Author Archives: Caitlin Cacciatore

Caitlin Cacciatore: Bio & Contribution Statement

Caitlin Cacciatore (she/hers) graduated from Macaulay Honors at Baruch College, CUNY, in 2021 with a degree in Artificial Intelligence Studies. She comes from a background largely grounded in theory and the ethical implications of the proliferation of automation, machine learning, intelligent agents, the Internet, the inherently problematic nature of the digital divide, issues of accessibility, and the problem of machine bias. Caitlin also took courses in Python, C++, and SQL, as well as Excel, Access, and other database management tools.

During her time at Baruch, Caitlin became a published author, and possesses copyediting skills as well as website design and maintenance skills borne of administrating her own blog since 2016. In light of her intimate familiarity with WordPress, she will serve as the Sounds of Music team’s Technical Coordinator and Website Administrator. She will also work in a secondary capacity as a Copy Editor. Her duty is to polish content produced by herself and her colleagues, and transfer this content to a public-facing website. Her role is also to ensure that everything is running smoothly behind the scenes, and to co-create a seamless user experience for anyone visiting the website.

Caitlin is also responsible for co-creating a manifesto of best practices for music enrichment and engagement programs, as well as co-authoring a Sound of Music Workshop Toolkit, ideal for allowing individuals, groups, nursing homes, hospitals, daycares, schools, and other public and private facilities to create their own music enrichment programs. Additionally, Caitlin will brainstorm and iterate with her team members to launch a virtual synchronous Sounds of Music trial program, as well as a pilot program for the team’s target population of homebound elders.

Sounds of Music: Updated Project Proposal

Sounds of Music

By Caitlin Cacciatore, Felicity Howlett, and Raquel Neris

Team Members & Roles

Felicity Howlett

Primary Role: Project Director

Secondary Role(s): Notetaker, Outreach Specialist, & Primary Researcher

Caitlin Cacciatore

Primary Role: Web Designer & Technical Coordinator

Secondary Role(s): Copy Editor & Secondary Researcher

Raquel Neris

Primary Role: Operations Manager

Secondary Role(s): UX Designer & Visual Design Specialist 


On March 11, 2020, when the WHO declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, the abrupt termination of in-person, interpersonal communication upended traditional practices in work, play, and study. The sudden social isolation that followed was alleviated somewhat by the rapid installation of dedicated online networks intended to re-establish communication patterns and networks. As time went by, it became apparent that these newly constructed online pipelines could be creatively employed to connect people who had, for reasons of age, health, handicap, or other disability, remained out of the loop, isolated from the mainstream of human social activity, and for the most part, overlooked.

Sounds of Music is an interactive online experience that strives to reach an audience of elderly, homebound, and handicapped populations. Those who find it difficult to leave their home for these reasons often become isolated. We seek to remediate this through community participation opportunities for music aficionados for those for whom in-person activities are not always an accessible option. Our pilot program focuses on providing services and education for a small group in the NYC Metropolitan area. We hope to build lasting connections, encourage neuroplasticity, and ignite a sense of passion for music within participants. This proposal invites the participation of the digital humanities community as its role expands from the academy into the broader public sphere.

The program operates from a WordPress website platform in order to disseminate information about Sounds of Music. Zoom will be used to facilitate interactive communication and screen sharing.

Environmental Scan

In 2018, Felicity volunteered for a music therapy program under the direction of Concetta Tomaino, musician, music therapist, educator, cognitive specialist, and director of the Institute of Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF). IMNF developed from the research and clinical studies that she and Oliver Sacks[1] conducted during their years of working together at the Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx. Her experience includes decades of exploring how music can assist, support, and enhance the quality of life for people afflicted with cognitive, physical, and/or emotional difficulties. The program, designed for veterans, did not exclude other interested individuals. Some demonstrated signs of dementia, while others suffered from anxiety or PTSD. Cognitive difficulties and physical handicaps were also in evidence.

There were an abundance of drums, tambourines, and shakers to choose from. Different combinations of flute, piano, guitar, and bass were performed, depending on who attended, and vocals and karaoke accompaniments were produced from online sources via cell phones. Sessions were jovial, lively, and compelling. People who swore they could not/would not sing, sang, and even soloed with a microphone. One gentleman, long past 90, danced with amazing grace. The music often stimulated memories which would then inspire discussions. Songs were drawn from the deep traditions of American, Latin American, Caribbean folk and popular culture and jazz. The atmosphere of well-being in the room reflected the joy at sharing this music together.

The gradual evolution of the program to an online interface brought with it the realization of its potential to bring music, interaction, enjoyment, and a sense of well-being to a largely untapped audience of elderly people—those who are isolated, confined, and unable to travel.

Participation in this program inspired the desire to build a similar project, one for elderly, aging, homebound populations. Sounds of Music was borne of a wish to bring music enrichment to all who could benefit from it, and features a ‘do-it-yourself’ workshop component through which any interested party could create a framework for their own music enrichment experience. Sounds of Music differs from other programs of its kind in that it is more than just a pilot program and musical enrichment experience; it is a tool for creating, facilitating, curating, enhancing, and enabling music enrichment experiences for any age group or population demographic.

A Sample of Similar Programs and Activities      

Although we are not aware at the present moment of online, interactive music programs specifically created for the isolated, elderly, disabled population, a survey of online music programs reflects intentions ranging from pedagogy to entertainment, from therapy to general interest, from probing deeply into specific categories to simple, popular entertainment.

Daniel’s Music Foundation.                 

New York City, NY

Daniel’s Music Foundation is a thriving music center in New York City that offers musical activities and lessons for individuals with handicaps from age three through adult. Its enrollment increased significantly since it has gone virtual.  Activities include many types of instrumental lessons, games, music education, songwriting, and special videos. It is an astonishingly creative, vibrant source for music education, performance, and enjoyment.

In contrast to the educational and ensemble focus of Daniel’s Music Foundation, our program will focus on shared musical experiences through listening, singing, performing, and conversation. Opportunities for further exploration of specific items of interest may become part of the texture.

Fred Miller’s Lectures in Song             

Sergeantsville, NJ 08557

Singer, entertainer, lecturer, sage, and raconteur, Fred performs at various venues – libraries, community groups, retirement facilities—60-75-minute theme-based musical programs specializing in American Popular Song’s Golden Age. From the piano, he performs, lectures, and offers insights into the material. Several dozen previews are available on YouTube, and, on occasion, he offers free online programs from a base at the Hunterdon Public Library.

The comfortable spirit of Fred Miller’s highly entertaining, and informative programs is something we would like to invoke. We are focusing our efforts on creating a program with a higher level of interactivity and engagement.

Music Mends Minds: Restoring the Rhythm of Life   

Los Angeles, CA

Music Mends Minds is a nonprofit organization with a strong therapeutic focus that creates musical support groups for individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and other neurological disorders. It uses music “to help elders cope with neurogenerative diseases across the globe.”  Global online singalong sessions are conducted through Zoom every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm.  A board-certified music therapist leads each session in song.

This is a music therapy-based interactive group that incorporates activities that will also be part of our program such as featuring a soloist/participant or singing along with a leader. In addition, to live performances and group participation, we would also explore historical videos of famous performers, occasionally compare performances by different singers, and encourage a more humanities-based approach.

The Sofa Singers                                                                                  

North Wales, UK

Hundreds of people from all over the world join together in real time for 45 minutes of simultaneous singing twice a week on Zoom, led and directed by James Sills.  Signup for individual programs at a small participation fee is handled through Eventbrite. Sills successfully circumvents the latency problem for simultaneous choral participation by providing an upfront invitation and explanation for his format: “The Sofa Singers encourages you to sing as if no-one is listening because they won’t be.  Due to latency (delay) it is not possible to synchronize and hear all of the singers at the same time. But you will be able to see each other so sing with a smile. Afterwards, there’s a virtual tea break followed by some open floor slots where individuals can say hello and share a song, a poem or a story.”

Video clips of Italians singing from their balconies that emerged in the early days of the Covid-19 crisis (see inspired Sills, who had previous involvement with choral groups, to create a website for singers to participate online. Practically overnight, he had it up and running, and its popularity continues.

In contrast to the huge gathering of Sofa Singers, our program intends to bring together small numbers of people in an ambiance where they can get to know one another as well as participate.  While certain activities, for better audio reception, will require inactive participants to be muted, most activities will encourage people to participate in the discussion.

Technologies Used

  • Zoom will be used to facilitate the Sounds of Music pilot project. We will need to consider how to navigate issues of potential Zoom-bombing, or technological failures and issues.
  • WordPress via CUNY Academic Commons will be used as a platform for the dissemination of relevant information about the pilot program of Sounds of Music, as well as the framework we create for future projects involving music engagement and enrichment programs for an aging/elderly, homebound population.
  • Assistive Technologies, including hardware and software for the visually impaired, magnifiers, screen readers, text readers, as well as various alternatives for operating equipment manually or by voice. For defining these technologies, our team is still in the process of doing research and learning how they operate.

Project Management

Felicity Howlett is the Project Director, and is responsible for note-taking during meetings. Raquel Neris is the Project Manager, having set up a Trello for our group where deadlines can be managed and aggregated. We will communicate on Slack, with the expectation that each team member checks the platform daily on workdays.



  • Create a prototype of a WordPress website platform;
  • Populate the WordPress platform with information about best practices, frameworks, toolkits, research, resources, and more;
  • Explore various opportunities for accessibility on the website;
  • Identify and include links to other, similar projects that are of import;
  • Interview Jeremey Deloitte for information regarding other music enrichment programs.


  • Continue to add to the WordPress website, including a section on addressing issues of latency and troubleshooting other problems that might arise;
  • Produce a manifesto of best practices for music enrichment;
  • Identify and interview potential users;
  • Continue Research about the benefits of music enrichment and enhancement programs;
  • Define a model for the Sounds of Music experience that involves a program itinerary;
  • Solicit feedback about the design, layout, and content from potential users.


  • Launch the public-facing version of the website;
  • Promote the website and pilot program on social media;
  • Launch a single session of the pilot program on Zoom with 8+ participants;
  • Solicit feedback from the participants on how to improve the Sounds of Music


  • Create a prototype of the Sounds of Music Workshop (the do-it-yourself guide to creating an interactive music enrichment experience with any given population);
  • Solicit feedback from potential users about how to improve Sounds of Music Workshop;
  • Evolve the website, framework, manifesto, and other elements of the Sounds of Music.


  • Launch the second version of the Sounds of Music project with the Sounds of Music Workshop published on the website.

Oracle for Transfeminist Technologies Workshop Reflection

The Oracle for Transfeminist Technologies workshop session began with an acknowledgment that Manhattan was originally Lenape land, as well as a brief reflection on how to decolonize both online and physical spaces. It was also mentioned that much of Manhattan was constructed by enslaved Africans, performing forced labor on land that originally belonged to the indigenous population.

Manhattan was indeed ceded territory, purchased in May of 1626 for the sum of “60 guilders.” Below you will find an example of a well-preserved guilder from 1682, courtesy of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Estimates of the value of this sum in modern currency vary, but there is a consensus that it was worth no more than $15,000 in today’s USD.

Guilder, Dutch

We then read a poem together – “There is an Edge: Ode to Radical Imagination, by Adrienne Maree Brown.” We had a discussion during which we discussed how the edge of our imagination is an internal, imaginary boundary that we impose on ourselves instead of a physical, tangible border.

We then used the Oracle for Transfeminist Technologies, the homepage of which you can find linked here.

The workshop leader, Alicia Peaker, explained that this oracle was based on the idea of tarot, and announced that she had already prepared several ‘readings,’ based upon the deck. The deck itself consists primarily of Value Cards, Object Cards, and various Situation Cards.

Some examples of Values include but are not limited to: Resilience, Queerness, Agency, Consent, Diversity, and Decoloniality, in no particular order.

Object Cards include but are not limited to: Wine, Trash Bins, Spoons, Lipstick, Bread, and Bacteria, in no particular order.

Situation Cards are more complex. My favorites? “Use Technology as a Tool for Feminist Resistance,” and “Amplify the Narratives of Women and Queer Persons.”

There is only one Bodies card, and it reads: “You carry the stories of the body and the territories you inhabit.” This card is intended to go along with each and every reading, as a visual reminder to be gentle to ourselves and each other, as well as to take steps to decolonize our spaces and our thinking. It encourages us to think about our bodies, our burdens, and our respective privileges. This card enables us to meditate on the relationship between ourselves, our bodies, and the bodies of land we inhabit. It helps us draw a distinct border between our minds and our bodies, in order to blur and indeed cross that line, or at the very least, become aware of it.

I was placed in a breakout room with two of my colleagues in DH from another college outside the CUNY system. Our reading seemed to stump us at first; our object with which to build was Bacteria, our value was socio-environmental justice, and our situation was “to defend the right to freedom of political, religious, and sexual expression.”

Our Body card was there, a pertinent reminder of the Earth we all share, and our thoughts turned to the literal earth – the soil beneath our feet, teeming with good bacteria and decomposers tirelessly performing the work of renewal and recycling, without any expectation of thanks or praise.

And yet they are vital. They are from the earth, of the earth, and to the earth, they shall return. Rich soil is full of nutrients and natural fertilizers only because of the presence of bacteria. This was fundamental as much as it was foundational.

One avenue of conversation we ambled down was fraught by our situation – how do we ensure freedom of political, and especially religious, expressions, when the idea of the tree of life, evolutionary theory, Darwinism, etc. was so diametrically opposed to the Judeo-Christian worldview, cosmogony, and Creation stories?

We decided the world needed more of what we called “bacterial literacy” – knowledge of how important our microbiome is, teachings about ecology and the role of bacteria in the cycle of life, and environmental microbiology, sometimes known as microbial ecology. We needed to change the narrative that soil is “dirty” and that dirt, and by extension, the bacteria it harbors, is by nature distasteful and repugnant. We needed to re-envision a world where leaves aren’t meticulously raked each autumn, and are instead allowed to rot into the good and giving ground, in order to provide vital nutrients for next season’s vegetation. We needed to reclaim the land that has been lost to lawns, and spread awareness of water waste and bee colony collapse.

In this vein, we called our project “Land Reclamation and Lawn Reimagination.”

You can see more of our thoughts below. We grappled with things like food insecurity, indigenous land wisdom, the Swedish concept of allemansrätten, our shared wariness of our local Homeowner’s Associations, and in the end, the concept of our collective mortality itself.

Workshop Worksheet Completed

When we gathered back towards the end of the workshop, I was energized and pleased with what we had thought about, created, ideated about, and accomplished. I think we all walked out of the room with a new perspective on bacteria, but my most important takeaway was and remains this: That together, we can solve problems and build new technologies, find solutions and forge a path towards a brighter, more inclusive future. Alone, we are doomed to travel the beaten path. Together, we can make and take the road not yet built; we can strive to co-create a better future for us all. Together, we are unstoppable.

Caitlin Cacciatore’s Skillsets

Project manager: I am a natural leader skilled at project management, and though this is not my preferred role, I have had experience leading a team in the 2018 IBM Watson Case Competition, but it was not a role I particularly enjoyed or would soon wish to repeat.


Developer: I learned to code in both Python and C++ in Undergrad, and have since forgotten every word of both languages. I always struggled with the finer aspects of coding, which is how I ended up in Digital Humanities! I would not enjoy this role.


Design/UX: I am extremely interested in Design and User Experience. I am skilled in user-centric design, and am very conscious and concerned about issues of accessibility. Whatever the project I end up working on, I wish for it to have visual and textual components accessible to and translated for blind and low vision users. I am eager to explore other avenues of accessibility. At present, I wish to become a UX Designer when I graduate from the DH program at the CUNY Graduate Center. I am skilled in graphic design, and have an eye for aesthetics, having been an artist’s assistant for many years. I would prefer this role.


Outreach/Social Media: I have worked as an Instructor of Computer Literacy since age 12, and much of my job as an artist’s assistant was to do social media outreach through Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms geared towards marketing. I also have experience with writing and editing. As stated above, I am skilled in graphic design for social media outreach. I think this role would also be a great fit for me.


Documentation: Though I’m an excellent writer, and am skilled at using Excel, I don’t like the finicky little aspects of documentation, archiving, and keeping track of moving parts. I would not enjoy this role.


Research: I enjoy research, to an extent, and am relatively skilled at finding information and going through documents to find the proverbial needle in the haystack, but this is not a preferred role because it does not align as well with my passions.


Geospatial: I have experience using ArcGIS, and enjoy mapping. This would be a good secondary role for me to play as part of a team.