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Soundtracks: Reflections of working on an adapted music programme during isolation.

I feel indescribably fortunate to be able to dedicate myself to Soundtracks and continue to both learn and provide resources for young people during these unusual times. Not being able to host weekly face to face Soundtracks sessions in youth centres has, of course, been a challenge, however, it has also been a valuable educational journey.

Writing case studies and Community Partnership logs was a reflective and useful exercise. The structure and necessity of these tasks allowed me to emphasise the importance of Soundtracks for the young people and centres I have worked with. I could contemplate this both in my writing and in my own mind, giving me motivation for the isolation ahead. I was able to consider both my Soundtracks Journey as well as approaching a strategic way to describe our work, as to do it justice.

There was a lot of brainstorming before the three main sets of Online Resources which we are now working on were decided – Skills Development, Soundtracks Song Bank and Creating Music Remotely. Being asked to get involved in the different strands of delivery has been invaluable. I have been able to discover more about both the artistic and logistic process of providing online resources specifically, as well as, more broadly, the layered roles of the Music Leaders that I learn from.

I have mostly been involved in Soundtracks Song Bank. Contributing vocals to the videos has taught me how to properly record, both visually and audibly. Over the last two months, I have grown more comfortable with this process; I have worked closely with the other Soundtracks staff involved and grown in self-confidence with the technique of recording (which I had never done before). This gives me confidence that young people participating in Soundtracks will successfully create both their own music and music with other musicians remotely, due to the assurance Soundtracks has instilled in me when I was faced with the new challenge of recording my voice.

Putting together a Vocal Skills Development online resource is still a work in process; however, the development so far has been enlightening. I was not aware that my knowledge could be used so effectively for young people to teach themselves from home. Bringing together the various ideas for Vocal Skills Development has also introduced me to another young woman working with Soundtracks in Blackburn, who I have met virtually during lockdown. We have been able to send each other past work, work together on the Soundtracks Song Bank and proof read each other’s writing. Most notably, we have put together drafts of the Vocal Skill Development in different forms, sharing this work productively and fairly, and working as a true partnership.

Communicating with the Soundtracks team has been excellent. It has allowed us all to stay engaged, which could be tricky without the face to face Soundtracks sessions. We can see each other’s ideas grow and expand, supporting them as to provide the best resources we can to young people during these unprecedented times. These times are hardest for the most vulnerable in our society and I know that some of the young people we work with fall into this category. We will continue to connect with these young people to give them important musical experiences as well as a needed, creative distraction from whatever they are currently going through.

Rosa Sanchez Johnson, Trainee music leader, Soundtracks, Bolton Music Service

June 2020