Music and Social Intervention Network - Excellence, inclusion and intervention in music: navigating contexts and building sustainable working practice

Lead Research Organisation: Royal College of Music
Department Name: Programmes


The project aims to explore inclusion and excellence, two key concepts that shape the field of community music and music education. Often used as indicators for measurements of success, and consequently further funding, these concepts have been principally used together as descriptors for many projects that involve participatory music making. The proposed network activities will extend our understanding of these ideas both philosophically and as they pertain to practice. It will encourage scholars to share how these notions are utilized in different fields of study and explore what methods are employed to judge whether they have been implemented successfully or not. For example, how do people working in the criminal justice system determine inclusivity? When employing a community musician how is this communicated - what are the differences and similarities between the two and how can both parties determine whether or not the project has excelled in this area?

We will do this by bringing together a wide range of practitioners and scholars to:

- Identify the current understandings of excellence and inclusion and how they are applied in practice;
- Unpick these understandings in order to see how useful they are to practitioners, service providers and funders, and to challenge the ways that they are currently used to measure the success of a participatory music project;
- Rebuild understandings of excellence and inclusion based on shared knowledge that can inform practitioners, service providers and funders and be used as a platform for further research and scholarship.

All of our networking events will be held in different parts of the UK enabling us to reach local professionals from London, York, and Glasgow. We will invite local people working within the areas connected to the network, including musicians, music educators, music therapists, those working in criminal justice, psychotherapy, health, and psychology to these events. Our intention is to include all participants in discussions and dialogue. Travel bursaries will be offered to doctoral students for attendance at the open debates. Sessions will always be planned to facilitate maximum collegiality ensuring that a multitude of voices will be heard.

The website hosted by the International Centre for Community Music (ICCM) will provide a continuing online forum for exploration and dissemination of thought surrounding inclusion and excellence in participatory music making. Encouraging contributions from those within the network, participants of the symposia and conference meetings, plus a broader invitation from the wider circles indicative of the various disciplinary representations, our aim will be to create a dynamic online space to not only aid the focused outcomes, such as journal articles, but also as an important 'text' itself that has a life beyond the network funding.

It will benefit network participants and other future users by:
- Providing a platform that enables practitioners at each sited event (London, York, and Glasgow) to share their experiences of inclusion and excellence;
- Providing an internationally useful online forum for discussions and information exchange, with links to relevant resources and other symposia opportunities;
- Fostering dialogue between academic constituencies and those from outside HEIs thereby enriching understanding of ways the key concepts can be employed within collaborative enterprises;
- Highlighting the problem of creating 'false' boundaries between fields of practice;
- Producing articulate statements regarding the key issues and potential approaches in addressing them.

Planned Impact

Community music is an emergent academic field that has seen an exponential growth in practices, courses, programs and research, as well as scholarly books, chapters and journal articles. This growth in practice and scholarship has also been reflected in organizations for community music such as the International Society for Music Education's Community Music Activities Commission, the Asia Pacific Community Music Network and Sound Sense the UK professional association. Within this context, new debates about the nexus of practice, pedagogy, research and ethics have been emerging and new voices have begun broadening the agenda to consider settings where community music is engaging in social justice, political activism, peace-making, health and wellbeing, and online engagement, amongst other fields. As an emergent field we have questions surrounding a potential demarcation of its boundaries at such a young point in its existence. Concepts intrinsic to unlocking what we perceive as a false sense of 'bounded practice' reside in the key concepts of inclusion and excellence. This makes it an ideal topic in which to find common ground between academic researchers invested in both its theory and practice, and those who engage with community musicians as part of their profession such as those working in the criminal justice system and health professions. Our aim is to foster discussions between these constituencies by creating an interdisciplinary space for practitioners and academics to share experiences, better understand present conditions, and look toward a working future together.

This is an interdisciplinary project and its academic beneficiaries will include musicians working in community, health, education, and criminal justice settings. It will also include those from the broader fields of criminal justice, psychotherapy, health, and psychology. Core network members will write papers and short position statements that will be distributed online. The network activities are organised strategically to envelope some key international conferences including the Research in Music Education and ISME conferences. A vital part of the dissemination process will be collating information on calls for papers for other conferences and symposia, and the core Network will create a co-ordinated strategy for submitting proposals such as round-table sessions and symposia at major conferences to maximise its impact.

Through our Network we will also be exposed to the mechanisms by which other disciplines already collaborate, for example those in social work and community music. These types of discussions will help reveal current 'silos' and point toward how they might manifest in the future, providing fuel for strategies to resist further compartmentalization and for clearer statements regarding interdisciplinary collaboration. In turn, this will lead to future collaborative research projects.

Bringing together academic audiences (academics, researchers, doctoral students) with non-academic audiences (community musicians, healthcare workers and social care workers) will foster cross-fertilisation of research and practice. As practitioners engage with research through the Network's activities, they will be encouraged to reflect upon their practice and identify areas that can be developed; thus allowing the network activities to permeate into practice. Likewise, through engaging with practitioners, researchers will be helped to develop new research questions relevant to practice. Thus the impact of the project will be two-way: research into practice, and practice informing research.
Description The key findings from the MUSOC research network project will be reported in a special issue of the International Journal of Community Music. In summary, these are:

1. In exploring the concepts of excellence, inclusion and intervention as they pertain to music and social projects, we identified three underlying issues that affect the way these concepts manifest, are used and are navigated in different contexts:
• Pedagogy - there is a misunderstanding of inclusive practices caused by focusing on the content of the practice (what music is made/taught/facilitated) rather than the form the practice takes (how the music is made/taught/facilitated). Analysing the pedagogy rather than the content provides a better way to understand inclusion. This also enables the effective education and training of community musicians;
• Power relations - the differences in the way interventions are used in different contexts is problematic for musicians moving between contexts. In community music, intervention leads to inclusion (the intervention as a forum for participation) whereas in education intervention leads to exclusion (groups of 'failing' students taken out of arts subjects so as to raise achievement in 'core' subjects). Rather than focusing on the terminology used, analysing the power relations at play both within the intervention and between the intervention and its wider context provides a way to understand the intervention in both musical and social terms.
• Impact and Measurement - the need to measure impact in order to evidence the inclusivity and excellence of funded projects is problematic. Identifying outcomes before the participants have been identified, and then measuring the success of a project against those outcomes is against inclusive pedagogical approaches. In addition, often the most impactful outcomes are either unseen or unmeasurable, and the culture of future funding being reliant on reporting positive findings clouds the reporting of negative outcomes. The skill of the community musician is to make their pedagogy invisible. New mechanisms are needed to view and articulate the hidden aspects of inclusive practice that lead to both positive and negative outcomes so as to fully understand impact.

2. Practitioners are engaged in the debate, and feel passionately about their practice. The way to shift the emphasis from the problematic labels of inclusion and excellence is through a reframing of practice. A thorough exploration of practices using the three underlying issues above as a framework would provide a mechanism to reframe practice.

3. There is a fine line between researchers and practitioners within the field of community music, and there is a two-way dialogue between research-led practice, and practice-led research. As with the concepts of inclusion and excellence, the field of community music itself is becoming more difficult to define as it reaches new contexts. Therefore rather than the content of the musical practice being the recognisable feature of community music, the defining factor of the field of community music could be this unique integration of research and practice.
Exploitation Route Those involved in the training of community musicians, either in education or in organisations, can look at ways of making their pedagogy visible (i.e. the way the facilitator works) and consider how to transfer their knowledge of effective facilitation to freelance community musicians as well as those in their employment.

Funders may consider ways that negative outcomes can be reported without implications - i.e. that the project has been unsuccessful if negative outcomes are reported.

Researchers could explore new mechansims for viewing and analysing the hidden, and often uncontrollable, aspects of inclusive practice so as to move away from an outcomes-only approach to evaluation.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education

Description Through interrogating the concepts of excellence, inclusion, and intervention, the practitioners working for third sector organisations who are participating in the network's activities are beginning to question how they describe their work. This can be seen in the perspectives submitted to and published on our online platform. One of the problems identified in moving between contexts as a musician is the different ways that the concepts of inclusion and excellence are interpreted and how the idea of intervention varies between different disciplines and organisations. With leading practitioners beginning to think about the way they describe their practice, understandings of the purpose of different music programmes and projects will become clearer. The findings of the MUSOC network have fed into the Music Commission report into progress and progression in music education. This report was published on 4th March 2019 - It aims to make a positive contribution to practice and recommendations include more partnership working to create shared understandings of inclusive practice and the establishment of research and knowledge exchange centres to create a channel for research to have a direct impact on policy and practice. This impact is the direct result of the PI (Dr Jennie Henley) of the MUSOC project being invited to supervise the Music Commission research programme, enabling the findings from the MUSOC network project to be disseminated directly via the Music Commission. The aim of the research network grant was to interrogate excellence and inclusion in order to create sustainable careers for artists working in various social contexts. In 2019/2020 Dr Jennie Henley (PI) and Dr Laura Caulfied (research network member) have engaged three charities and their funders in developing a project called Artists Care. This project will build on research related to how to support artists' health and wellbeing when working in potentially traumatic settings and seek to develop and implement organisational strategies for supporting artists. This is in response to artist attrition rates. The knowledge developed through the MUSOC project related to sustainable careers has directly impacted the development of this collaboration. Issues surrounding inclusivity and excellence flowing from the research were key in the development of Ethno Research an international project exploring transformational socio-cultural and musical significances for young people engaged in folk music camps. Two publication to date by Lee Higgins (CoI) make reference to the projects findings ( Explorations by Dr. Jo Gibson (research network member) on how we make music and Dr. Ruth Currie (research network member) on how arts policy is enacted within communities draw upon the research and contributed to their final PhD submissions. In 2019 Dr Jennie Henley (PI) moved to the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) to take up a Senior Management post. She has used the findings from the MUSOC project to inform a deep interrogation of issues of equality, diversity and inclusion within the RNCM and, as a result, to drive change in the wider Conservatoire and Music Higher Education sectors. She has fed her learnings from the MUSOC project into the development of a newly launched RNCM Strategic Plan based on responsibilities to students, music and society in order to shape the future of music ( To enact this strategic plan, Henley is leading curriculum change, addressing EDI issues within both curriculum and pedagogy and raising the value of careers in community music, music education, health and society settings, and beyond. This begins to address the problems of definitions of excellence and how they align with inclusion drawn out of the MUSOC project. As well as repositioning the curriculum and creating pathways that place value on all musical careers, this involves the development of an EDI curriculum design framework based on six imperatives, applying this to the curriculum through a major revalidation project, and embedding it into the institution through quality assurance processes and staff development. The new curriculum will be in place for the start of the 2021/22 academic year. A Theory of Change has been written, informed by the MUSOC project, and institutional commitment from the Board of Governors to the student body has been secured. Henley is disseminating this work through national networks - ConservatoiresUK and EDIMS (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Music Studies), leading change in Higher Music Education. Publications are planned to document the change process and disseminate the outcomes.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Creative Economy,Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

Description The Music Commission
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Description School of Performance and Media Production Research Funding
Amount £1,950 (GBP)
Organisation York St John University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 07/2018
Description International Centre for Community Music Debate - How Might Community Music Develop? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A discussion paper was given in a series organised by the International Centre for Community Music at York St John University. The debate engaged professional practitioners and postgraduate students and sparked discussion on the future of community music.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description MA Inclusive Music Education/Community Music two-day seminar on Inclusion, Inclusive Pedagogy and Social Justice 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The activity involved a two-day intensive study block covering Inclusion and Inclusive Pedagogy on the first day and Social Justice on the second day. The study block was attended by postgraduate students, all also being professional practitioners working in various social and educational contexts. The professors also attended the study block and inspired their teaching and research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description MA in Inclusive Music Education/Community Music Class 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A debate on inclusion in music performance education as part of an MA in Inclusive Music Education/Community Music class at Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. Using the video recorded from the September 2017 MUSOC network event, students engaged with the debate, adding to the interactive menti presentation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description MUSOC online platform 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We have set up an online platform using a public facing VLE hosted by the Royal College of Music. The platform has enabled us to upload videos of our public debates and embed a menti ( presentation to engage the audience in the debate. This menti is open for general public to submit responses. We have then uploaded perspectives from each of the members of the core network team, and encouraged the wider audience to view and respond to these. We have posted responses from the wider audience on the online platform. We receive monthly analytic reports demonstrating the amount of activity, the length of time people are engaging with the research perspectives, where they are based, etc. We are also using twitter during the public debates and between the events. We can correlate our twitter activity with spikes in engagement in the online platform. We are able to collect quantitative data of public engagement through both the analytics of the online platform and the menti presentation. The online platform can be found here:
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
Description Master of Education Study Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A 3-hour debate on inclusion in music performance education as part of an RCM Master of Education study day. Using the video recorded from the September 2017 MUSOC network event, students engaged with the debate, adding to the interactive menti presentation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018