The role of leadership and facilitation in fostering connectedness and development through participation in the Just Brass music programme — Katrina Skewes McFerran & Jessica Higgins

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The role of leadership and facilitation in fostering connectedness and development through participation in the Just Brass music programme

Katrina Skewes McFerran & Jessica Higgins

ABSTRACT

Many extracurricular music programmes provided for Australian students highlight wellbeing benefits; although the programmes vary significantly, with some being uniquely tailored by facilitators to the specific needs of each group, and others being manualised and delivered across the country. This research project investigated a manualised brass ensemble programme run by The Salvation Army with students from schools in areas of disadvantage. We interviewed a group of young leaders who had been involved in the programme for a number of years and asked them to reflect on their experiences of participation and leadership, both individually and as a collective. Analysis highlighted the importance of programme facilitation and leadership, as demonstrated through the understandings of the young people that their wellbeing was prioritised over their musicianship within the programme. This finding may provide a feasible explanation as to why some very different music programmes, from tailored therapy groups to manualised ensemble-playing on brass instruments, result in similar wellbeing outcomes being described by participants. It also challenges the demands of evidence-based research methodologies that attempt to separate out the influence of leadership from the effect of the music in order to prove the wellbeing benefits of music.

KEYWORDS

community music, music therapy, young people, leadership, connection, personal development, identity, musical resources, belonging

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES

Dr Katrina Skewes McFerran is Professor of Music Therapy and Co-Director of the Creative Arts and Music Therapy Research Unit at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She is author of Adolescents, Music and Music Therapy (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2010), and co-editor of the forthcoming OUP Handbook on Music, Adolescents and Wellbeing. Her research focuses on the ways young people use music and is often conducted in schools. [k.mcferran@unimelb.edu.au]

Jessica Higgins is the founder and director of Jig Music Therapy, providing music therapy services in regional Victoria. She is also the Victorian and Tasmanian State Manager for Sing&Grow Australia. Jessica is passionate about strengthening all communities through music participation but especially for vulnerable groups. [jigmusictherapy@gmail.com]