Tuned in: Christchurch Symphony Orchestra shares music skills with Tu Ora


“Music connects people. When we play together, it’s as if no barriers exist and we are all in it together."   - Cathy Irons,
CSO Community Engagement Programme Leader.

Music filled the halls at Christchurch Men’s Prison when four members of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) passed on their music skills to our Tu Ora, culminating in a publicly very well received performance.

The project involved a workshop over eight weeks, where nine of our men learned to play musical instruments alongside CSO members. Making music on buckets, ukuleles, violins and clarinets might seem fun for the inmates, but this experience offered a valuable set of skills to help participants on their rehabilitation journey. It often comes as a surprise to them to discover a passion, natural abilities and a new way of communicating, as many of them have never had the opportunity to play music before. 

“Music connects people. When we play together, it’s as if no barriers exist and we are all in it together. Music builds self-confidence as we need to communicate and listen to play together, we find our place as part of a team and get a sense of belonging, we respect each other. We perform not as individuals but as a group, and we share the pride and accomplishment in what we can achieve together”, says Cathy Irons, CSO Community Engagement Programme Leader.

At the end of the workshop, the Tu Ora celebrated their achievements in a showcase concert for a group of invited guests, Corrections staff, and other inmates, performing various musical genres from classical music like Gareth Farr’s Little Sea Gongs through to Pasifika-inspired drum beats.

Certificates were also presented recognising the men’s perseverance, their accomplishment of overcoming performance anxiety and commitment.

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