Afro-Colombian Drum Classes Motivate Inmates and Inspire Teachers

Ejercicios de calentamiento antes de inicar las clases. Los dirige el maestro, Alberto Lopez.

Warming excercises before drumming class with teacher Alberto Lopez at NORCO. Photo by Ruben Tapia.

A group of inmates at a medium-security prison in the city of Norco in Riverside County say that taking Afro-Caribbean drum lessons has not only helped to alleviate the racial tensions common in prisons, but also to give them a positive attitude about life after incarceration. This experience has also affected the traditional musicians who teach them, who said they have found a source of creative inspiration in the inmates. Ruben Tapia spoke with participants in one of these classes behind bars and shares their stories.

This program, known as Arts in Corrections, is part of an effort by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the California Arts Council and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. Its purpose is to rehabilitate prisoners and help them prepare for reintegration into their families and communities. Ruben Tapia attended one of these classes inside Norco.

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Photos by Ruben Tapia

For more information about Arts in Corrections visit this page

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