Hear My Voice, Share My Song

Hear My Voice, Share My Song
Hear My Voice, Share My Song
Hear My Voice, Share My Song
Hear My Voice, Share My Song logo

‘Hear My Voice, Share my Song’ was a unique pilot intergenerational music project, taking place in Northumberland Heath, Bexley. It involved children aged five and under and their parents, a local pre-school nursery, and older people living in the area. The project was designed to share and exchange the cultural and musical understanding of participants, whilst developing a shared musical experience between the generations. The project aimed to create a love of informal and spontaneous music-making at home between parents and their children, foster local community relations and social wellbeing, and promote cohesion within Northumberland Heath.

It took place between September and December 2015 over ten sessions at Age UK Bexley’s Wellbeing Centre in Northumberland Heath. The first two were designed as taster sessions, after which, people were invited to sign up to the remaining eight sessions as a complete project.

Funded by: Sound Connections Innovate Fund
Duration of project: September – December 2015
Project leader: Olivia McLennan, Freelance Community Musician
Project assistants and volunteer team:
Catherine Elsen
Clare Sulch
Paul O’Neil
Rebecca Makis
Rona Topaz

Partner organisations:
Northumberland Heath Children’s Centre
Northumberland Heath Nursery
Age UK Bexley

There were six intended outcomes of the project:

  1. Participants will gain an increased knowledge and awareness of songs derived from their local community through a new opportunity for structured group music-making and interaction with others from their community.
  2. Participants will gain increased skills in using informal music-making and singing at home as a family by participating in weekly group activities.
  3. Participants will experience a greater social connectedness with others in their community through taking part in weekly structured sessions.
  4. Participants will develop self-confidence and raised self-esteem through attending regular group singing activities and achieving within that context.
  5. The project will develop my practice as a community musician.
  6. The project will create links between different sector organisations in Bexley and enable a specific and organised Intergenerational music project.

Details of the project participants

The target population were families with children in the Early Years (under 5s), a local pre-school nursery and older people living in the area. We recruited them to the project via the partner organisations in the project and local advertising such as posters, social media and word of mouth. Initially, it wasn’t intended for the nursery to attend, but low numbers prompted a re-think of recruitment strategy.

Project management

There was one project manager who was also the lead facilitator. She was ultimately responsible for project design, acquiring funding, recruitment, training and support of project assistants and volunteers, plus devising monitoring and evaluation strategies. There were 2 project assistants to support the music delivery and creative direction and 3 volunteers who assisted with the musical activities and general running of the sessions.

The project manager and lead facilitator is trained to a high standard in community music and participatory arts and regularly trains others to deliver interventions with older people and Early Years. The assistants were experienced community musicians wishing to develop their practice. The volunteers were also experienced in session delivery and working with the target groups.

The project was funded via Sound Connections and supported in kind via Northumberland Heath Children’s Centre and Age UK Bexley. This enabled us to offer the sessions to participants for free.

Attendance was purely elective and participants gave their permission for photographs and recordings to be made and disseminated in various ways (via signed consent forms). All volunteers and project staff were DBS checked and had basic training in safeguarding protocols for the project.

Evaluation methods and findings

A range of data collection methods were used which included baseline and endpoint questionnaires (using adaptations of standardised tools ), weekly feedback postcards (which could include drawings, writings, or anything else participants wanted to use), photos and videos, verbal feedback, a pictorial feedback method, and the Early Years Musical Assessment Scales .

The main conclusions that can be drawn are:

  1. 1There is a positive impact on attendees- Although the sample is small, those that consistently attended stated that they enjoyed themselves, made connections, felt part of a group and learned new music. Therefore, it is a concept that could be delivered in other contexts in future.
  2. Sharing musical and cultural identities fostered acceptance and connection within the group, Every song was accepted, regardless of what it was or where it came from, and this helped to build and develop relationships.
  3. Smaller music delivery team, but the role of volunteers is crucial, Fewer music leaders (ideally no more than 2 in total) brings creative consistency to the sessions. However, the administration of each session needs to be supported by other people such as volunteers.
  4. The sessions should balance time for free musical play and group work to help foster relationships and create musical moments - Opportunities for participants to lead musically should also be included to create group ownership and empower individuals.
  5. Supervision can be crucial to project leader(s) - This helped the project coordinator gain a different perspective and discuss any managerial issues. It also helped some of the project team move into reflective practice more deeply.
  6. Strong partnership work necessary to enable success - Keen stakeholders are absolutely essential to viability and sustainability.
  7. Baseline and endpoint questionnaires are useful, but only with a consistent participant group.  There was not enough consistent attendance to gather meaningful data, but the responses that were received were interesting to read.
  8. Regular opportunity for feedback from participants is essentia.  Not only do you learn a lot about people’s experiences during the sessions, people often say things after the sessions that they weren’t comfortable saying in the sessions, and this can help shape planning.
Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England