piano - Close up of the hands of a granddaughter and grandmother working together to learn the piano. Getty 944217264

Title: Evaluation of the Making Bridges with Music Intervention 

Funding: Awards for All, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Doorstep Arts, Barton & St Mary Church Childminders Group, Devon Community Foundation, Torbay Culture Board Great Place Scheme, The Torbay Mayor’s Fund and anonymous donations. 

Staff: Claudia Blandon


  • Evaluation commissioned by Lorraine George, Torbay Council Early Years Advisory Team
  • Evaluation delivered by Hugh Nankivell, Steve Sowden, Natalie Palin, Jade Campbell and Meg Searle

Dates live: 2017

Project description

Making Bridges with Music (MBWM) was a pilot intervention that worked with pre-school children and elderly people living in care homes as a target group, but also included the participation of care home staff, childminders and visitors. The intervention aimed to use music and arts as a way to bring together older and younger people. 

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In particular, MBWM aimed to:

  • reduce isolation,
  • improve a sense of self-worth and self-esteem for older and younger alike; and
  • increase community cohesion.

To achieve these aims, the following objectives were identified: 

  • To assess the effectiveness of the intervention using the ArtsObs Scale (Fancourt & Poon, 2015) in terms of wellbeing.
  • To identify CPD opportunities for care home staff and childminders.
  • To create new music for the community and beyond.

The intervention had two phases. The first phase included six creative weekly sessions with young and old people in three residential care homes. The second phase included an artistic response to be performed to the wider public as part of the Doorstep Theatre Festival in November 2017. 

The intervention included music and art sessions led and delivered by one music leader and several artists. It used a combination of music-making, story-telling and arts methods to engage with participants. The sessions were also filmed by a visual artist.

Findings of the evaluation

The project’s evaluation was supported by the University of Plymouth's Institute of Education. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess whether the Making Bridges with Music Intervention was effective in achieving its objectives, with a particular focus on whether it was effective in improving the wellbeing of young children and elderly people attending the sessions. The evaluation used a mixed method design to capture data from verbal, pre and post-verbal participants.

Qualitative methods included: participant observations, delivery team’s fieldnotes, interviews with childminders and care home staff. It also included feedback from verbal participants and a focus group with the delivery team. The evaluation also used the ArtsObs scale (ArtsObs) to quantitively and qualitatively assess the effectiveness of the music interventions on influencing participants’ wellbeing (Fancourt & Poon, 2015).

Key findings

  • Across settings mood changes registering satisfaction and happiness increased across sessions in both sets of participants.
  • Six case studies provided additional qualitative evidence of positive effects on the social and emotional wellbeing on elderly participants and young children.
  • The intervention had a positive effect on young children. Childminders reported that some of the children were speaking more, had developed strategies to connect with post-verbal people, developed connections with residents, took more risks, learnt new music repertoire, learnt to collaborate with a unique team (old and young) and learnt about boundaries.
  • The intergenerational sessions provided a conduit for musical heritage.
  • The intervention provided elderly people with opportunities to learn, be inspired, be physically active and be motivated.
  • Childminders were found to be key in taking the legacy of the intervention to the community and contributing towards community cohesion.