In a recent study from Aarhus University in Denmark, music is shown to provide a unique context for creating and maintaining social bonds, particularly when it involves movement and active involvement. Music can bring people together and can be a vehicle for creating stronger social connections. And at Yorkshire Youth and Music, we know that Music Makes Lives Better.

Music can absolutely be used as a tool to foster social connection; in our experience, music making is a fantastic vehicle for significantly improving the lives of the challenged young people we work with. Our young people are better able to make stronger and healthier social connections because of what they learn in music making sessions; listening to others, analysing lyrics, expressing their own feelings through songwriting, learning how to play instruments and use technology, gaining confidence in their own abilities, trusting themselves and others (forming bands, for example) and performing together. In turn, they build better relationships with their music leaders, care and education staff, and with their friends and families, and build them more successfully. This ultimately gives them access to better and more structured support from the people around them, especially when things get tough. Loneliness (or ‘disconnection’) is one key factor in causing real and lasting harm to human beings, particularly where mental health is concerned. Music can be the first step in encouraging people, particularly children, to form a common bond with others. In our sessions, we want these young people to bond with facilitators who are not only supporting them in making music but are trained to support them through the challenges they face.

As some of our experienced facilitators have suggested in our conference conversations this year, music can be the key that unlocks the door to connect with the young people they encounter, breaking through the barriers that hinder these children from a ‘normal’ or healthier development into confident, independent adults.

We all know how shared experiences and shared passions can create lasting friendships. From the office or classroom conversations about last night’s TV that we used to share in person (and now share via social media), to our favourite film or Director, a painting or sculpture, a television drama… but participating in music-making with others seems to us to have more power to create meaningful and lasting connection.