The Mission: 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.


The Need: According to the Bureau of Justice, almost 70% of those released from prison are rearrested within three years. Beyond the need for jobs and housing, more must be done to build confidence and self worth. MOTI music classes foster positive change and supportive human connections through the universal language of music 


MOTI Music Programs: MOTI taught “Beats and Blues” to youth on Rikers Island and “Guitar, Singing and Songwriting” to adults in New York State correctional facilities, culminating in prison-wide concerts.. The pandemic increased MOTI programming for individuals in reentry with “One on One MOTI Music Mentorships” with top musicians as teachers and mentors and “Music While We’re Inside” Zoom concerts, featuring formerly incarcerated musicians alongside leading artists. 


MOTI Guiding Light- Louis Armstrong: The music education and mentorship Armstrong received when he was arrested as a youth and sent to “The Colored Waifs Home for Boys” changed his life. MOTI was founded in 2015 by the originating producer of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Alina Bloomgarden, who enlisted Artistic Advisor Wynton Marsalis, MOTI Board member Arturo O’Farrill and many other top musicians to give individuals impacted by criminal justice today, what Armstrong had: music, mentorship, and, most importantly,  hope. Since its inception, MOTI has touched more that 1,000 people in prisons and reentry and engaged over 270 top musicians as teachers, mentors and guest artists.



"A program like Music on the Inside has given me sure proof that society has not counted us all out or as wasted talent. On a personal note, I was very moved to be in the presence of such great artists. They made me feel loved and powerful all at once!"

- Irv Johnson.  MOTI gave Irv a guitar when he was released and now gives him ongoing lessons and features him as an artist in our concerts.