Main research focus
The main research focus of SIMM is the possible social impacts of learning and playing music.
We do not wish to restrict ourselves in advance with respect to potential research areas or research questions regarding the use of music in socio-artistic work. We want to keep an open mind towards research projects that can be presented to us.
Here one can find an overview John Sloboda made in 2019 of ongoing SIMM-type research as presented the last years at SIMM-posia and SIMM-seminars.
Focus on participants
Because there is a need for this, SIMM is particularly interested in supporting research that places participants in socio-artistic projects in the centre. This does not mean that no attention will be paid to the perspective of providers and mentors of such initiatives or to the social and political context, but research that places participants in the spotlights can count on a special place at SIMM.
SIMM also focuses on opportunities to strengthen the position and the needs of the participants of social music projects, through publications, presentations and subsequent discussions with the interested parties, lectures, documentaries, etcetera. These can be attended, seen or read by them, as well as by others from outside the academic world.
We not only want to look at music in social-artistic projects in the ‘global North’, but also greatly develop contacts, partnerships and support and guide research in the ‘global South’, in collaboration with researchers from universities. This also includes the growing research field on music projects in the north with refugees originating from southern countries.
Music in prisons
One of the research areas of the SIMM-platform will in the nearby future be: working with music in prison environments, mainly because several board members within the association (and several external partners) are particularly interested and accumulated some relevant experience in this field.
Musicians and social and community workers
Questions concerning the exact role of musicians and social and community workers in socio-artistic projects with music, as well as their needs in terms of training for this specific context of musical social-artistic projects evoke a keen interest. We also want to consider the question of what it means for musicians and social and community workers to participate in such projects, and how it affects them.
Services to third parties
Over time, SIMM aims to be able – always in a close collaboration with universities and university colleges – to also carry out evaluations and external monitoring on behalf of governments, sponsors or the providers themselves. Consequently, the focus will continue to be placed upon research into what learning and playing music sets in motion for the participants in SIMM-practice.
It is definitely not the ambition of SIMM to justify music as an art from the social benefits that it might have, but this does not exclude that SIMM can play a role in identifying and evaluating or monitoring social music programs.
SIMM’s positive motivation hereby is: through serious research come to recommendations about improving music practices in social and community work, because social music projects can have a positive or less positive impact.
Qualitative case studies and long-term ethnographical research are given priority, so that in time, we will be able to arrive at a better understanding of the possible influence that playing music can have upon individuals who are striving to improve their social circumstances.
The SIMM research platform works in close contact with various departments of universities and university colleges in different countries, which each have their own points of view and preferences regarding the research methodology they prefer. This certainly gives way to discussions, but it also ensures a versatile and diverse approach. SIMM does not force the associated researchers to limit themselves to one particular research methodology.
The accompanying staff of research projects associated to SIMM is not only multidisciplinary – from a sociological, political, psychological, educational, and socio-artistic point of view – but also allows a wider choice of research methodology.
A special place is thereby reserved for setting up and developing comparative research.
Being an international network, SIMM especially facilitates the exchange of practical and research experiences and will in the nearby future also encourage publications on this or create them itself. The June 2021 special edition of Musicae Scientiae on research on social impacts of music making is edited by SIMM-cofounders Brydie-Leigh Bartleet and Lukas Pairon.