In Tune is our whole-family music making project, situated in two Scottish prisons. Working with imprisoned parents, their children and the children’ primary carers, we create space for group music making, music-based games, play and song-writing.
In Tune is designed to create a space in the prison context where parents can be parents, and children can be children. A space where positive memories can be forged and embedded. A space where new ways to relate can be worked out and put into practice. A space where creativity is valued as a way to connect within a family.
Working in partnership with prison service staff and Families Outside, and funded by BBC Children In Need, In Tune is running in HMP Barlinnie and HMYOI Polmont. These two different contexts require, different approaches to the project, but the principles are the same – making space for families to deepen and strengthen their relationships through making new things together. We are ding this in two different ways at the minute, with plans for development of the project where opportunities arise.
Family Music Making
These sessions are the heart of In Tune, and are built on our experienced team creating a space that is safe, welcoming, fun and creative. We know that not everyone is used to singing out loud, playing instruments or dancing in front of others, so we want to make sure that In Tune is accessible for everyone who comes along.
“I’m really self conscious but this has been fine! I don’t know why, but this is so relaxed, there’s no pressure and it’s just fun so it’s hard not to take part.” Dad
Each session begins with some uninterrupted family time, followed by a song to welcome everyone together for the session. The next half an hour or so is filled with songs and music games – some familiar and some new – with plenty of actions and ways to get involved. We use lots of different instruments to create music together, experience new things and work as a group to make a beautiful noise! After some more family time and a cup of tea, we’re back into making music together, before we end the night with some wind-down, relaxing songs.
There’s a real focus on the children at In Tune, with parents supporting and helping their own children and others in the group to take part, and most importantly have a great time. Families tell us it’s different from other visits they have.
“I think it’s a good experience. It kinda brings you out your shell and we can all spend time, cause usually when I come here my Mum and Dad just talk away and I’m just running around everywhere, but here you can just sit down and enjoy all being together.” Daughter
“The strain on the family and the kids in the other visit room…you become a stranger in that other visit room but this allows you to build the relationship up that you don’t get to do normally. It’s quality if you ask me!” Dad
Families are finding that In Tune allows them to relate in new ways, seeing their children develop over the weeks and imagining how music will be a pat of family life in the future.
“It’s been good because [Dad} is coming home in two or three weeks, it’s given him and [son] extra time together before he comes home and that’s made a massive difference.” Mum
Family music making happens in both Barlinnie and Polmont, but looks quite different in each prison. In Barlinnie we run ten-week blocks, three times a year, with around 5 or 6 families in each block. In Polmont, we work closely with the Parenting team to provide Family Music Making either with individual families or as part of pre-arranged family visits.
Song-Writing with Dads
In Polmont, we have experimented with song-writing workshops with Dads, supporting them to write new lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs for their own children. These sessions have yielded beautiful, fun and moving song, some of which you can hear on this very page.
Working closely with Dads to write honest songs for their children has been a rewarding process for everyone involved, and most importantly has allowed young Dads to make something new, just for their children. Dads regularly play/sing on their recordings, even if they’ve never made music before. These songs can be cherished through the prison sentence and beyond. These songs are also introduced in the family music making sessions, and each family gets a song-book and glockenspiel to play along with the recordings at home.
“I think it’s really meaningful, it’s nice for your children because obviously when they’re older they can say “Ma Da’ actually made an effort, he went out his way and made a song, he worked with people and made a song for me”. Hopefully it’ll make your kid feel loved.” Dad
We’ll be taking this model of songwriting into Barlinnie in early 2017, as well as developing new work with early-years children as part of an on-going parenting project.
If you’d like any more information about In Tune, please don’t hesitate to contact us.