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An honest blog as we step into another lockdown...

What a year we have had so far. Our last blog post was back in April and May this year where we launched ourselves into the first lockdown whilst trying to home school our kids and maintain a regular level of activity on social media. To be honest, it was exhausting but when you are running a small charity and you don’t want it to disappear, we both wanted to work hard to make sure that Made with Music would still exist once this is all over (whenever that may be…please be soon!)

We both took some of August off, which was so welcome for so many reasons but we were getting really tired and being on screen all day wasn’t great for either of us, particularly Kathryn’s eyesight.

September was a new start. The children were back in school and there were so many discussions about whether to start sessions again in person. We both felt a little nervous about doing this and seeing the way things have gone, we are pretty glad we decided to stay online!  We are very much people, people and so we didn’t make this decision lightly. Some of the groups we have been working with online, like Sunshine and Smiles, have thrived from being in their home environments for the sessions; we’ve loved seeing the whole family get involved in their living rooms. But of course, it hasn’t been this way for everyone participating. We are committed to making all of our work fully accessible and a lot of this comes down to our attitude, how we deliver a session and the ability to read a room. This is quite difficult when there are 10 different “rooms” on your screen!  Having said that, the feedback we have had is positive and generally people are grateful for something familiar to engage with.

As well as continuing with our Facebook lives on a Tuesday mornings, we have started early years music classes on zoom which so far are going really well. It’s been an opportunity to meet new faces who haven’t been able to attend our classes in person for various reasons and also see some familiar faces who we would normally see regularly. We have also started up our baby class with the perinatal mental health team working with mums experiencing post-natal depression. This was a new project, started in 2019, but because of Covid, had to take a pause while they worked out the best way to move forward and still support these mums in the middle of a pandemic.  How much more do new mums need support at the moment?  We are so glad we are able to make music with this group each week.

Whilst we don’t have all the travelling and not as many projects going on, I’m tired and a bit lonely.

Tired of tidying my house so others on zoom can’t see how chaotic life is. Tired of being positive ALL the time – don’t get me wrong, it is so brilliant that we can make music with families online, but I miss seeing people and having time to chat. I’m tired of worrying about my internet connection or worrying there will be a knock on the door in the middle of a session. I’m tired of worrying about the financial side of being in a job that I love but wondering if it is sustainable now that donations have started to dwindle with people back at work and nursery.

But there is hope.

I know that I am in a privileged position to be able to carry on making music with families – it’s just very different and sometimes it’s hard.  People are in touch planning projects with us for next year in person and so many of you have been in contact to say thank you for putting content online when lots of activities have been cancelled. A friend recently told me she’d put our Mondays Made Calm playlist on YouTube whilst doing an assignment and it was great to not have to make the choice of what to listen to, but to just enjoy the variety of music on there.

We have also had time to write new music. We have recently been reminded of so many things to be grateful for with our new song “What makes you smile when you go outside”. You can listen to it here! We worked with LS29 special needs support group to write some new music and record it in the beautiful house and grounds of Ilkley Manor House.  We were supposed to be holding an accessible mini-gig for them this summer but was cancelled for obvious reasons so thought the next best thing would be to record some new music, as live, for them to enjoy from home.

So, in the midst of this second lockdown, we approach it with hope and we want to encourage you to think about and be grateful for the things that make you smile.  I’m going to try and think of a new thing every day!

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