Folsom Prison Guitar Instruction
"The culture of a thousand years is shattered with the clanging of the cell door behind you," wrote Johnny Cash about prison life.
The Creative Arts Program Arts in Corrections at California State Prison Sacramento-Folsom has developed an instructional classical guitar program. The prison has a long history of community supported fine arts programs. Gabe Becker is currently teaching one instructional workshop weekly with hopes of expanding to at least two classes. Gabe volunteers his time and has ten students (8 inmates and 2 staff who assist and study alongside the inmates).
The program has been very well received. The students are conscientious and are progressing rapidly. Arts programs have a very positive affect on the individual participants and the prison community as a whole. Participation in the arts fosters a sense of self-esteem, develops creative and critical thinking skills, requires self-discipline and cooperation, all of which lead to improved behavior inside the prison and increases the potential for successful parole.
Here's a message from Gabe:
Here's an update on the prison program for you:
There is as much transition for the lives of the inmates as with anyone - they come and go for all kinds of reasons. Right now the program is oscillating between 2 and 5 students. The hope is that expansion happens through equipping the most committed students for a teaching role for other inmates of which are not accessible by volunteers like me. Of course, the goal is to provide a means of accomplishment and source of esteem in a traditionally artistically sterile environment through the study of classical guitar.
As to stories, I can relate this to the SGS - a letter from one of the mothers of the participants [their names have been omitted]
I wanted to let you know that you can continue to be proud of your musicians in A Facility as [they] performed beautifully yesterday in visiting. They played from 10:00 - 2:00 and wowed everyone. They were polished, professional and absolutely stunning. They left their nerves at the door and were flawless. I asked one of the musicians to play his 3 solos from the recital, and he did them as if he'd been playing them forever. Another, too did a fabulous job with everything, and what can I say about my son!! Apparently, he's been working on some kind of a personal adaptation of Romanze, and hearing it, I was speechless.
My gratitude to you for all that you've done to bring these talents to light. You are truly a gift that has walked into all of their lives, and they know it.
Thanks again, Gabe for all that you've done for all of the men there. I will never forget you.
Mother of Folsom Prison Classical Guitar Program student "
Sacramento Guitar Society supports the Folsom Prison CGP with donated nylon-string guitars either purchased new or repaired by El Dorado Hills luthier Waylin Carpenter.