But is it any good? Understanding music work with children in challenging circumstances.
Phil Mullen, United Kingdom
But is it any good? Understanding music work with children in challenging circumstances. In England, since 1999, the charity The National Foundation for Youth Music has developed non-formal music provision with children and young people, particularly and increasingly those in challenging circumstances. Through their efforts, projects and programmes have developed, grown and sustained, all across the country. These programmes are working with young people affected by a range of challenges from rural isolation to those suffering from behavioural, emotional, and social difficulties. At time of writing Youth Music invest in the region of £10 million per annum in these programmes. When match funding is taken into account this represents a significant investement of arts funding into this area of work.
This paper, informed by evaluation reports of Youth Music programmes written by the author and others, inquires into the specifics of music provision with these children. It raises such questions as what approach do music leaders take and why, how do they know if the work is of good quality and how can children’s progression be measured.
The paper takes into account the differences between non-formal and formal music education, in particular the twin factors of the holistic nature of non-formal provision with its emphasis on musical but also personal and social outcomes, and also the emphasis on creative music making within the non-formal sector.
BiographyPhil Mullen got into the music business through punk rock, had a career in rock bands in the 1980s and became a community musician in 1985. He is now one of the world’s leading Community Music trainers. He has worked for over thirty years developing music with people who suffer from social exclusion, including homeless people, offenders, through to seniors. Phil trained community musicians at Goldsmiths College, University of London, from 1990 to 2014. This was the first university-based programme of training in this field. He also set up the first MA in community music outside England, at Limerick in Ireland in 1999. Phil is a former board member of the International Society for Music Education (ISME) and former chair of the ISME commission on Community Music Activity. He has run workshops and seminars on community music and creativity in 26 countries across Europe, North America and Asia as well as in South Africa, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand. He also works all across England training music teachers and community musicians in musical inclusion. He has an MA in Community Music from York University and is studying for a PHD in Winchester University.