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Songbirds Musical Breaks: Celebrating co-production and co-creation with young people with complex needs

We have been working with children and young people aged 8-16 years and their families in the Salford community over the last 2 years, delivering remote bespoke multi-sensory music workshops to each child in their home as part of our Short Breaks programme: Songbirds Musical Breaks, commissioned by Salford CVS.

Sessions were personalised and themed in collaboration with each child/young person. Musical activities included co-producing and co-creating original music, conducting musicians through musical games and activities, and using musical instruments and sensory materials to create improvised soundscapes. All activities supported emotional wellbeing and creative expression.

Our programme is now ending, and we have collected rich and valuable responses from our families for our evaluation.

All Musical Breaks participants had a range of additional or complex needs and disabilities including communication needs and profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD); families who engaged with the project reported experiencing challenges from increased isolation and anxiety in dealing with their children’s health and additional needs, particularly in response to the pandemic. Sessions helped families to deal with these challenges, allowed time for positive connection and provided a therapeutic space for stress-reducing relaxation.

‘Music makes such a difference to [our son’s] life. It helps him to learn, it helps him with his physio, it helps him with his exercise and most importantly he loves it. Songbirds have helped him with all the above and more – [our son] loves working with Ros and Mark, they understand his needs, it makes a big difference to his and our lives working with Songbirds – they are the best!’

Parent feedback, Musical Breaks Evaluation 2022