by Author MAC Makes Music

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Don’t forget about the post!

This photo shows the content of activity packs. It includes 7 A4 worksheets, 5 postcards, paper plates, scissors, tape, pens, and coloured envelopes laid out on a white table cloth.

For some, post and parcels had become a thing of the past; environmentally friendly ways of receiving our bills, paperwork, newspapers, magazines, and messages have changed what we receive through the letter box massively. For most of us receiving something in the post has become a fun novelty.

We recently discovered that for those struggling with internet or home schooling, postal opportunities can be a real game changer.

At MAC Makes Music we are very conscious that not everyone can or wants to take part in online musical opportunities. This left us scratching our heads and, like many others, wondering how to reach those missing out!

During the first lockdown of 2020 we developed some musical activity sheets and postcards in collaboration with our Music Leaders and an artist called Ben Connors. These were, and still are, available online to all and we shared printed copies of these with school partners, regional and national organisations.

In January 2021 when the latest lockdown commenced we wondered if there was a way to bulk out these activities into packs and post them directly to families. We developed a trial round of 150 free packs, each containing musical postcards, activity sheets, materials to complete the activities such as pens and paper, plus mini musical surprises. Each activity is accompanied by a guide for parents / carers, plus links to video demonstrations. We also produced easy read versions of the activities (using widgit symbols) that could be included on request.

We openly advertised the free packs and were clear that they were aimed at families in the West Midlands with limited access to the internet or printers. We were absolutely blown away by the response: all 150 were gone in 1.5 hours!

Our phones were ringing off the hook and those getting in touch explained similar situations;

  • struggling with home schooling online
  • not enough devices / technology to go around
  • no / low internet
  • zero engagement with online offers
  • lack of physical materials / resources at home to get creative
  • run out of fun ideas

In a world where, at present, nearly all advertising is done virtually we were concerned that the packs wouldn’t reach our target audience. We were pleased to see that many of the packs had been requested by social workers, family support workers, schools on behalf of individual families, and friends/relatives. We also discovered that over 73% of the families had children or young people who identify as disabled or have additional needs.

Within a week we had a waiting list of another 150 families. Thanks to the continued support of Youth Music and the Birmingham Music Education Partnership, we are now working on the production of another 500 free packs and a separate schools offer.

Why are we telling you all this? Well, in a world of digital it’s so easy to get consumed with videos and zoom calls. This was a pretty abrupt reminder to us that there is still a desperate need for something physical, something real, and something that doesn’t need a plug or internet! Musical experiences can be encouraged through something printed that isn’t a traditional score.

As our local families reminded us, we want to remind you, to think physical and outside of the screen! You won’t know how many need it until you try!

(the video at the top is a summary of our work since the first lockdown)