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Music on the Inside (MOTI) connects youth and adults impacted by incarceration with professional musicians as teachers and mentors to bring hope and healing through the transformative power of music. 



Louis Armstrong’s life-changing experience of music education and mentorship when he was confined as a youth, inspired the launch of MOTI. Founded in 2016 by the originating producer of Jazz at Lincoln Center, MOTI facilitates music classes for individuals in prison and youth on probation and also provides one on one music mentorships for those in re-entry.  Through music and mentorships with musicians, participants find avenues to address trauma, avoid recidivism and re-enter their communities with increased confidence and hope. MOTI has delivered its core guitar, singing and songwriting programs to youth on Rikers Island and adults in New York State prisons. MOTI mentorships connect individuals in reentry with a professional musician on their instrument, building music and life skills while creating lasting bonds. Our “Musicians for Justice” concerts on Zoom showcase the talents and humanity of justice-impacted individuals performing alongside top professional musicians. 






    • MOTI is resuming in-person prison classes this October at Queensboro Correctional Facility. Our guitar, singing and songwriting classes will culminate with a concert for the entire facility, featuring our students and teachers with distinguished guest artists.



    • We match musically-engaged Individuals, released from prisons anywhere in the country, with a dedicated professional musician on their instrument. Launched when the pandemic precluded access to the prisons, the mentorships have become an increasingly important part of MOTI’s work.

    • Rikers Island Music Therapy Division is referring individuals for MOTI to continue their music and life skills support in reentry.

    • Requests for MOTI mentorships on Zoom are now coming from prisons across the country, include Pennsylvania, Georgia and other states.

    • Some of our mentees are now teaching artists for MOTI.



    • Our Bars Beyond Bars recording and songwriting program will launch in Harlem with Youth Justice Network this fall, with requests coming in from Exodus Transitional Community and other community organizations serving justice-impacted youth throughout the boroughs.



    • Over 500 distinguished artists have contributed their performances on over 80 concerts on Zoom, performing side by side with talented formerly incarcerated individuals. These monthly concerts brought MOTI out of the prisons and into the public, raising awareness and support for America’s huge population of justice-impacted individuals. Our Next concert is Sunday October 16th.  Wynton Marsalis will host our November 13th concert and we'll be celebrating Louis Armstrong our Annual Gala on Sunday, December 11th. 

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