In her latest blog, originally published on The Institute of Cultural Capital, Liverpool’s website, ICC Head of Research Kerry Wilson considers the intergenerational qualities and impacts of cultural participation, focusing on her current research with Live Music Now.
“On Saturday, I got to spend the afternoon with some of our city’s youngest residents at the Katumba Culture Hub in Toxteth, living their absolute best lives on a huge play mat littered with tiny tambourines, maracas and xylophones, and playing musical statues with their new friends, professional musicians from Live Music Now.
The musicians were keeping the little ones entertained as Live Music Now colleagues worked with their mums, women from the local Sudanese community, on co-creating original pieces of music together as part of the Lullaby project. I was lucky enough to be observing all this as Live Music Now’s evaluation research partner, building the evidence base on Lullaby as an international music programme designed to support women’s perinatal mental health and early childhood development, originally pioneered by Carnegie Hall in New York some 10 years ago.
This is the second of three cohorts of women taking part in Lullaby in the North West, funded by the NHS Women’s Health and Maternity partnership, a network of 27 NHS organisations across Cheshire and Merseyside. It is running in parallel with another Lullaby programme in the Swansea Bay area, led by Live Music Now Wales with funding from Arts Council Wales and delivered in collaboration with the Swansea Bay University Health Board and Flying Start, the Welsh government early years programme.
I have the pleasure of leading the evaluation of both programmes, working with Georgina Aasgaard, Live Music Now professional musician and cellist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, who has extensive experience of running music projects in mental health care settings. Georgina is a pre-Doctoral Fellow of the National Institute for Health Research, working with Live Music Now to develop her practice as an arts-based researcher. We are also delighted to be collaborating with Dr Clare Maxwell from the School of Nursing and Allied Health at LJMU, and Sophie Tolley, Peer Support Worker for Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust on the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Team and one of the first participating mums in the North West Lullaby programme.
Throughout the evaluation, we are using mixed-methods to consider the impact of Lullaby on participating women’s subjective wellbeing, self-efficacy and agency; the impact on participating musicians’ professional wellbeing, job satisfaction and career development; and the value created for participating partner organisations and the local health and social care environment.
Participant observation is proving to be an especially valuable method in enabling a nuanced consideration of the heuristic experience and value of music making and creativity in perinatal care for all those taking part and wider family members. Each Mum works in partnership with dedicated musicians to compose and record their lullabies, which are then performed together publicly at a cultural venue, where family and friends get to hear them, usually for the first time.
I am still thinking about one such performance I attended in Port Talbot in early March. The impact of the project was palpable, especially for the younger mums referred by Flying Start and just as significantly, their mums who were there in support. It feels unique to consider the impact of a creative project on three generations (babies included!) of the same family.”