• Rachael Perrin, Co-director of Sound Sense member Soundcastle
News & Views
Who is looking after us?
Date posted: 09 November 2021
Rachael Perrin of Soundcastle encourages her fellow community musicians to explore how we can support ourselves and one another to be the best version of ourselves, in order to best serve our communities, peers and families

As community musicians we spend our lives collaborating with wonderfully inspiring, challenging and beautiful communities. Our worlds are often filled with inspiration, joy and song. They’re also often filled with pressure, challenge and questions. To be good at what we do, we need to be vulnerable and vulnerability needs support. What this means to each of us will be so different. To one person vulnerability might be sharing how you are with a group at the start of a session. To another it may mean using your voice when you’re used to facilitating from your instrument. It might mean working with a group of people that you are new to, or walking into a room without a plan.

When we’re not able to be vulnerable we are prone to hiding; behind a repertoire of games, activities and songs that may not enable us to be truly present and connect with the people in the space.

To be a brilliant community musician, we need to be responsive and that requires us to be healthy, open and ready for whatever comes.

At Soundcastle, we believe that it’s essential to have a community of peers with whom you feel safe sharing your highs and lows, without judgement. How do we do this? We build in reflective space before and after our sessions and host regular reflective practice sessions as a team. We hold an online community - the Soundcastle Community - in which practitioners connect with each other, sharing their experiences and questions. We take time when we need time and we support each other when someone needs to step back and pause.

Whilst we do all these things as an organisation, we’re very conscious of all the freelancers that work both with us and with the thousands of incredible community music organisations across the country. We think that many organisations need to take more responsibility for supporting practitioner wellbeing and also want to support practitioners to find their own space and balance.

Many of you are members of the Soundcastle Community and have attended our training events, pop-up courses and Community Cuppas. This space was founded in lockdown one but was actually conceived before the pandemic after conversations with many of you about the isolated nature of community practice. It can be easy to feel connected when surrounded by people in projects but our conversations evidenced a void for many practitioners who move from space to space without time for reflection or a team to bounce challenges with. It is possible to spend a day with 200 people and still feel lonely.

‘Within the Soundcastle Community there is a refreshing honesty about our shared difficulties and vulnerabilities as artists, as well as everything that is wonderful about creative music making!’

 After 15 months of events, training, courses, tea breaks and chats in the Soundcastle Community we are now pondering on what next? There is some digital fatigue out there and we’re keen to make the transition from 100% online to some regional meet-ups as well as making sure we can be there at the click of a button when needed. If you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see then please do let us know! The space is free to join so jump in and get involved!

Rachael x


You can read Rachael's full article in the October issue of Sounding Board, the journal of community music, where she also includes some mindful activities - an opportunity to give yourself a well-deserved break :) Sounding Board is a rich source of shared community music practice, research, information and inspiration from across our sector that is for and by Sound Sense members. Get in touch with us today to chat about joining the Sound Sense family of music practitioners - we would love to hear from you.