Understanding community music – can you help?

About five years ago, a group of musicians and academics set up an international research platform to foster understanding of the social impact of music making. The people involved have decades of commitment to the idea that music can transform people’s life chances. They’ve worked in difficult, sometimes dangerous situations, and published important research that extends and challenges knowledge in this field. The annual SIMM-posium – the latest will be next month in Brussels – is a vital showcase for socially-engaged music projects.  I admire the project’s rigour, its global reach and that it values academic and experiential knowledge, and I’ve done what I can to help SIMM, including being a member of its board. 

Some of the people involved in SIMM have begun an ambitious research project into the ‘contexts, work and beliefs’ of practitioners making music for social impact. It’s an important effort to get beyond simple ‘feel-good’ stories and understand who is involved in this work, their reasons for doing it, and the realities they face, as well as the results they achieve. And to do that, the researchers need the help of as many people who work in socially-engaged music making as possible.

If that’s you, please consider responding to the project survey. It is detailed and, and I can’t promise you’ll do it in five minutes. But they’re good questions that will probably make you think about your work, and that’s a good thing in itself. Just as importantly, you’ll contribute to research that aims to be influential in years to come, and the voice of those making music for social change needs to be heard. 

The link to the survey is here: MUSIC FOR SOCIAL IMPACT – UK The deadline for responding is 30 November 2020.

I know that the pandemic has been a brutal time for musicians. Performing, teaching and community work are all suspended, and with them the earnings on which millions depend. I know the anger and desperation many people feel about how inadequately government has responded to this crisis. And of course I know that filling in a research survey may seem especially tiresome or pointless in these circumstances.  But community music in all its forms is a vital – literally, ‘life-giving’ – resource with which our communities can recover and rebuild. Deepening our understand of why it matters so much to so many is a critical step towards supporting that.

So if you have the time and the headspace to fill in the survey, please add your voice. And if you know other people who could contribute, please pass on the invitation. Thanks for reading and best wishes.

  • The image above is by Graham Wynne courtesy of More Music (Lancashire)