The Heart of the Matter: Starting a New Music Project

Yorkshire Youth and Music has a history of creating and running projects that go on to become established musical programmes that continue long after the life of the initial phase of work and funding is complete.

But we’re also a company that is keen to seek out new opportunities with potential. Whether it is an idea created by our director, Gail Dudson, a project working in collaboration with specialist musicians, an organisation with little musical experience coming to us for advice and support or an idea brought to us by an independent facilitator, we are open to all of these new possibilities.

So what is the heart of the matter this month?

Embedding a higher quality of music making, a better standard of living, better facilitation skills and increased engagement into the everyday lives of the young people and staff we work with (in schools, music services, youth justice centres and other community organisations) is a long term goal for each of our projects, but it all has to start somewhere

We begin every project idea by looking at what is currently provided in each setting and plan our project around what we hope to achieve through making music. Obviously, we need support in the form of funding to make our projects happen. In a future Heart of the Matter, we will go into more detail on how we raise money for musical projects, but briefly, we apply to national funders with our idea and we talk to partner organisations who are involved in the project to put together a pot of money that will cover the cost for a set number of sessions over a given time period, such as an academic year.

Good ideas are few and far between, but we definitely know a flash of inspiration when we see one and the idea for our latest project is no exception. Our facilitator (who we’ll call A, to protect her identity), initially came to us with a proposal to create a set of music making sessions to engage with and improve the life chances of mothers in secure accommodation, who are held in such facilities with their babies. Mothers in secure units, with children up to 18 months old, serve out their sentences with their children until they are released, or their children are sent into temporary care.

A is a trained Social Worker with many years of experience in family work, in addition to her music skills. Managers of the facility in which A planned to work supported the project, identifying babies development, mothers’ motivation and confidence and better family bonding as benefits of the activities. This all contributes to better future life chances for children, renewed determination from mothers about not re-offending, and the motivation of identifying educational and social goals by mothers for themselves and their families.

The project seeks to encourage mothers to connect with their babies through music, in ways they may not have experienced before. Not only does the project give early musical experiences to disadvantaged young children, it gives their mothers a set of skills and increased confidence to potentially live their lives in a different way going forwards. This is a challenging project as it requires experience in both Early Years and Youth Justice settings (most of the mothers are young people themselves). But because we have experience in both, and because of our confidence in the skills and the proposal put forward by A, we felt that the project had real potential to create lasting change for these young mothers and their children.

Taking on challenging projects that create opportunities for children and young people who wouldn’t normally receive them (i.e. learning and making music alongside a supportive group of peers) is one of our core values, and even though there are many factors involved in setting up something from scratch, the benefits tend to outweigh any setbacks. We aim to balance our programme of work by running established projects, whilst allowing room for fantastic new ones!

We are pleased to report that the project is now up and running, and we have already seen improvements in the mothers who are taking part. We will definitely keep you up to date on how the project develops in the future.
YY&M creates music education projects for children and young people in a range of severely challenging circumstances
. In order to provide meaningful musical experiences for these young people, we make decisions that get to the heart of both their needs and what makes a good musical project. We want to share the hows and whys with YOU, our readers, in a feature on our website (and our bulletin) called ‘Heart of the Matter‘. Each month over the course of 2019, we will reveal how our work gets to the real heart of what music education means to us.

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