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Wellbeing and integration through community music: the role of improvisation in a music group of refugees, asylum seekers and local community members

Vougioukalou, Sofia ORCID:, Dow, Rosie, Bradshaw, Laura and Pallant, Tracy 2019. Wellbeing and integration through community music: the role of improvisation in a music group of refugees, asylum seekers and local community members. Contemporary Music Review 38 (5) , pp. 533-548. 10.1080/07494467.2019.1684075

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This paper discusses the link between community music improvisation and the integration of refugees, asylum seekers and local residents, and proposes a new way of thinking about priority-setting in refugee integration and rehabilitation support schemes. Drawing on observations and interviews with an integrated music group in Wales, we explore the effect of participating in structured musical activities and improvisation in weekly meetings, as well as at public performances in community arts events. We observed that embedding improvisation led to four outcomes. It (i) encouraged individual unscripted performances, instilling confidence in solo performance, (ii) gave individuals who had experienced displacement and marginalisation a chance to lead in a safe, performative space, (iii) gave other participants a chance to follow and accompany this piece instrumentally or vocally, drawing on their own cultural traditions and thus creating innovative cross-cultural pieces; and (iv) provided participants and audience members with a unique and unrepeated, uplifting experience that triggered their imaginations, and prompted questions and further discussion between participants. These findings suggest that the combination of structured musical activity and improvisation may help to foster a sense of wellbeing and social inclusion, shift power dynamics, and create a space for cross-cultural dialogue. These unique outcomes highlight how music can create a community of people from seemingly completely different locations or situations. Furthermore, the well-established Welsh choral traditions and local community arts provided a receptive environment for this diverse group of performers. Therefore, it was not just the musical activities but their connection to the wider local community arts scene that delivered these individual, collective and wider societal benefits

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0749-4467
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 January 2019
Date of Acceptance: 19 December 2018
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 05:46

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