Poetry Therapies. Ed. Stephanie L. Brooke. By Vanessa A. Camilleri. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, 2006. 205-12. Print.

Morrison, Richard. "How We Could Transform Our Mean Streets with Music - and a Lot of Hard Graft | Richard Morrison - Times Online." The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion. 7 Jan. 2009. Web. 02 Dec. 2010.

Terauds, John. "GTA Youth Music Programs Changing Lives." 27 Nov. 2009. Web. 02 Dec. 2010. <>.

Boulder Seeks Community Input on Gangs - Colorado Daily. Boulder and CU News and Information Boulder, CO - Colorado Daily. 10 Feb. 2010. Web. 02 Dec. 2010. <>.

"Speaking with Margaret Martin." Telephone interview. 02 Dec. 2010.