Report on the 2018 Making Music Council meetings

Your group pays its membership fee and it gets some useful stuff in return, but you have this nagging feeling you could be getting more out of your membership; or you think that Making Music really should be doing something about a particular issue; or maybe you wonder what Making Music’s plans are for future services and campaigns.

Your group could be new to Making Music or have been a member for years, you may be newly picked as your group’s representative or be an old hand at it – whatever your level of Making Music or music group experience – a council meeting could be for you. It’s when staff and Board members ask for your views on specific challenges or future plans, and invite you to share challenges that might prevent your group being as successful as it could be. 

What happened at the 2018 meetings?

This year for the first time we experimented with seven meetings spread out across the UK instead of one (four in England, one in Scotland, one in Wales, one in Northern Ireland) in order to make the council as accessible as possible for the largest number of members. We more than doubled attendance compared to last year, but we’d love to have many more member representatives at future council meetings – so if you want to tell us what might stop you coming, please do!

We also changed the timing for 2018 – in the past, the (single) council meeting took place in the autumn, too late to influence our plans for the following year. Meetings are now in the summer, so that your views can help shape our priority and budget setting in the autumn.

We asked for your views on the resources on our website, and on our advocacy work. There was also time at each event to discuss subjects members brought along.

Website resources

  • Many of you didn’t know that all members of your group can register and have access to website resources  – great for sharing the work and encouraging new volunteers, knowing that they will be able to find some useful support on our website
  • A problem or question is what mostly drives you to look for resources, but you like being reminded of them through our emails and newsletters
  • Finding the right thing is not always easy, and we are working on improving the search and filter functions, so that you can get to what you need more easily
  • We now have so many resources that you would like more overviews and/or flowcharts on a topic, and maybe an introduction, supported by more detailed information for those that need it
  • The use of video, webinars and audio versions received the thumbs up, but only if right for the subject, and kept short; words are still good!

Advocacy work

  • You confirmed our impression that over the last few years finding the right spaces to practise and perform in has become more difficult and more expensive;  we managed to get a sense of the most important problems, and some potential actions for Making Music
  • We discussed music education, following on from our survey in May on barriers and solutions to engaging with music for all ages. This will now enable us to plan how to address these issues – and has already led to us to support the petition to the UK Parliament by brass band trombonist Ralph Riddiough for free instrument tuition to be offered to every child in school as part of the statutory curriculum
  • We updated on our collaboration with others on the current difficulties around performance licensing for children, on our work on public music libraries, and in Scotland on the current cultural strategy consultation
  • We asked you about Make Music Day (always 21 June). Making Music supports it as an ideal opportunity to shine a local, national and global spotlight on you all. Alongside over 50 organisations from the music sector, we hope to make it as visible in the UK in the next five years as it already is in France:

          - Many of you aren’t yet aware of it; the date can be difficult for a group's calendar, others are daunted by performing open-air or in spaces outside their usual venue; there were questions on financing an event (global rule: events have to be free to the public – though bucket-shaking is fine) and practical ones about PRS, licensing etc.
          - Groups have busy schedules and an additional event can be hard to fit in. We hope that as Make Music Day grows it can become part of groups regular schedule – it has the potential to offer huge value by taking groups into the public arena and raising their profile 
          - There is work for Making Music to do to help members – if they wish – to engage with this world-wide celebration of music

And what else did you want to tell us? In brief...

  • You appreciated the meetings and being able to talk to staff and Board
  • Could Making Music capitalise on the nation’s interest in health by supporting research and promoting the effects of music on health?
  • We could profile and promote members more, including through case studies in Highnotes
  • There is a shortage of men in choral singing. Is this a campaign? (Good gender balance reported in instrumental groups)
  • We need to keep up the emphasis on youth engagement and dismantling barriers to their participation
  • Finding volunteers is an issue – frustration around succession planning, and increased reporting requirements by Charity Commission, which are putting off potential trustees
  • We should continue to work with music publishers on the costs of hiring music
  • We should encourage members more to use our logos and membership badges
  • Can we do more to reach out to non-members and show how we encourage different organisational set ups and genres?
  • How can we connect promoters locally to enable creation of ‘mini-tours’?
  • Could groups help the government deliver its new loneliness strategy?
  • Parents have childcare issues – women or men. Could the timing of rehearsals and performances accommodate this?
  • You asked for more guidance on funding info/applications
  • Could there be an instrument exchange programme?
  • Local media can be rewarding – can we support members to engage with it?

Wow. We don’t think we’ll be bored at Making Music any time soon!

Having heard your thoughts and problems, we’ll be addressing many of them as we go along; we hope you’ll see them gradually come through in our work.

And next year, why not come to one of the seven council events to continue the conversation?