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Music Beyond Measure, Inc.

Tamara Mayers

Music programs for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and individuals suffering from PTSD to aid trauma recovery.

The mission of Music Beyond Measure (MBM) is to create unique music programs to help survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and individuals suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develop healthy coping mechanisms to aid in the recovery process. Using a group-centered format, MBM programming promotes a co-creative environment that seeks to support each person during his/her trauma recovery.  

MBM is shaped by the vision that music has the power to heal people regardless of their illness, trauma, physical or mental capacity. The simple act of being creative, meaning the act of expressing an original idea, helps to promote confidence and a feeling of self-worth for the creator(s). This vision has inspired MBM to develop programs that partner professional artists with survivors to create an original work of art inspired by their own experiences.

One of our first programs is called the "Sing Your Story" Project, where 10-15 participants work with a professional musician for 8-weeks to compose an original song based on their individual stories.  Using a one-of-a-kind curriculum developed by MBM in partnership with professional clinicians with extensive experience in trauma, crisis, domestic violence, sexual assault, PTSD, family issues, and chronic illness recovery, survivors will engage in group-centered creative activities that will prepare them to write lyrics to an original song.  The Project Artist will compose music to accompany the lyrics and will teach the survivors to sing the melody based on their own words.  At the end of the project, participants will perform their original composition as a group in a community concert with professional musicians. 

Using our groundbreaking curriculum, we hope to create similar short and long-term projects in other arts disciplines such as dance, visual arts, poetry, theater, and film. The overall goals of these projects are to ensure that participants have a positive way of channeling their emotions into a positive project that inspires changes in the way that survivors experience their recovery while providing an artistic experience for surrounding communities.

MBM chose to focus our programming on these particular groups because of the physical, mental, and emotional effects that survivors experience as a result of their trauma.  These experiences can change how survivors see themselves and society as a whole.  MBM believes in "art for humanity's sake" vs. "art for art's sake". We believe that making the arts accessible to the public through education and live performance is extremely important for the cultural enrichment of our communities.  However, we wanted to go a step further by directly engaging the public using the arts as a means of bringing attention to domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and individuals suffering from PTSD. By healing our individuals, we are healing our communities and promoting a dramatic shift in the way that participants view the recovery process and bringing attention to how these issues affect our families and communities. 

Our programs are not meant to replace existing therapy, but to supplement current methods to 1) increase the likelihood of survivors continuing in the recovery process; 2) advance the role of music in recovery from a relaxation activity to a viable means of healthy self-expression; 3) encourage survivors to tell their stories in a way that will not only help them, but others who may have similar backgrounds; 4) create a public dialogue on these issues to inspire our communities to become more actively involved in eradicating these problems; and 5) make the arts accessible to these populations in a way that has never been done before.

With the help of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA), MBM has been able to partner with domestic and sexual violence organizations across the state of NJ to begin implementing this program in Newark, NJ, Morristown, NJ, Hackensack, NJ, and Paterson, NJ.  Most recently, MBM has partnered with directors of the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Invisible War to host screenings of the film and to include MBM programs in their 14-day recovery program for survivors of military sexual trauma.

All funds raised will go towards starting programs in the aforementioned cities as well as expansion into other local NJ and NY cities. By 2016, MBM hopes to partner with other organizations to make our programs available nationally and internationally.