Music as Service

Carla Moreno (Photo by Joseph C. Schlechter)World music specialist, writer, teacher and vocalist Carla Moreno (’97, ’01 M.M.Ed.) moved to Seattle to explore her musical options and found far more than she expected. Moreno was selected as a fellow in the newly launched MusicianCorps, a domestic “musical Peace Corps” intent on using music for public good.

In its pilot year, the MusicianCorps — formed by the nonprofit organization Music National Service, in conjunction with the federal Serve America Act — has assigned 21 teaching musicians to full-time work in schools, hospitals, recreation centers and other high-need areas in Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle. The program encourages civic engagement and helps develop musicianship and creative skills.

“The program is the perfect embodiment of my own personal values,” Moreno says. “It not only teaches music’s life lessons, but it also creates sustainable goodwill in communities, bringing light to those needing it most.”

Moreno — who has done musical work in Ghana, Brazil and Honduras, among other countries — is assigned to Seattle’s Low Income Housing Institute. She leads an after-school program for children and adults, celebrating the cultures of the largely immigrant community through music exchanges and performances.

“Music empowers you with important life skills such as team work and commitment,” she says. “But more importantly, it’s a conduit to the human soul.”

Moreno transferred to UNT in 1993 from San Jacinto College. A jazz singer who considered pursuing opera, she decided to go into teaching and focus on world music.

In addition to the after-school program she leads, her commitment to MusicianCorps requires other service work and on-going training and assessment.

“I think the most important part of being a musician is being of service, not just providing a service,” Moreno says. “Everyone can serve, and everyone deserves music.”