Music and children in rurally isolated communities: call for existing research and case studies

NYMAZ is embarking on a research project evidencing the impact of participatory music on children and young people in rurally isolated communities. Has your organisation produced any reports or pieces of evidence relating to this that could inform our research, or could you signpost us to other relevant research? Would your organisation be willing to volunteer as a case study? Please get in touch!

As part of our Musical Inclusion programme for North Yorkshire, NYMAZ is undertaking a study of music and rural isolation, with the aim of evidencing ways in which participatory music making can make a positive impact on the lives of children and young people living in rural areas. We are aware that issues of rural isolation impact on the work of many organisations and individuals in the nonformal music sector nationally, and are keen to hear from you, wherever you are based. We are pleased to be able to welcome François Matarasso, author of Use or Ornament? and Only Connect, as an advisor to the project.

In the first phase of the project, we are gathering existing evidence and research. Has your organisation written, or come across, any reports about music and rural isolation? Would you be happy to share with us any evaluation reports or statistics from your own music projects in rurally isolated areas?

For the second phase of the project, we are inviting music organisations who work with rurally isolated communities to volunteer as case studies. Being a case study organisation would entail NYMAZ:

  • Visiting your organisation or project for one day;
  • Conducting interviews with your staff and music leaders;
  • Observing one of your workshops for children/young people.

We intend to complete the majority of case study visits between 22 September and 10 October 2014.

We would be really grateful to hear from you before Tuesday 26 August 2014 if you have any relevant reports or evidence to share, or if you would be willing to volunteer your organisation as a case study. You can e-mail me at, or leave a comment on this blog.

Thank you!

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Ayvin Rogers's picture

Hi Millie, I can't hyperlink video and blogs on this comment space so I've emailed you several links to B Sharp videos, testimonials and blogs. I'm happy to share with others on the Network if asked.

anita holford's picture

Hi Millie - here are some links to blogs, reports and very active discussions on the networks on this topic. I see Ayvin has been in touch - it's definitely worth getting in touch with Jack Sibley at Hereford Music Pool too, as you'll see:

Music Pool, Hereford Tackling Rural Isolation through Centralised Provision
LiveWire full evaluation document

BSharp - warming rural cold spots

There may also be related stuff here:
B-Sharp Busking Festival ADVOCACY CASE STUDY video & brief write up

We also had a breakout on this topic at the last Gathering - you'll find the notes on the Padlet here (let me know if you can't spot them and I'll email them)

Perhaps some of those who took part in the discussion will be able to share their learning (Jack S led the session so again, worth talking to him about who else you might speak with).

Hope this helps - I'll also share this on the Musical Inclusion Facebook and Twitter.

Do keep me posted and perhaps we can consider doing a practice-sharing briefing to summarise the results of your research and what people have shared in the new year?

Heidi Johnson's picture

Thanks for this Anita; I was in the rural isolation discussion at the last Gathering myself and we've got the notes.

We are hosting an event to launch the findings and recommendations from the research on Tuesday 27 January in Thirsk, North Yorkshire and will be inviting Musical Inclusion colleagues.

anita holford's picture

Great, thanks Heidi, good luck with it.

The Music Pool's picture

Hi Millie,

Jack Sibley here (not very good at this computer stuff so not sure if my name will appear otherwise!). I'm more than happy for you to come and visit our project! In terms of research, I've just been going off what I can find through Youth Music. It sounds like NYMAZ is doing a great job though. I think I remember Heidi saying at the gathering that you were doing some research into remote learning? I'd love to see that and any other findings!


Millie Watkins's picture

Hi Jack, thanks for the comment and for offering to host a visit. Could you e-mail me your contact details, so we can get in touch about arranging that if it seems appropriate?

Yes, we're just getting started with another (completely separate!) research project funded through the Digital Research and Development Fund for the Arts. Once we get the project's web presence up and running I will be able to point you to some more information, and the results will absolutely be shared far and wide. Also, as Heidi mentioned below, we will be launching the outcomes of the rural isolation research at an event on 27 January. Watch this space!