Julia Adolphe has a collection of blog posts on New Music Box about her time as an undergraduate student and her experiences teaching music theory to prisoners through the Cornell Prison Education Program. Her final post, Incarceration and Musical Inspiration Part Four: The Last Class, discusses her feelings of accomplishment as well as her fears as a teacher.
Julia’s compassion for her students was evident when she wrote that the thought of her students fading away disturbed her. She wondered how or if her students would continue studying music or if they would be released from prison. She would never know if they went on to accomplish goals for themselves in any way.
The last class that Julia taught at the Auburn Correctional Facility broke down barriers for both Julia and some of the prisoners. Although nervous, Julia shared her contemporary chamber pieces with her students. He Disappeared into Complete Silence was a piece that Julia shared. The text is based off of dark poems by Louise Bourgeois. I could only imagine the sense of fear or nervousness that composers must experience when sharing a composition. One of the main reasons why Julia wanted to play her pieces for her students was to see if contemporary classical music could be accessible to people who haven’t had that type of exposure.
After listening to the composition one of her students spoke to her, “As long as you write from a place of love, other people will love it too. When I hear your music, I can tell that you love what you do. I can sense how much joy it brings you to create, to express yourself, and that makes me feel good. That brings me joy. All you can do is write the music that you love.”
I really enjoyed reading this set of articles by Julia Adolphe. I can’t really wrap my head around the fact that such a young woman would have the drive to better the world in such a way. Julia’s story is truly inspiring to me. I hope that I can find my voice in helping society through music someday.