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Highlights from 2019!

It's been a busy year for Made with Music and as the year comes to an end I felt I needed to put some thoughts down! Kathryn and I have been so grateful to so many people who support us and encourage us, it's often difficult to make decisions and keep on track when we want to say yes to everything that comes our way. We genuinely care about everyone we meet and work with but that doesn't always make for the best business model!! Shout out to our board who have been available for helping make decisions about what and who to prioritise, they've also done a great job with policy making. We've worked with some brilliant people who last year were colleagues but now we'd call friends, here's to working more in partnership and building each other up.

We've grown as a charity loads this year and started some great new projects as well as developing some of our regular work. It's been great to constantly have full early years classes, this is where we started and we've loved meeting new families as well as welcoming those back with new additions.

A highlight for me has been a new project working at The Mount, part of the NHS foundation, running a 10 week project with mums experiencing post natal depression. What a privilege to get to know these vulnerable women who wanted to make music with their babies as they knew it would help them bond and get out of the house. The Mount have a great team of professionals supporting mums (and now dads) but as ever their budgets and resources are stretched so we are delighted and thankful to say that because the project was so successful, they have committed to the project next year. We heard of an awful experience one of the mums had; she was a member of a choir but when she became poorly, was asked to leave. It got us thinking about how we can support the mums after the 10 week project and thanks to funding from Leeds Inspired, in 2020 we will be starting a family choir for families who have used the service to continue to sing together. We'll work with other local choirs, sharing knowledge and tips on how to make their groups more inclusive and accessible for families experiencing post natal depression.

2019 also saw the launch of Memories Made with Music, our intergenerational singing project kindly funded by the Helping Hand Fund through Leeds Community Foundation. In a society which often feels quite isolating and lonely to so many, I have loved seeing people of all ages interact through a love of music. Again, we are really grateful that we've secured funding to continue the project next year. We can often get caught up in a bubble of loving everything we do but when others acknowledge it's good too, by agreeing to fund it, we are encouraged.

Another project I loved was creating a musical story along the canal as part of the &Piano Festival. It was great to rehearse something with Kathryn (voice) and Chris (piano) where I got to play something on my flute other than twinkle twinkle little star!

The mini-gigs have continued to be a success and for me, it is probably the greatest project we have produced - I get to listen to live music with my own family and see others enjoying it too. We continue to make them accessible and this is something which has spread into the rest of our work. If we are producing something, it is a priority to make it inclusive and accessible. We’ve had help from SCOPE to get their Quality Inclusion Mark which has helped us to do this.

We ended our working year with a lovely evening at 21 Co (Sunshine and Smiles - Leeds Down Syndrome Network) with some carols, mulled wine and mince pies. What a joyful evening!

Looking forward, I'm mainly excited but it often feels a bit overwhelming with the amount of work we have to do. We’d love to see Made with Music reach more people but can't quite see how we will grow bigger than just the 2 of us, and our brilliant group of freelancers - watch out 2020, we are coming for you (in a gentle all inclusive kind of way!!)

Things I've learnt:

  • It's ok to say no

  • How to describe what we do (still room for improvement!)

  • We can't be everything to everyone

  • It's ok to ask for help

  • We've still got a lot to learn but also willing to share our expertise with others

  • A few more chords on the ukulele!

What has been your Made with Music highlight?

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