We focused on the work we have done in Lewisham, because there is such a wealth of opportunity within the borough. I worked with Dr Kate Wakeling (research fellow at Trinity Laban) on the project and together we interviewed staff and volunteers at the community organisations, children and their families who have attended Fairbeats! sessions and representatives from The Midi Music Company; The Horniman Museum; Trinity Laban and Lewisham Music Hub (all of whom have been progression route partners for us).
If you’re reading this you probably already support the idea that music can change people’s lives! Just in case though, here’s an amazing thought from one of the mothers we work with at Action for Refugees in Lewisham: ‘Before, he was very shy to ask me questions, especially at home, but now he
asks a lot of questions... He asks a lot of questions outside music, I notice that as well. When he’s playing, I play with him; I also learn. You [Fairbeats!] teach him music [and] he teaches me how to play, so we both play together and we bond.’ At the time that we spoke to her, this mother was living in one room temporary accommodation with her family and heavily reliant on food parcels
and donations to get by.
So the research enabled us to understand that our involvement in the lives of our participants had the potential to make huge positive changes. It also taught us a lot about how to do what we dobetter! For me there were many new insights, too numerous to mention here, some of the most useful were:
- Taking part in arts activities isn’t always positive. When progression routes are not wellsupported and planned new cultural environments with their unknown hierarchies; rules and expected modes of behaviour can feel overwhelming and demoralising for some children who may lack the confidence; skills and experience to engage.
- Groups like Fairbeats! can play a crucial intermediary role between grass roots community organisations and larger next step cultural organisations by managing and supporting musical progression routes so that they have a positive impact.
- We found that when ‘next steps’ explicitly prioritise inclusion alongside musical excellence in their organisation mission statements the support we needed to provide was about preparing participants and getting them to the opportunities – we didn’t need to be in the room during the opportunity for them to have a positive experience.
- We found that when organisations prioritised artistic excellence over inclusion we sometimes needed to offer additional on the day support to participants in the room to facilitate a positive experience.
- Fairbeats! participants had most fun at next step organisations when they felt like they had something to offer. Embedding a long term culture of creative music making and building musical skills at grass root organisations like Action for Refugees in Lewisham fosters a desire and confidence to get involved with cultural activities beyond the refugee centre.
You can read the full report and the fact sheets by following this link: http://www.sound-