Our showcase event tomorrow – 25th of January


We are excited for our showcase event coming up tomorrow. All is set and ready!

If you can’t join us in Erskine, tune in to our live-stream here on this blog, or through our facebook page.

Between 11-1 our participants from Erskine will be performing, to give you a taste of what happens in the Limelight music workshops, followed by short presentations on the project, and a panel and Q&A discussion.

See you all tomorrow!

Being a trainee workshop leader

Catriona Kirk, trainee workshop leader

This blog post was written by Catriona Kirk, trainee workshop leader with Limelight Music.

My name is Catriona Kirk and I am a trainee workshop leader with Limelight Music. I have been working with Limelight for almost a year now so I have been involved with lots of projects but nothing has been as unique and different as the Music for Social Innovation project. As a workshop leader I’m lucky I get be to very involved in the project. Once everyone is sitting in the circle it’s often up to me to get everyone energised and ready to play by doing a physical warm up, (this often involves a lot of shaking and looking a bit silly) and a vocal warm up (this often involves making a lot of silly and very loud noises). I also help aid the leading of songs and if we are doing some drumming and chanting I’ll tend to be the caller that calls to the group for the drum and voice response.

I’ve really enjoyed being involved in this project as not only has it been great fun but it’s also been great to see individuals progress. Although this project is music-based it’s so much more than just teaching songs and rhythms. For me it’s been about seeing people expand their social capability in a safe environment, be completely themselves and grow in confidence through the music I teach. It’s about seeing people sing at the top of their lungs to songs that they have had the chance to write and develop within the group. As a workshop leader, it has been a real pleasure to see individuals progress within this project and see how much of a real difference it is making to their lives.

It has been different to other projects I have worked on because this project isn’t just about the music; it is about the person as well and how in teaching the music the way we do, it will hopefully teach them something about themselves in the process. It’s been about learning how to combine the aspect of musical development with personal development and how to teach that in a way that works.

It has been interesting for me to also be involved in the research aspect of the project as it isn’t something I would usually do within my work. It’s been interesting to discuss methods of teaching and to speak in depth about the project. It has helped me to develop my workshopping methods. I think personally one of the big things I have learnt within this project is how powerful music can be when it is taught in this way. It’s no secret that music has multiple benefits on the brain and your own wellbeing, but when you are able to have a group in an environment like the Music as Social Innovation project it’s amazing how much it does. The group environment is great for individuals to feel a part of something bigger and to feel like they are all working together and are a group, but also it gives individuals the chance to express themselves and be with people who love music like they do. For me, being able to teach such interesting, passionate individuals and see their progression from week to week has been a real blessing and in return has also taught me a lot! I think this project is really special and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. Music really can change lives.

Catriona Kirk


Drumming and Chanting

Kirsty Brown
Kirsty Brown

This blog post was written by Kirsty Brown, our Lay Researcher in Erskine.

Music on a Monday morning really sets you up for the rest of the week and you forget your worries for that two hours especially playing either the BoomWhackers, the guitar or the Djembe drums (they are my favourite). There is something special about music that no other activity can reproduce for me. It makes your soul happy and when you are around people who want to join in and contribute to a song or chant there is nothing like it.

The drumming and rhythm part of the workshop I always look forward to, because it gives the service users a shot of playing a drum to different rhythms. They always looked engaged and their musical ability, for some, has come on immensely but most importantly they all seem to be enjoying themselves, which is apparent from the number of smiling faces around the circle.

Everyone starts off the rhythm part by copying what the Limelight leader is playing, it’s usually a variation of a crochet and quaver beat. The group are really animated and that transfers to the playing of the drum. They copy how the leader is playing, whether that be soft or loud (piano or forte for those in the know).

One service user was quiet at the start of these music sessions but spoke when you directed a question to him. The Limelight staff found out he has a really good musical ear so used this knowledge by giving him more of a leading role. He is very good at keeping a beat and a rhythm, even when the rest of the group are chanting. Recently he has been coming up with his own rhythms to complement the leader.

The service users always seem to like playing together as a group. We have started off by doing a clap around the room and trying to beat our score. The group really worked as a team and they encourage the people with the clap and wait in anticipation of the final stopwatch time.

Another of the service users seems to come alive when playing the drum. He enjoys the other parts but really put his whole effort into play the Djembe. His actions become far more animated and he looks people in the eye more. When it come to the chants he gets excited (I know this by his actions) and though I can’t hear him as everyone else is chanting, he does seem to chant quite confidently.

Kirsty Brown

Being a Lay Researcher for Music as Social Innovation

michael mcewan
Michael McEwan

This blog post was written by Michael McEwan, our Lay Researcher in Glasgow.

I’ve been doing freelance work with Limelight Music for many years but this is the first time that I’ve been involved in reporting on the inclusive workshops they deliver. I’ve found the workshops fascinating and learnt a great deal about the impact they have on those participating in the sessions. The confidence, engagement and musical development of the participants has increased in recent weeks, creating a positive environment for everyone involved in the programme.

By attending and reporting on the workshops I’ve been able to get a better understanding of how effective music is as a form of communication opening up those taking part in the sessions. A great deal of emphasis is placed on everyone having fun and feeling relaxed. Some of the participants are more tentative than others but everyone contributes to the process of music making and there is a real sense of community.

It is also very interesting to see how the Limelight Music staff use various techniques to engage with those taking part, on a group and individual basis.

In the workshops I’ve attended there have been 8 or 9 people taking part and this group size seems to work well given the structure of the sessions. This allows for everyone to get the level of attention they need.

When I was talking to one of the support workers, they said that those taking part really loved the workshops.

Michael McEwan

End of the first block of workshops, more to come!

As the first block of music workshops come to an end, we are looking back at all the recordings. This is a video of the participants singing, taken with a 360º camera so we can see how everyone in the circle is taking part.

The second block of workshops will start in August.

First advisory board meeting

Our advisory board had their first meeting today. The advisory board members introduced themselves, were given information about the project and watched short videos of the workshops to get a feel of what goes on. There was a lot of interesting discussion on how music workshops might influence the participants’ lives and how we can find out about this. We also discussed potential challenges, and the advisory board gave advice and ideas. All in all, a great first meeting!

We look forward to our next meeting in the Autumn.

At the disability resource centre, Renfrewshire
At the disability resource centre, Renfrewshire


Part of this research project is talking to the music workshop participants and their families, the service staff and other community musicians, to find out about the challenges our participants face and how music workshops can change peoples’ lives. We really enjoy talking to such different and interesting people, finding out about the role of music in their lives.

Preparing for interviews
Preparing for interviews

At the Milldale open day

We visited the Milldale centre in Linwood for their Open day, what a fun event! Service users and their families came together to celebrate the end of the term. All sat together, chatting and getting to know each other, creating a positive and happy environment. The highlight of the day was the “singing hands” performance, where service users performed songs singing and using Makaton. To close off the day, we interviewed some of the participants’ families. A day well spent!

Picture collage from the Milldale open day
Milldale open day