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What do we do all day? An update!

How’s everyone doing? Well, quite a lot has changed since our last ‘What do we do all day?’ blog! We know every second email is about the impact of the virus and that it’s all a little overwhelming to say the least. But we still want to update you on how we’re trying to continue the charity’s work through the social distancing period. We’d also love your views and advice on what’s working and what’s not - it’s so important to stay in touch and we really miss everyone that we usually work with!

So the last few weeks… We both have friends in Italy and Spain and through talking to them, we had an idea of what might be coming our way and a chance to have a few thoughts before it did (luckily for us as we haven’t been able to do much at all since schools finished!) We recorded some videos of our songs and a couple of early years classes, as well as being able to run a live early years class together before the schools shut and social distancing rules came in. None of the videos are perfect, but we decided it was better than nothing! We also wrote to Arts Council England who agreed that we could look into streaming our gigs and we talked to Kirkstall Abbey about starting an offline postcard project for our intergenerational groups.

Our very first thought was that so many of the people that we work with are isolated anyway and we were worried about how everyone would feel during these extended periods at home. Then we had a small panic about the fact that the charity and everyone who works with and for us was about to lose all income for the foreseeable future. We knew that Made with Music couldn’t just disappear, so we’ve tried to come up with a plan that provides regular content for our potentially isolated Made with Music extended family without overpromising, as we all have our own family commitments too. Accessibility is at the core of our organisation, so we’ve also been trying to learn quickly about best practice online to stay true to our values – if you have any top tips, please get in touch!

So, what’s happening now? We’re trying to run the following digital content every week to support all of the projects that were happening before social distancing:

Mondays: #MondaysMadeCalm – we’re sharing pre-recorded calming pieces of music so that everyone has a moment to breathe – we’d love it if you can share yours too – we’ll quickly have some lovely calming playlists on YouTube and Facebook for you to listen to.

Tuesdays: Live or pre-recorded early years classes at 10.30am by one of the brilliant musicians that we work with – everyone is taking it in turns so that no one has too much to commit to (some of our children are helping too when they can!) You can watch them all again here.

We also recorded a session and held a YouTube watch party for Weetwood Primary School where we work every other week so that they can still sing some of the songs we were practicing and we’ll try to do some more.

We’re developing some content based on our family choir sessions at The Mount so that we can share those with you too.

Thursdays: #NewMusic – recordings of some of the songs that we’ve written shared at 10.30am so that you can practice and sing along – we’d love it if you could draw a picture based on the song and send it into us so that we can share it!

We usually work at The Mount on Thursdays and we’re thinking of everyone that we work with there too – we’ve got the early years live classes on Tuesdays which are similar to what we run, but if there’s anything you’d like us to produce specifically, please get in touch and let us know.

Saturdays: We’re running our regular Sunshine and Smiles – Leeds Down Syndrome Network sessions on Zoom – we’ve had two so far and we’ve loved seeing everyone joining in.

Sundays: #MiniGigs – one of the acts from our previous mini-gigs will play for you at 3pm on YouTube and Facebook – we’d love it if you can tune in. Thanks to Kris Halpin, the gigs are captioned and last around half an hour. You can watch any time afterwards and put together your own gigs with your favourite three performers – don’t forget to let us know your dream gig!

We’re obviously aware that not everyone is online, so offline we’re running a postcard project as part of our Youth Music funded intergenerational project, Memories Made with Music. Part of the project involves collecting responses from participants on what items from Kirkstall Abbey’s Memory Boxes make them think of in terms of memories and music so that we can build some of these into our sessions. Each postcard has four pictures on the front from one of the boxes and some questions. We provide a piece of paper to send back the answers in a pre-paid envelope and when we get them, the next postcard is sent out with a note. There are five postcards in total and we’re looking forward to see what everyone writes. We’ll be able to send collections of responses if we’re still in isolation when the five postcards have been sent out to continue the correspondence and sharing of ideas between adults and children. You can access digital copies of the postcards on our website too if you’d like to join in with looking at the photos or printing any off for relatives.

What can you do to help us?

We hope that all of these activities will bring music and connection into as many homes as possible and help to ease the isolation of social distancing in some ways. There are also some things you could do that would really help us, if you have time:

1. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel here and ask all of your friends to do the same – once we get a certain number of subscribers, YouTube considers paying us… worth a try!

2. Liking, commenting and sharing our posts on any of our social media channels really helps – even one-word or emoji comments get our content seen by more people.

3. Sending in your drawings, paintings, photos and videos really means a lot to us and we love being in touch with you and hearing what you’ve been up to - we want to feel connected too as we miss you :)

4. Let us know if you can think of any ways in which we can be more accessible for you and if you have any ideas for content – we’ll try our best to take all your ideas on board (though we’ll still be working within the limited time that we have)

5. And finally, if you can, please donate to support our work here – we really believe in and love the range of work that we do bringing live music to families and we’d love it to continue once the social distancing period has ended, but we really need your donations to ensure this can happen. We have gift cards available on our website if you’d like to buy a donation as a gift (we'll try to get around to updating the site with all of our work at some point too...) Thank you so much to everyone who has already made a donation.

Hope to see you all really soon.

Stay safe

Kathryn & Hannah x

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