What do we do all day?
Over the summer, my daughter became obsessed with an old Richard Scarry book that she found at her grandparents house called ‘What do people do all day?’ No one really knows what anyone else does all day, but we’ve been asked a lot recently about what we’re up to, so thought we’d share a week in the life of Made with Music in another blog!
Our first day back after no sessions over the summer started off with some family singing sessions at Feel Good Factor in Chapeltown for their open day. It was great fun singing along to all the song requests while people made beautiful books and signed up for all the fab wellbeing courses that happen there! We also got to meet the regional Makaton tutor for Yorkshire who offered to help us improve our signing in exchange for some shared singing resources (we’re all for skills exchanges which can be the best way to work with people when you’ve got limited financial resources). We want to get all the early years songs that we’ve written signed & recorded & up on social media this year – any requests, let us know!
So Tuesday afternoon, Hannah went to run Musical Mums in Harrogate and I went to the Brudenell Social Club for some help with a couple of funding applications that we’re putting in to continue making our gigs fully accessible (see our blog here for why we believe this is important for our gigs, and all of our work). We also made sure to check the sign ups to our regular classes & update the website with those that were full (there’s a lot of admin involved in running a charity - who knew?!).
Hannah & I had a planning meeting, which mainly involved writing a long to do list of things that had slipped behind over the holidays and divided up the jobs! Then we had a 3 hour rehearsal for our Family&Piano event on 21st September. It was so much fun working with Chris Pulleyn, the founder of &Piano festival in Slaithwaite creating a journey along the canal using pieces of music for piano, flute & voice. We spend a lot of time singing nursery rhymes & pop songs, so working on something different was a treat.
Our first session on a project for women with post-natal depression & their babies at the Mount in Hyde Park. We’ve been working with the community mental health nurses & funded by Arts and Minds to develop this pilot, with the hope of continuing as we’ve had positive feedback so far. The nurses have enjoyed it so much that they have requested whole staff training for non-specialist musicians so that they can run music sessions for inpatients & in our absence. This is exactly the kind of training we are passionate about providing as there’s no way we can be everywhere & we want everyone to have access to music! We arrived in plenty time to chat to everyone and get to know names, sang some jungle songs & then stayed for a cup of tea & a chat afterwards. Chatting is pretty fundamental to all of our work and we think it helps to make everyone feel more comfortable when they’re singing, so we always build in time for a cup of tea when planning new sessions.
Lunchtime was spent at the Town Hall making a walk-through video & taking photos for our picture guide to try to make the Beer Festival Family Day a little more accessible. Also, because I am visually impaired, I always make sure I’ve been to places before the first day I have to work there - if I didn’t I’d be tripping over every step & crashing into tables - it’s fairly hard to make other people feel comfortable if you are not feeling comfortable yourself!
On Thursday afternoon, we started working 1:1 with a 13 year old who loves music. We also took along Michael Dollan, a community musician who has specialist skills in working with disabled children using technology, he’s going to be giving us some advice and training on when technology can help to make what we do more accessible. We all loved the session, lots of harmonies, making up melodies on the spot and trying out different instruments. We then met with Michael for a couple of hours to look at apps and instruments, like the Skoog, so that we know when and how to incorporate them in the future. When you don’t have an office, it’s tricky to find somewhere to make a lot of noise. Luckily Skippko came to our rescue and let us have access to a disused office building in the centre of Leeds as part of their Blank Canvas scheme.
We spent the evening getting grant applications in for the mini-gigs.
Our day off! Well except for the school run, washing, cleaning, cooking, after school clubs and all the usual parenting tasks…
Every two weeks on a Saturday, we run a music group for Sunshine and Smiles, the Leeds Down’s Syndrome Network. Our first session back after the summer was for the younger group of under 8s and their parents and carers. We explored colours, learning the signs and singing songs using shakers, scarves, our names and listening to Ellii play the saxophone. The extra Makaton training is going to come in very handy for this group too!
The Leeds International Beer Festival Family Day. It’s always great to work at an event that our own families can come along to, as there’s something slightly odd about leaving your own children behind to put on a fun event for other people’s! We had an amazing time playing rhythms on cups and singing with all the families that came to join in with us. ‘Well that was wholesome’ was the first comment from the brewers in the tent with us who heard the same songs over and over again – not sure how we feel about that! We’d finished our workshops half way through the afternoon and got to hang out with our families, drink beer, eat food and enjoy the sun – a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Back to the admin – posters, flyers, website, emails, social media, future projects, grant applications, meetings, plans for sessions – you know the drill. I always try to fit in a bit of singing practice and some exercise before school pick up too, but that’s easier said than done!
Hope that gives you a bit of an insight into what we do, though it’s always changing and no two weeks are the same... We haven’t even mentioned our regular early years classes or our intergenerational singing as they didn’t start this week!
Let us know if you have any questions for us in the comments below. Kathryn x