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A proof of concept study of effective methodologies to evaluate musical interventions

Sound Young Minds is an interdisciplinary research study designed to evaluate the mechanisms of a complex music intervention in which professional musicians offer music-making opportunities (‘Music Residencies’) on a weekly basis during term time to students [4-19y] who are either inpatient or outpatient attenders at the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital Schools.

The aims of the Music Residencies in the context of the hospital schools are:

  • To engage young people in group music-making activities
  • To improve young people’s musical skills through increased opportunities in singing, listening, performance, composition and lyric writing
  • To increase the confidence and self-esteem of young people
  • To improve social skills through listening, turn-taking, collaborating and communicating

The research seeks to describe the phenomenology of the Music Residencies and to develop a robust methodology for evaluating these Music Residences and similar music interventions in mental health settings. The project has four parts:

  • Part 1: transactions between students, musicians and School staff participating in the Music Residencies will be observed, described, and broken down analytically in order to understand the phenomenology of the Music Residencies for those who take part in them.
  • Part 2: frequencies of how many students participated and their demographic characteristics will be gathered, and questionnaires will be given to students pre and post each Music Residency, to explore which quantitative evaluation methods are acceptable, feasible and appropriate to evaluate musical interventions such as this.
  • Part 3: certain types of routinely collected School records for students participating in the Music Residencies will be examined to assess whether any routinely collected data might inform the understanding of the phenomenology and the evaluation of the Music Residencies.
  • Part 4: semi-structured interviews will be conducted with students, musicians and School staff in order to understand the relationships between individuals, and the relationships of those individuals to the Music Residences (including the music itself).

The Sound Young Minds project is funded by the King’s College London Together Strategic Fund. The research team is interdisciplinary, drawing together researchers and practitioners from the social sciences, the arts and medical humanities, the cultural and creative industries, experts-by-experience and school educators.