Music as mentorship: the experiences of homeless youth at Mic City

Purpose: Youth homelessness is an ongoing societal crisis throughout the United States. This research project seeks to integrate frameworks from positive youth development, therapeutic songwriting, and nondeliberative social work practice as it examines the potential of utilizing music studio sessions, such as those offered at Mic City, to create safe spaces for engaging and mentoring homeless youth. Research Question: What are the experiences of homeless youth within a collaborative music studio space? Additional research subquestions investigate the role of collaboration, experiences of mentorship, and unique qualities inherent to Mic City, as experienced by participants. Methods: Using a phenomenological approach, participants in the weekly music production group, known as Mic City, were interviewed about their unique experiences. Additional field notes were used to triangulate research data. Results: Interviews revealed consensus among participants regarding the important role which music plays in their lives. Most participants reported experiencing a mentoring relationship with the group facilitator, who was frequently framed as a supportive educator. An assortment of attitudes towards creative collaboration were voiced, with most participants indicating that collaboration was useful under the right conditions. Discussion: This exploratory research indicates that a music studio setting holds promise as a site for engaging and mentoring homeless youth. Further research may seek to explore quantitative outcomes of participation in similar programming.