Beyond Discipline and Punish: Learning the Piano Inside a Prison

By Inês Lamela and Paulo Maria Rodrigues.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault identifies discipline and “docilization” as the two main processes used by prisons to shape and control the bodies and will of individuals in the attempt to reconstruct identities that can fit the behavioural patterns required by living in society. This strategy is, however, criticized by many, and different prison systems have been searching for activities and programs that can positively contribute towards the experience of living in a prison. This article describes the project “On the wings of a piano… I learn how to fly” developed in 2013–2014 in a female prison near Oporto, Portugal. Starting from activities such as improvisation, composition and memorization of simple pieces, the individual lessons evolved towards reading from scores and public collective presentations. Based on this experience we reflect about the gap that separates the experience lived in this project with the hostile environment described by Foucault, finding clear evidences that music is a powerful tool for Human Development: it catalyses emotions, opens communication channels between individuals, promotes self efficacy, confidence, forgiveness and motivation to find out and try other experiences.

Keywords: Community Music, Music in Prisons, Piano, Human Development

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp.21-35. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 751.448KB).

Inês Lamela

PhD Student, Department of Communication and Art, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

I am a student at the University of Aveiro.

Prof. Paulo Maria Rodrigues

Professor, Department of Communication and Art, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal