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Lifemusic: Sounding out university community engagement

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The South East Coastal Communities programme that ran from 2008 to 2011 was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England with the aim of measuring the potential impact of knowledge exchange on the well-being of communities along the south coast of England. The University of Chichester was one of nine universities from the region participating in the programme that developed fifteen linked but discrete projects centred on social engagement and renewal. The Lifemusic (LM) project explored how participatory music can contribute to the well-being of people in a variety of contexts, including health and social care environments, schools, the migrant community and the workplace. The project was developed around a training and delivery model that equipped around 50 practitioners with the skills to deliver community workshops using the LM method. The university provided facilities, instruments and administrative support, and appointed an academic lead to organize the project, train practitioners, and conduct research and evaluation. A variety of evaluative approaches, designed to measure the impact of the sessions on the well-being of participants, were tested. The overall framework for evaluation employed across the programme was the so-called REAP 'metrix' tool with its emphasis on self-measurement and community empowerment. Trainees were chosen from the wider community, following a specially designed programme based on the LM method, and over 400 LM workshops were subsequently delivered by newly trained practitioners. The project generated significant feedback about community music-making, well-being and team building. The programme expanded community/university engagement, developed lasting partnerships and expanded the profile of community music. It raised questions about the status of community music within higher education music programmes, especially in relation to the canonic values that generally inform curriculum content, and partnered music with community agencies delivering health and social care.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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  • The International Journal of Community Music publishes research articles, practical discussions, timely reviews, readers' notes and special issues concerning all aspects of Community Music. The editorial board is composed of leading international scholars and practitioners spanning diverse disciplines that reflect the scope of Community Music practice and theory.
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