Fairbeats ukulele leader Ben Reeve has put together a toolkit of resources to support music making sessions in community settings working with refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants. Read more here:
This model and checklist explore some of the considerations and the methods we use to support musical progression for the young musicians that we work with.
Fairbeats! has been running for five years and a registered charity since November 2015. As part of our most recent Youth Music project we’ve written a model based on the work we have been doing including a practical checklist for setting a project up. Although we work with young refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants much of what we do could be transferred to other settings. We have a strong focus on progression and particularly working with community organisations to reach children, young people and families who might not otherwise access music making.
The model focuses on the idea of a ‘progression project’. Progression projects embed high quality, open access music making in a grass roots community organisation where regular music making is not currently happening. They are usually attached to an educational offer that already exists, for example a supplementary school, homework club or holiday programme. Typically the additional musical offer is between 30 - 60 minutes per week for each participant.
Progression projects are long term and enable staff and volunteers to build relationships with participants and families. Through establishing a culture of music making and its associated benefits within the familiar and tailored environment of a grass roots organisation they aim to engender a desire and confidence to pursue further music making amongst participants and their families.
Projects are led by a music leader and a musical progression manager with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Progression beyond the projects is supported by the musical progression manager who facilitates pathways for participants to next step opportunities by liaising with arts organisations keen to welcome participants from diverse communities.
We’ve found that this way of working, in partnership with community, grassroots and non arts based organisations enables us to reach families who might not otherwise engage. Community organisations such as Action for Refugees in Lewisham, Refugee Action Kingston and Love to Learn homework club have established relationships with local families and are already supporting them to access additional support – this takes the burden off Fairbeats! to reach and recruit participants.
A Fairbeats Stew.
There’s no recipe for this special stew written down... and to be perfectly honest it turns out different every time, more delicious and nutritious than the last. That’s why it’s a favourite, and why it’ll keep coming around again.
To start with, you need to have all your ingredients prepared...
Your meat pieces, the steady base of the stew sizzling in the pan that really get the show on the road.
Stock. (AFRIL comes highly recommended.)
An unusual mixed bag of lentils- very rare as every single one of them is different, not only in their form or where they come from but on how they are cooked.
Vegetables: for additional colour and support.
Spices, added along the way.
A lot of background preparation completed in the tenderising of the meat and stock, means that you can start cooking pretty much straight away. Add the lentils and vegetables.
Throughout the cooking of weekly sessions, something magic happens. The juice of each ingredient infuses the other and music appears each ingredient bringing something new to the mix. Of course the variety in lentils can sometimes be tricky, some being hard, some sticking to the side of the pan, however what is always amazing to see how even these lentils suck in the juices one way or another.
The spices never forgotten come in the form of training sessions, and evaluations; unforgettable and really helpful, bringing new ideas and keeping the stew fresh and interesting.
Finally finished, it is shared as a dish amongst others throughout the year- at an end of term party or in Festivals. It is always wonderfully received but as any chef will tell you, the joy of the meal, comes in the making as much as the eating.
Whilst munching its always important to reflect, to hear what all the ingredients have to say, and see if everything is ok, if there’s anything that can be improved on for the next stew, or if any particular lentil needs more attention, or even to bring new ideas to add to the pot next time. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of cooking the stew. The level of communication and reflection done, to further the stews flavour, is in my opinion what makes the Fairbeats stew so special.
This quote comes from one of the carrots involved in this year’s stew:
“It has truly been a wonderful year. I’ve learnt so much from the whole dish. The lentils are hard not to get too attached to, as they are such interesting and lively beings. The support and chances given to lead have been brilliant. It’s showed me the importance of both roles. The communication, idea sharing and feedback have meant that I have really felt a team member and part of the stew. This would not have been possible without the brilliant facilitation and organisation of the tasty and reliable base. The taste has improved throughout the year of this fine dish and I can wholeheartedly recommend trying to get involved in it next year.”
Pathfinders: progression routes in music for young refugees; asylum seekers and new migrants (originally published: Youth Music Network) By Catherine Carter
Along with Jenn Raven, I set up Fairbeats! Music. We work with children from refugee, asylum seeking and new migrant families in Kingston and Lewisham. We’ve been engaged in this work for nearly four years and we’ve just been registered as an independent charity (until now we’ve worked in partnership with Action for Refugees in Lewisham and Refugee Action Kingston). Over the last year I have written a research project for the Sound Connections Children in Challenging Circumstances network about the work we have been doing to support the children at AFRIL and RAK to get involved with music beyond these refugee community organisations. It’s been a fascinating and enlightening process which has enabled us to reflect on what we do and to plan for the future.
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:
You can read the full report and the fact sheets by following this link: http://www.sound-
Volunteering with Fairbeats has taken me right back to the reasons that I first started playing an instrument. Knowing, feeling and hearing for yourself that you can make a beautiful sound and navigate the mysterious codes of an instrument to make it sing, is something special. Personally, I first experienced that feeling as a child when I found and managed to play my Dad’s dusty old Clarinet at the back of a wardrobe.
It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to be part of the Fairbeats! music classes on a Saturday morning in Lewisham. I had no idea there was so much musical fun and learning taking place in my local area.
I’ve been supporting Jenn who teaches fife to children who attend the Action for Refugees in Lewisham’s Rainbow Club. Fife is basically a beginner’s flute and recently I’ve been supporting the children who are picking up the instrument for the very first time to learn how to hold it and how to make a sound.
Fife is not the easiest instrument to get a note out of, not like a recorder that peeps with minimal effort. It demands patience, perseverance and plenty of experimentation from the children as well as from us as teachers. That’s what makes it all the more rewarding when the children progress, be it sounding their first note, mastering moving their fingers in time to play a melody or managing the extremes of the register.
These may seem like teeny tiny steps, but as the children achieve musical challenges they grow in confidence, stand taller and seem to feel more excited by their own musical creativity.
As the children come from varied ethnic backgrounds, some start with little or no English at all. Working with Fairbeats! has shown me the impact of taking a purposefully inclusive approach to music-making. Jenn uses visual prompts, clear action-based instructions and physical movement to support the children to become confident learners and grasp musical principles such as rhythm and pitch. Her approach offers the children who speak less English the opportunity to be part of something special that doesn’t rely on their English language ability. To a certain extent learning a musical instrument may even be equipping the children with an alternative voice.
Bringing music-making opportunities to people who might not otherwise easily access them is at the heart of Fairbeats’ vision. It’s very inspiring work and the sparkle in the children’s’ eyes when they finally get the sound they were aiming for makes for very special Saturday mornings.
Esther Trewinnard is a Trainee Workshop Leader with Fairbeats! in Lewisham. Esther also works as a Communications Officer for International Development Agency Progressio and is studying on the MA Music in Development
The Horniman museum is the meeting place for thousands of secret and magical worlds that are all carefully shoved into one place. It’s more informative and stimulating than the internet could ever be; every nook and cranny thoughtfully filled with something that grabbed Mr Horniman’s attention whilst he travelled to distant lands. There is colourful tribal wear. There are puppets. There is an Aquarium. There are stuffed animals (including a Walrus that frequently holidays). And there, in sheer abundance, are musical instruments from all around our diverse world.
Having been to the Horniman before with our Fairbeats kids, we were excited to finally get our mits on the musical exhibits. The kids (and adults) got to try out all the instruments, subsequently picking their favourites. This music sharing was really special as our Fairbeats mothers joined in. One mother picked out a shaker from Nigeria (her homeland) that symbolized parties and carnivals. Another picked out an Indian instrument that was made from recycled spoons, as she liked the high, soft sound of it.
In the afternoon we went on an adventure to the Sound Garden. For the warm-up we were conductors, each taking it in turns to lead our own musical piece using our drum orchestra (each child to one pitched drum). I taught them signals for loud and soft, spikey and smooth, and they turned out to be true pros at bringing off the orchestra all together. I find conducting exercises useful for group focus, developing leadership and for simply encouraging kids to take ownership of their music, and create what they want to hear.
As well as nine pitched drums, the Sound Garden had huge Xylophones and various other instruments that were fun to hit. I decided I wanted to cover as much literal ground as was possible. There was only one way this could be achieved- we were going to have to be musical detectives. The Fairbeats lot were given a clue that they had to solve, for example, ‘Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky…What am I?’ Once solved, the kids sped away trying out various instruments. The results were very imaginative and thoughtful- even though they all had different answers they were all able to justify their findings (just like a true detective).
The museum really has an explorer feel; everything from the range of artifacts to the green setting with the London skyline as a backdrop. The kids were perfect explorers- never too shy to try one of the instruments as the excitement and anticipation for the sound was just too much. It really was a great day- especially as we had the Mother Explorers join the Fairbeat Music Gang.
Fairbeats ukulele leader
Catherine Carter is co-founder of Fairbeats! music.
Sophie Lusty is one of the Fairbeats! trainees for 2014-15. Sophie is a final year undergraduate at Trinity Laban studying the oboe. She recently spent a year living in Vienna as part of the Erasmus exchange project and looks forward to continued work with Fairbeats! and in music education generally in the future.
is a Trainee Workshop Leader with Fairbeats! in Lewisham. Esther also works as a Communications Officer for International Development Agency Progressio and is studying on the MA Music in Development
A member of the Fairbeats! team, Lucy is also a keen writer and has written and performed one-woman comedy shows in the Edinburgh Fringe as well as the FourTune blog. Lucy is a passionate music workshop leader; writing educational songs for schools, beat-boxing with refugees and singing war-time classics with the elderly.