Main research focus
The focus of our research area should not be too large. We are particularly interested in the possible social impacts of learning and playing music, as studied from the perspective of participants in social-artistic programmes.
We do not wish to restrict ourselves in advance with respect to potential research areas or research questions regarding the use of music in social-artistic work. We want to keep an open mind towards research projects that can be presented to us.
Focus on participants
Because there is a need for this, SIMM will put a special focus on 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 organizers 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 will also focus on opportunities to strengthen the position and the needs of the participants of socio-artistic 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 in Bogota, Kinshasa, Birzeit, Tel Aviv, etc. 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-centre will be: working with music in prison environments, mainly because several staff 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.
We wish to launch an advisory group around each research project accompanied by SIMM. These advisory groups will be composed of experienced people who are able to approach the research from different angles and perspectives and who are interested in the implementation and practical consequences, or even in the political and economic impact. These advisory groups will not only be ready to help spreading the results of the research project to various target groups afterwards. They will also help researchers to reflect about possibilities to make research more relevant and transferable, and also in defining the goals of the study they are undertaking. This will provide a backup for the researcher, who will stay in contact with consultants who are able to provide assistance from different perspectives and thereby enrich the process and final outcome of the research. Participants in socio-artistic music programs can also be represented themselves in such an advisory group, so that the result is not just the work of an individual, but rather of a team with diverse perspectives.
Services to third parties
Over time, SIMM aims to be able – always in a close collaboration with universities and university colleges – to establish itself as a research platform which, in addition to enquiry into social-artistic projects and programmes, can 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 these kinds of programmes.
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 socio-artistic music programs.
SIMM’s positive motivation hereby is: through serious research come to recommendations about improving music practices in social and community work, because socio-artistic 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 will work 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 will certainly give way to discussions, but it will also ensure a versatile and diverse approach. SIMM will not force the associated researchers to limit themselves to one particular research methodology.
The accompanying staff of research projects associated to SIMM will not only be multidisciplinary – from a sociological, political, psychological, educational, and socio-artistic point of view – but also allow a wider choice of research methodology.
A special place will also be reserved for the possibility to set up and develop 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.