Once upon a time, Soundcastle was formed by a group of women that wanted to work authentically and openly with people to make new music. In the early days a wise woman asked us, do you bring joy? We were temporarily stunned into silence, no-one had ever asked us that before. We were used to being asked:
“Why are you best placed to deliver this work?”
“Prove your organisation’s track record.”
“What is your USP?”
But never anything so direct, so simple, and so vital as:
“Do you bring joy?”
Perhaps at the time we are too modest, too humble to know how to even begin to answer.
But recently, as I sat down to write an impact report and sifted through some feedback, I felt like I could confidently say, yes, yes we do, and why isn’t that going to be the basis of my report?
Soundcastle Bristol is our newest branch, and it’s been a long road to get it off the ground. Having two babies and going through a pandemic put a stop to me personally making music in a room with people for several years. When we finally launched Musical Beacons in Bristol, and I was preparing to facilitate the first sessions, I noticed some creeping anxiety and doubt. Did I still have it??
I wasn’t the only one bringing anxiety to the sessions.
Parents with disabled children have been isolated not only by the pandemic, but by the constant fear of judgement they encounter in their daily lives.
I found parents arriving full of concerns, clearly worried about how their children would behave, if we would judge them, if they would meet our expectations. Or equally, if we would meet their expectations or if we would let them down by a lack of understanding, as they had been let down so many times before. In these cases, it’s not enough to reassure and tell people it’s ok.
It has to BE ok. And we have to share joy. Carefree, fun, playful joy. Joy is healing, levelling. It is completely essential for our well-being. But yet it can feel like a guilty pleasure to admit that our job is joyful.
In a training session with facilitators, as we did a conga line around the room, someone said, “I have to remind myself I’m getting paid for this!” We had the same thoughts again as the words, “you lead the mouse epiphany” found their way into a musical training activity. We are so quick to feel disbelief that our job can be so joyful.
Instead we should be proudly saying, YES we get paid for this. Yes it is joyful, and yes it is needed. Joy can be transformational, and let’s embrace and celebrate where we can play a part in spreading it around.