Everyone deserves music

Published on 24 Apr 2014

Everyone deserves music is the title of a conference I’ll be chairing end of April (Community music conference, Gateshead, 29 April). It’s also a good slogan. Music is the way we express our identity and how we relate to the world, especially where the written or spoken word is inadequate or unavailable. As human beings we need music just as we need food, shelter and warmth. And it is as utilitarian; we use it to celebrate and commemorate, to make as much war as love, to soothe and to rile, to remember and to look forward.

People who are vulnerable, living in disadvantage, who have physical or mental health issues, or otherwise live in challenging circumstances can especially benefit from taking part in respectful, appropriate music making. Case studies describe the wide range of health, social, community and wellbeing issues that respond positively to music interventions. But it’s clear that "everyone" isn’t getting the music they deserve.

Here at Sound Sense we’re seeking to change that - with your help. Care home or day centre manager? We know you’ve already got too much on your plate - but what if we could show you that music could help you directly? Centres making music write up fewer incident reports than others. Activities coordinator: is your budget stretched? Top quality work is essential for good outcomes, sure. But alongside professional community musicians let’s think about a new "new type of worker" - the care worker as musician (ever asked your workers what other skills they have?) This isn’t a win win, it’s a win win win: the care workers get to use enjoyable skills in the workplace; your users benefit from the music they deserve; your activities budget is used not for a one-off activity but to build new creative capacity into your co-workers.

How can we make this real? Only by cooperation and collaboration. Care settings and community music go hand in hand - we both want the same outcomes for our users and participants. I look forward to your stories about how you are making music successfully in your settings. But (because this is where the learning really is) crucially where you are not. In return, I can explore ways of helping you make more and better music. Because, well everyone deserves music.