The wheelchair is invisible

The wheelchair is invisible

On 11 April, Linda Yates, Margaret Smith and Heather Strohschein presented The wheelchair is invisible – a conversation about accessibility and inclusivity in the time of Covid  at MACSEM 2021, a conference organised by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter for the Society for Ethnomusicology.

  • Margaret – a community musician who facilitates Good Vibrations’ Resonate project, which provides inclusive musical workshops
  • Linda – an amateur musician, participant advisor for Good Vibrations and representative of people with additional support needs
  • Heather – an ethnomusicologist whose works centres on gamelan outside of Indonesia, and community music-making

The video paper explored inclusivity, consent, ethnomusicology, academic language and accessibility. It was crafted from hours of conversations between Scotland and the USA. In it, Linda defined an inclusive session as one where, “All of it involves everybody. Nobody says, ‘You’re disabled, you can’t play that’. You learn at your own pace. Each person has got a different level of ability and they learn in their own time.” And, Heather, said the pandemic enabled her to do things she would never have been able to do before, like go to Resonate sessions (online) – “I can’t pop down to Resonate in Glasgow from Bowling Green, Ohio, usually!”

The approach they took and the resulting film was notably different, at an academic ethnomusicology conference. Katherine Metz, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Oberlin College, who was chairing the panel, was visibly moved. Delegates were “In awe of the presentation”. They “Loved this approach in that it’s focused on how it feels to engage with this process”. They remarked, “We so often lose the laughter in the translation to the academic realm”, and felt that “This presentation and format speaks to so many issues”.

Linda, Margaret and Heather want their conversation about accessibility and inclusivity to become a conversation with you. They invite you to watch it, share it and use it to start a conversation. Please feedback your thoughts by emailing Heather on or Mags on

Date: 25 June, 2021

Author: Katy Haigh, Executive Director, Good Vibrations

Our 2019-20 annual report and accounts

Our 2019-20 annual report and accounts

We are delighted to share our 2019-20 annual report and accounts with you. Like everyone, we write this report looking back on the year from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic. Current circumstances are so unusual for everyone that they make the normality of 2019/20 look very remote. However, this report peers back through the fog, to look at our last full year through the lens of normality.

In 2018 we developed our three-year strategy. 2019/20 was our first year of implementation. We decided on a vision of “a safer and more empathetic UK, where vulnerable people, including those convicted of offences, are given the chance to become valued members of society, and to forge fulfilling, constructive lives.” Our corresponding mission was: “to inspire vulnerable people with complex needs to see what they are capable of, to motivate them, and to give them the tools to build more positive futures.” And our strategy was: “to help 1,500 people per year by 2022; and secure the long-term future of our work through slightly more staff, and more diverse sources of income, including from corporates and philanthropists.”

How well did we do against the goals we set ourselves?

The most important aspect of our strategy was of course who we helped and how we helped them. And during the first year, we exceeded the goal we had set for helping people by 10%, reaching 868 participants. We also reached more people in more settings. Our community work in particular involved working with many more partners, especially in Glasgow, a thriving centre of excellence for our work. In the prison estate, we had decided on a shorter, more focused list of settings where we will work. Our focus is on existing partners, then on more category B/C training prisons, on the female estate, in young offender institutions, and in secure training centres. This paid off; we delivered in all these, and have strong relationships in many prison settings across Great Britain as a result.

I’m pleased to say our finances continued to grow in resilience in 2019/20, which turned out to be invaluable when the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. We exceeded our income target for 2019/20, and we added not just our target £12,000 to unrestricted reserves, but nearly £22,000. We continued to diversify sources of income, including a 60% increase in individual giving. The one strategic source from which we raised no funds was corporate donations. This was despite a number of positive conversations. If anyone reading this report thinks they could connect us to a regular corporate donor, please do get in touch with Katy Haigh.

Our report for 2020/21 will look very different, because of Covid-19. We have been enormously grateful for the vision and flexibility of key funders, who have enabled us to diversify our activities and beneficiaries – even during lockdown. But of course the pandemic has given everyone a lot to think about. As a result we have recently undertaken a strategic review, which will soon result in an updated strategy. This review re-affirmed the central focus of our work and charitable objectives: using the power of collective music-making, creativity and teamwork, centering on the gamelan orchestra, to encourage and motivate people who feel disempowered because of the institutional settings they find themselves in and because of their previous life history. This power was very obvious during 2019/20 and we know it can return in a world recovering from the effects of Covid-19.

This pandemic has shone a sharp light on many themes we value as trustees and as a charity: the power of social connection; the unstoppable force of human creativity; the link between our mental health and our ability to live full and productive lives. We believe our mission to inspire people around these complex needs will be even more relevant in a world looking beyond (and back on) the current pandemic.

Jonathan Hollow, Chair of Good Vibrations’ Board of Trustees


Design and build a new digital gamelan

Design and build a new digital gamelan

Author: Good Vibrations

National charity, Good Vibrations is calling for developers to submit proposals to design and build a new digital gamelan. Organisations and individuals who are interested should view and download the full brief here. Deadline for expressions of interest is the 9th December 2020. We plan to invite shortlisted people to present their initial proposals to us and discuss the project further on the week of the 14th December. This will be done virtually on Zoom.

Some of our aims, in commissioning this new digital gamelan, are to:

  • Enable novices, professionals and those in between to create and practise music on their own and with others using an accurate and authentic sounding digital gamelan orchestra
  • Help Good Vibrations continue generating positive personal, social and musical impacts for its target beneficiaries when our usual group gamelan projects can’t run
  • Help Good Vibrations continue generating positive impacts with participants post-project through a non-formal learning progression option that reinforces skills they developed and memories they experienced during their project with us
  • Enhance the experience for those already using digital gamelan, by improving the functionality offered, and maintaining the product robustly so its benefits are long-term
  • Generate another potentially impactful product and approach to add to Good Vibrations’ offer, to benefit a wider range of people in more ways in the future
  • Further widen access to the gamelan – enabling people to experience gamelan who can’t access a real gamelan orchestra or who are disinclined to give it a go

Good Vibrations remains committed to human, in person, group gamelan work remaining at the heart of what we do as a charity. We want to develop a virtual, technology-enabled strand using a digital gamelan to enhance our current offer, rather than replace it.

Date: 30 November 2020

Questions and answers about the commission: last updated 30 November 2020

Here is a list of questions people have put to us about this commission since advertising it, and our answers:

Q: “It has to *at least as good as* the one Wells Music School did a few years ago (Virtual Gamelan, sadly now – I think – unavailable) …”

A: “Yes, the, @UniOfYork R&D report and our feasibility study reached a similar conclusion! The brief we’ve put together name checks several highly rated past/existing digital gamelan and we are very keen for their developers to consider submitting a proposal for this new commission. We are in conversation with the developers of previous/existing digital gamelan to explore this option further.”

Q: “I was assuming this digital gamelan was just meant for gamelan musicians, and given the partnership with The University of York, they would develop the app. Is that not correct?”

A. “No, we want this digital gamelan to be both 1) Accessible for complete beginners and 2) Able to provide quite advanced functionality and features to experienced gamelan musicians. We know this is a huge ask! We recognise that our desired functionality, as set out in the brief, will only be able to be achieved in phased developments over time. We want prospective developers to have the confidence to present their proposals for that phasing to us. This is a project we value and want to support and develop long-term. We see the multitude of benefits it could bring – see the brief for full details of these. And, yes, this is a partnership project with The University of York, but we are opening out this commission to everyone to be fair and to increase the chances of us gaining more diverse proposals from a wide variety of developers. We are also keen for people who have already developed a digital gamelan to consider joining forces with us on this commission, to develop something even more accessible, with more functionality as per what the research says users want, and what Good Vibrations anticipates its target audiences will benefit from.”

Q: “Is this opportunity only open to UK developers?”

A: “No, it is open to everyone.”

Q. “Is Good Vibrations expecting all the desired features and functionality in the brief to be delivered in one phase, before April 2021?”

A. “No, we appreciate this this is an extremely ambitious brief, and at this point in time, we want developers to tell us how they would deliver phase 1 – but future-proofing it ready for the later phases.”

Benjamin Zephaniah’s Radio 4 appeal for Good Vibrations

Benjamin Zephaniah’s Radio 4 appeal for Good Vibrations

From the 9-15 August 2020, Professor Benjamin Zephaniah, presented a BBC Radio 4 appeal on behalf of Good Vibrations. You can listen to his three-minute appeal here: It tells his story, and the story of Good Vibrations’ participant, Errol, who grew up in care, spent many years in prison, but who has now gone on to turn his life around with the support of Good Vibrations and other arts and rehabilitation charities.

We are so grateful to everyone who has donated to the appeal so far. Their donations will help us to work with 100s more men, women and young people in prisons and young offender institutions. If you like what you hear and would like to support the appeal too, you can still donate here.

Thank you.

Benjamin also recorded the below for us talking about why he chose to support our charity.


Good Vibrations adapts in response to Covid-19

Good Vibrations adapts in response to Covid-19

Author: Good Vibrations

The pandemic has hit charities hard, and their beneficiaries even harder. But Good Vibrations, an award-winning national charity, using communal music-making to support people with complex needs, has throughout lock-down, developed creative ways to stay connected with the communities it supports. Supported by its funders, Good Vibrations has not hibernated, as many charities have been forced to do. It has adapted, found a positive opportunity within the crisis, and unlocked a flood of creativity. Instead of large group face to face music projects, it has devised a range of alternative activities and content – largely online – that are all about stimulating connection, creativity, learning and reflection.

A Charity News Today article tells you more.

Positive family relationships help reduce the chances of re-offending

Positive family relationships help reduce the chances of re-offending

Author: Good Vibrations

This beautiful comic was created by Studio Lindsay (@Studio.Lindsay) for The New Issue magazine in 2020. It was based on a Big Issue North article by Deborah Mulhearn about her visit to a Good Vibrations family gamelan project at Liverpool Prison. It depicts how Good Vibrations is working to use gamelan to help men, women and young people in prisons and young offender institutions to develop better relationships with their family members. Positive family relationships are a crucial factor in reducing the chances of people re-offending when they have served their sentence and been released.

We do this work in partnership with the secure institutions and education providers working within them, such as Novus. The projects are supported by wonderful funders such as the National Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, National Foundation for Youth Music and more.

You can click on the images to enlarge them, and we’ve even made a short film of this comic with a gamelan soundtrack on our You Tube page.










Members of our Resonate project interview Bill Bailey

Members of our Resonate project interview Bill Bailey

One of Good Vibrations’ patrons, talented musician and comedian, Bill Bailey, gave members of our Glasgow Resonate group an exclusive interview earlier this year. The experience gave them an insight into how he handles nerves when performing, why he likes gamelan so much, and who inspired him early on in his musical career.

This interview took place as part of Exploring Performance, a project that the group came up with themselves as a way of developing their skills and knowledge as musicians and performers.

You can watch the short film of the interview here.

Exploring Performance

Exploring Performance

We’re delighted to launch a short film about Exploring Performance – a fantastic idea conceived by our Glasgow Resonate group. You can watch it here.

On this project, group members interviewed and improvised with famous world music artists, Bill Bailey and Bapak Prasadiyanto, and went to a Gamelan Naga Mas concert at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The video thanks all the wonderful supporters who made this project possible. We are looking for to growing this work in the future.

We are recruiting for an Admin & Comms Co-ordinator

We are recruiting for an Admin & Comms Co-ordinator

We are looking for an Admin & Comms Co-ordinator to provide marketing and administrative support across our charity’s programmes and services. This role will involve:

  • Co-ordinating and distributing project paperwork
  • Updating the participant progression and support database
  • Writing up notes from meetings and events
  • Carrying out general housekeeping to keep the charity’s IT systems up to date
  • Designing, organising and distributing marketing materials
  • Keeping Good Vibrations’ social media and website fresh and up to date
  • Co-ordinating and supporting occasional small individual giving campaigns and other projects

The job description tells you more about the role. If you want to apply, please send us the following by 12pm on the 23rd March 2020:

  1. A CV and covering letter detailing how you meet the person specification requirements – to
  2. A completed Equal Opps Form 2020 – to

This is a part time role and the post-holder will be expected to work from home. (All our team members work from home across the country.) We are looking to recruit someone who lives close enough to Oxford to regularly meet with our Operations Manager (the post-holder’s line manager) who is based there.

We will let you know if we would like to invite you to interview, by the 27th March. Interviews will take place in Oxford on either the 20th or 21st April. We would ideally like the person to start in post before June.



Loophole Music – providing stimulation and a safe space for self-expression at Bethlem Royal Hospital

Loophole Music – providing stimulation and a safe space for self-expression at Bethlem Royal Hospital

Loophole Music is a communal music making project at the Bethlem Royal Hospital in South London supporting patients’ wellbeing and recovery. The Maudsley Charity are generously supporting this project over three years, with funding coming from The National Foundation for Youth Music too.

The Maudsley Charity has written this great article about Loophole Music and the difference their funding is making to patients at the hospital through the project.

“Each Loophole session we do shows us the empowerment that comes from music making. The secret ingredient behind this confidence building exercise is that it is enveloped in fun.”

Kieran Plunkett, facilitator



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