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Bringing music to prisons

A sing-out for people on the inside

Singing in a correctional institution offered a breath of “normal life” for inmates in the Allen-Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio. Chapter member Andrew Carter shares their experience.

On October 8, 2019, the Lima Beane Chorus returned for a second time to sing for and with the men housed at Allen Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio. We had enjoyed our time with them several months earlier and wanted to return.

These engagements were proposed originally by Derek Szabados, a lead in our chorus and a staff member at the facility. He told us the institute had a chapel choir and they would enjoy our coming and singing for them. Derek has been working with them for some time and felt a get-together with them would be beneficial for all.

In both visits, the Beanes and chapter quartet (Opus 4) entertained for 30-45 minutes. We then sat in sections with the inmates and were lead by our director, Anthony Taylor. Anthony had us sing a couple of polecat songs and the inmates really enjoyed learning and singing new songs. We then split up into sections and worked on some finer points such as diction and singing vowels the same way for a better blend.

During our visit in October, a quartet of chapel choir members sang a spiritual song that was well done. Our chorus members were moved so much that one member said "That was a God moment!"

We are grateful to Derek for having suggested these visits. The 2 ½ hours spent on each of these sessions have been worth every minute. Music can bridge gaps and bring people together like few other mediums. We look forward to future visits with these guys. What an experience!