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Soundcastle: Creativity and Wellbeing Online!

Hello all, Rachael here from Soundcastle.

Inspired by it being both Creativity and Wellbeing Week AND Mental Health Awareness week, I thought it probably time to share some of what we’re up to at Soundcastle in support mental wellbeing through creative music making. As always, we love your comments and challenges so please read with an open mind and be ready to respond!

As for the world, lockdown has been a surreal time for our community members, team members and organisation for so many reasons. As for most community musicians, our work happens in the room, in real time. It is dependent on the energy of the group, the weather, the creative headspace of the facilitator, the quality of the snacks ;) and so much more. We thrive on being responsive and it is integral to our creative process.

Two hours before lockdown we received significant funding to launch our inclusive family music making programme, Musical Beacons, in the South-East, specifically with two centres who support women and babies who have recent experience of homelessness and abuse. We are also in the midst of delivering Musical Beacons in London and The People’s Music Collective – a programme for adults on a mental health recovery journey – in Worthing. We work with people who need people. We all need people. We need connection. The terms ‘social distancing,’ ‘isolation’ and ‘lockdown’ are scary and cold and the opposite of everything we celebrate in collective music making. So, we began to reframe. Language is so incredibly important when creating safe spaces so we began speaking about ‘social connection’ and making ‘creative online communities’ for people to collaborate within. I read a lovely quote that reframed ‘lockdown’ as being in a ‘cocoon’ and it really resonated with our approach.

Over the past 8 weeks, we’ve worked tirelessly to take our community programmes online and ensure that they are a safe, creative and open place to be. We didn’t respond as quickly as we were tempted to. We were conscious of the need for two-way interaction so resisted jumping into Facebook lives and YouTube content before we were ready and had really considered the impact.

We are so proud to say that we now have all our programmes successfully operating online and are currently exploring what might happen with them next term. Do we stay digital? How do we keep communities safe? How do we push creative processes when not in the room?

As a learning organisation the reflection recently has been inspirational and exhausting! We are not only juggling the visible work but the invisible too. The fundraising, the policies, the safeguarding, the marketing planning. It’s been an amazing time of new funds appearing and it’s given us new momentum to find sustainability beyond this strange time.

Our next exciting challenge will be the launch of our new online creativity and wellbeing community for music facilitators. Check out our social channels (@SoundcastleTeam on Twitter/ Fb and Insta) to find out more!

All power to you all,

Keep singing!

Soundcastle x