LAST year was a work in progress for Changing Tunes. Many charities working in the justice system suffered serious setbacks when implementing their services due to Covid-19 restrictions and Changing Tunes was no exception.
Recent times have changed this with prisons now allowing Musicians-in-Residence back into the regimes. This has been a slow process; however, Changing Tunes has been working to develop and broaden its presence in various ways through the promotion of its services to Learning and Skills Managers and Heads of Reducing Reoffending in places where we have not worked before. Promotion of our In-Cell Learning Packs has been a useful way to introduce Changing Tunes for many Prisons, especially where occupying residents during lockdown has been a key factor.
Changing Tunes offer Learning Packs focused on music-related skills that can be done ‘in cell’ such as Western Music Theory, Singing, and Rhythm, as well as playing instruments (such as guitars) where allowed. Specific skills around songwriting include ‘Beats For Bars’: Rap and Hip Hop styles of music are a popular part of developing many residents’ musicality.
It develops verbal, written and musical abilities and often leads towards creating new songs, music, and presentation in the life of prison as well as possible recognition through The Koestler awards (awards for arts in criminal justice). The benefits of pursuing music-related activities have long been recognised as a means to altering a person’s perception of who they are, what they think, and allowing expression to develop a re-appraisal of their mental perspective.
Changing Tunes has been working to develop the Musician-in-Residence role in new prisons across the UK and is looking to find new avenues of moving the model out into other areas of Justice work including Pupil Referral Units, Young Offender Institutions, and Community Hubs or CFO hubs run by other service providers. The model is relatively simple in that a musician provides open access music sessions for participants to explore specific aspects of music they’re interested in. This might mean a session for songwriting, ‘Beats for Bars’ style Hip Hop and Rap, or it might mean beginners guitar sessions. Our musicians are multi-talented and have a range of skills allowing them to support the development of a wide range of musical styles and tastes.
The sessions can contain up to ten individuals or be one-to-one and will last around two hours. The Musician-in-Residence model is an ongoing service provided on a contract basis and allows for a focused relationship to build between the musician and the participants across a longer period. Changing Tunes musicians use this time to model behaviours, develop a mentoring aspect to their relationship and to allow the recipient the space to develop their musical skills in a non-judgemental and creative space.
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