14 Jul 2020

Guest Blog: Accessible Arts & Media – our move to online delivery

During this complicated time, many of our Partners have worked hard to move their delivery online. Accessible Arts and Media have written about their move to delivering sessions online and offer some great advice for anyone doing the same.

Our IMPs programme is an inclusive music project for children and young people.

When lockdown started, we took the decision to start running online sessions, to help our participants keep connected, be creative and have fun while they’re at home.

So far, we’ve been running regular Facebook Live sessions, alongside building up a bank of pre-recorded sessions. All our sessions are also uploaded to our YouTube channel.

Planning Online Sessions

Here are some of the things we’ve found important when planning and reviewing our online sessions:
• Don’t feel you have to start from scratch – you can check out what other people are doing online. There are loads of great resources and some fantastic sessions happening. Chat to your in-house team and freelance artists – we found that we’ve all stumbled across different online activities that we can signpost each other to.
• Take time to talk to your participants, to understand what technology, communications set up and other resources (e.g. musical instruments) they have at home, and to find out what support will be available to help them get online.
• Make sure that session leaders and participants are all familiar with the platform you’re using.
• Make sure that participants know in advance what they’ll need to take part in the session.
• A lot of people won’t have instruments at home – could you run a session on making instruments from stuff you can find around the house?
• Familiarise yourself with the support that’s out there to help people stay connected just now so you can help participants access things like phones, tablets and wifi dongles.
• For those who can’t get online, can you support them in other ways? We’re doing a weekly phone call with one of our participants, having a singalong and a chat.
• Think about the length of the session – the online environment is more tiring both for music leaders and participants, so sessions might need to be shorter than usual.
• Bear in mind that online sessions require the same level of staffing as a face-to-face session. We always have another member of staff on a live session, to moderate comments and look after the tech side of things. And we often have a third person on hand to phone participants who are having trouble getting online.

AAM’s top tips:
• Be kind to yourself! Remember that this online environment is new to all of us - music leaders and participants – no-one’s expecting you to get everything right from the get-go.
• Trust your experience and your knowledge – you know how to lead a session and support participants to take part and a lot of those skills transfer into the online world.
• Don’t underestimate how much participants get out of the social interaction elements of online sessions. Spending 10 minutes at the start of the session letting everyone say hello and catch up with their friends is really important right now.

We’re now starting to set up small group sessions on Zoom. We’re also building some elements of online delivery into all our future project plans, recognising that some of our participants might have to continue to self-isolate for some time.

Useful resources:
• NYMAZ have some great online music-making resources from their Connect:Resound programme.
• And the Youth Music Network have started a bank of online working resources.

AAM Singing and Signing


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