Engagement benefits with leisure-time music are multi-layered

‘Making music is fun, uses different skills to those you need to employ in the rest of your life, is relaxing and stress-busting, and makes you feel better about yourself. In scientific terms, there is now a growing body of’ proven ‘research which shows that this can amount to better physical and mental health: making music really is good for you’ – and therefore ‘saves the NHS and social services money’.

‘Everyone can make music, from a two-year-old to a 90-year-old, whether rich or poor, disabled or not. It can help to bring communities together across generations, social classes, income brackets, disabled’, and able-bodied. ‘An obvious benefit of that is that it reduces loneliness and social exclusion, which are a very real cost to local services’. Leisure time ‘music groups can also help generate pride in a place and community, helping to transform an area into somewhere people want to live and feel safe and connected in’.

‘Making music not only raises health and well-being generally for all kinds of individuals, it can actually provide cost effective support for people with a range of chronic conditions, from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to dementia’ [1]. ‘There is scientific evidence to prove these effects’.

‘At practically no public cost, brass band activities have important local economic implications and benefits’: brass band ‘audiences will not only help to keep the venues going in which their concerts take place and where they rehearse, they will also spend money locally on transport, food and drink. Economic impact studies [2] have shown that for every £1 of public money invested through Arts Council England, the chancellor receives £5 back in tax (mainly VAT), and that for every £1 of turnover art and culture generates, 51p of GVA (Gross Value Added, which is the net benefit once the external cost has been stripped out) is added to the economy. Furthermore, every £1 spent by local authorities on the arts in their area leverages an additional £4 of funding or income for the area’ [3].

Brass bands ‘are not only independent of the public purse, but actually contribute to the support of other voluntary organisations through donations and fundraising concerts’. Many brass bands help to ‘raise thousands of pounds every year for other charities’.

Brass bands are a major source of enjoyment for substantial audiences. In England alone, ‘leisure-time music groups promote approximately 48,000 events a year to an estimated 6 million audience members’.

‘In many areas’, events promoted by brass bands ‘may be the only arts experiences available for local audiences’.

‘Many music works requiring large numbers of participants, or of a special interest, or niche genre, might never be performed if it wasn’t for leisure time music groups’ such as brass bands. In Sheffield a few brass bands are included in only a handful of guardians of a range of musical traditions such as the Sheffield local carols.

Brass bands provide a potential ‘opportunity for experimentation, innovation and for new composers to practice their craft’: several local bands have engaged with such composers. ‘Large scale or challenging new works are unlikely to be performed by professional groups unless the composer has a track record. The voluntary music sector is the nursing ground for tomorrow’s composers’.

Brass bands, like the ones in the Sheffield area, are part of a wider community of leisure time musicians that ‘provide the bridge between learning and a professional career for many music professionals, making leisure time music groups the foundation of our very healthy – and profitable – music industry’.

Source: Making Music Nov 2015