Community Orientated and Opportunity Learning (COOL) Music was a 12-month collaborative project between researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University and practitioners at the Edinburgh-based social enterprise Heavy Sound.

BJME is a fully refereed international journal, which provides clear, stimulating and readable accounts of contemporary research in music education worldwide, and a section containing extended book reviews which further current debates. The journal strives to strengthen connections between research and practice, so enhancing professional development and improving practice within the field of music education. The range of subjects covers music teaching and learning in formal and informal contexts including classroom, individual, group and whole class instrumental and vocal teaching, music in higher education, international comparative music education, music in community settings, and teacher education.


In the UK, local authorities are increasingly employing arts-based strategies and techniques to address the social determinants on health and well-being (APPG, 2017:10). Yet, these benefits are not enjoyed equally across society. Participation and engagement in creative activities are often particularly low amongst ‘looked after children’,1 those with behavioural problems and those liv- ing in the country’s most deprived communities (Harrison & Mullen, 2013:vii). Young people within this demographic group are least likely to progress to a positive destination after leaving school, more likely to be involved in anti-social behaviour and are often deemed ‘disadvantaged’or ‘at risk’ (Scottish Government, 2017:3–4).

In Scotland, small-scale music projects have been shown to have positive effects in improving participants’ health and well-being, stretching from choirs for the elderly (Hillman, 2002), to cre- ative music making in prisons (Anderson & Overy, 2010; Mendonça, 2010) and home-based mu- sic education for children with autism (Sanderson, Sparkes, & Murray, 2013). Yet, more recently, the Scottish Government has focused much of its funding on supporting larger scale musical proj- ects such as the Tinderbox Collective and Sistema Scotland (Baker, 2017). Although the latter has been championed for its attempt to improve the health, well-being and engagement of young peo- ple through music making (GCPH, 2015, 2017), some researchers have reservations in relation to its approach, which they regard as ‘top-down’ and ‘strictly controlled’ (Logan, 2016; Baker, 2017).

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