All babies are born with innate musical ability and that musical communication can contribute to multiple forms of language. Britten Pears Arts are committed to helping families with young children communicate and engage with their communities. Mini Music Makers was developed to use the museum and heritage space alongside music to create a community support network, helping to engage local families with under 5s, with The Red House and with heritage.

The group was founded in 2017 and has evolved to cater for an average of 30 families attending the sessions each week. It has developed into its own friendly community, offering support and engagement between local families in a safe and proactive learning environment.

A typical Mini Music session involves interactive music, songs and exploration of instruments, along with the chance for families to discover and engage with a gallery space, or historic gardens, through play, storytelling and related activities. In 2019 The Red House was delighted to be shortlisted for The Kids in Museums Family Friendly Award, thanks to its Mini Music Makers programme and the engagement of early years at the site.

The effect of Covid 19

Prior to the restrictions due to COVID-19, the online presence had largely been the popular Facebook group page, which was mainly used as a platform to inform parents of activities and sessions taking place. Since the closure of the site, a new approach was needed to help these families whilst self-isolating.

Along the Suffolk Coast, rural isolation, poor public transport links and economic hardship create significant barriers to accessing cultural and other activities, and so the need to help families feel less isolated during this difficult time was important.

A child watching mini music makers on a laptop.

The decision was to set up a musical session online through free to view videos. A request system was set up for parents, with all songs requested being filmed and posted on Facebook and YouTube so families could access them.

Through evaluation with parents and feedback received this evolved into the running of zoom Mini Music sessions throughout lockdown. These sessions were led by Joe Carr, Collection and Learning Curator and included a variety of session guests to help broaden the experience for the families. These included musical puppetry, dance workshops and even percussion sessions.

The reaction and feedback from parents towards the online sessions has been fantastic and it is wonderful to see how this has helped families to cope and link together in this difficult time. The comments have shown how this engagement has helped young families feel less isolated.

Thank you for this, we are on 12 week lock down due to poorly lungs so the two year old and two month old will certainly be enjoying this over the coming weeks.

You can also request to join the Mini Music at The Red House Facebook page, which you can find through searching Mini Music Makers at The Red House. Here you will also find all of the song videos as well as community support. Click here to join.