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Drum and Brass are using arts to bring communities together

Funding has enabled Mini Music to bring together parents and carers and their preschool children through musical experiences. They have catered for up to 10 families each week, reaching around 16 families over the course of the first 6 months of the project at Manor House Neighbourhood Centre.

Most parents / carers involved have been women, although three fathers have also attended sessions. Mini Music sessions are held once a week on Mondays from 1.30 until 3pm. The session involves an hour of singing, exploring musical instruments and moving together. Their key objective is for the parents and carers to learn how to support their child’s language and social development through music and having fun with other children.

Then there is time for the adults to get to know each over refreshments as they relax and support their children in exploring sensory materials such as bubbles, sand and sensory books. Families whose children attend St Mary’s Fields Primary School are the main target participants, and these families come from a wide range of ethnic groups. The population of the area comprises white working class British people, people from Asia including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey and people from Eastern Europe.

The publicity leaflets include the word “welcome” written in a wide range of languages used locally. The musical instruments have been chosen to try to reflect the musical traditions of those ethnicities. The approach is child centred. As well as singing traditional British songs and rhymes, parents and carers are encouraged to share songs and rhymes from their cultural backgrounds with the group, so we can all learn words in another language showing respect for the languages, cultural traditions and faiths of all involved. Participants have been involved in regular evaluations, to ensure their opinions are heard and their needs are met.

Drum and Brass is a community interest company that uses music as a medium for improving wellbeing, language learning and community cohesion. They bring neighbours together, increasing the sense of trust, safety and happiness in those who take part. The sessions support the development of the children’s social and communication skills through the enjoyment of action rhymes and songs together and improves their readiness for starting school. To make the project sustainable they invite the participants to make a voluntary contribution of £3 per family with no pressure- in order to make the sessions fully inclusive. This also means that grant funding is needed to make the project viable.