Making Music Being Well: How You Can Get Involved

By Alex Masso, 5 April 2012

MMBW_medMaking Music Being Well is the national week-long celebration of music and wellbeing, a partner program to the Music in Communties Network managed by Music: Play For Life, in partnership with the Australian Music Therapy Association. Last year over 50,000 people took part in events around the country, more than half of those were actively making music! It's happening again this year from 21-27 May.

In my previous job, at Wollongong Conservatorium of Music, we held several events as part of Making Music Being Well.  At one memorable concert a couple of years ago we presented The Rockers, a rock band for young adults with intellectual disabilities.  They hadn't performed very often so it was great to use the opportunity of this national campaign to hold a concert for the band.  The other half of the concert was the Djembe Gems, an African drumming group based at a local Women's Centre.  This was the group's first public performance so the participants' family and friends had never heard them play together. 

The two groups were very different but together they presented a very powerful message about the benefits of playing music.  They also sounded great!  The following year the Djembe Gems joined us again but we moved to a bigger venue and they were one of the first groups to perform in the newly renovated Town Hall. 

Both of these performances were actually very simple and straightforward to organise and made a conscious effort to have someone actually talk about what it is that they do and the benefits of music making, both at the concert and on ABC local radio.

Making Music Being Well images

The other day I had a look at last year’s Making Music Being Well events and who was getting involved.   The people and organisations involved include those that you might expect: Primary and Secondary Schools, Music Therapists, Regional Cons and community choirs, orchestras and bands. Others include private and public hospitals, retirement homes, peak bodies, music stores, community support organisations and local councils. Many seem to be driven by a musically inclined person but in some cases the activity wasn’t based around any existing group or music therapy activity. How about introducing music to your staff meeting!

I was curious about what it is that different people are doing, how they interpret the broad theme of “music and wellbeing” and turn it into an event in their community. A Mental Health Unit held “a concert involving people with mental health issues performing everything from Bach to Blues”, a school teacher organised “a sing along with instruments at our school staff meeting,” a major hospital had its staff choir perform in the foyer, and a Music Therapist organised a disco for students with an intellectual disability.

So, how can your community group get involved? Here are some ideas, not from me but from the past participants in Making Music Being Well.

  • Performing in a local hospital or retirement home
  • Introducing music to your staff meeting
  • A concert involving local music therapy groups which don’t usually perform
  • A flash mob (take your music somewhere unexpected, and brighten up people’s day!)
  • Open rehearsal – let anyone come along to have a go
  • “Instrument tryout” night for the community
  • Mental health clients, community choir and mental health staff singing together
  • A conventional performance by a community group with a “wellbeing” message or community participation…perhaps just a good old sing-along!
  • Arrange an interview with the local radio station to talk up the benefits of playing music.

If you’re a community group and have any questions about getting involved, feel free to contact me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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