The Lullaby Project

The Irene Taylor Trust collaborated with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Resound to bring the Lullaby Project to three regions of the UK (Suffolk, Hull & London) between 2020 and 2022, following a successful pilot in 2017 (see below for more on the pilot, including evaluation). In November 2020 it was shortlisted for a RPS Award for Impact.

Originally devised by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute in the US, the Lullaby Project invites participants to work with professional musicians to write a personal lullaby for their children. The aim of the project is to strengthen the bond between parent and child through a creative arts activity. The project can also be a way for parents to explore and express their emotions in a safe, non-judgmental environment. ITT initially became involved in the Lullaby Project through commissions by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which included co-delivering the Lullaby Project in Chicago.

Support for the second phase of UK Lullaby Projects was from:

ACE logo

The Foyle Foundation, The Kestrelman Trust, The Radcliffe Trust, Suffolk Community Foundation

BBC Radio 4 documentary 

A BBC Radio 4 documentary followed the creative process of one of the projects with fathers in prison, sensitively telling the stories of the men writing songs for their children. It first aired 11th January 2022, was featured on ‘Pick of The Week’ and is now available to listen again on ‘Seriously’ podcast steam here.

Lullaby Projects with men in prison, July and November 2021

In July 2021 we were delighted that the Lullaby Project could finally return to physical delivery (after two projects adapted for online delivery during lockdown); also our first in-person intensive project in a prison since the pandemic began. The prison Governor visited the rehearsals with the men and said: “I have experienced this kind of intervention with offenders many times over the years. I’ve always found when you go away, there are people left here in cells who will be better for it. They have experienced something incredible. Generally, prisoners are nice people of normal IQ who’ve come through hard times and truly appreciate talented professionals such as yourselves giving them encouragement, hope and something different. Most prisoners have a lack of self-esteem, lack of ambition and don’t even realise how isolated they’ve become, and this interaction with such talented people allows them to experience a sense of release, normality and frequently sparks off an element of positivity which they’ve not experienced in life. The value of them meeting with talented, non-judgmental influences is inestimable and the prison management has a real debt of thanks to you.”

In November we were able to return for a second project with a new group of dads, who feature in the BBC Radio 4 documentary. You can listen to the beautiful songs they wrote with us for their children below.


Lullaby Project with Open Doors, Hull 2021

Lullaby Project with YMCA Trinity, Suffolk 2020

In November and December restrictions from Covid-19 prompted us to bring the Lullaby Project online, using Zoom to work with young mums from YMCA Trinity in Ipswich to write their lullabies, before watching live-streaming of the musicians playing through their songs, allowing them to make changes before the final recordings:

Lullaby Projects with Praxis, Clean Break & Sounding Out, London 2020

London was the first region for these new Lullaby Projects in early 2020. We partnered with Praxis Community Projects to work with migrant & refugee mothers and with Clean Break & Sounding Out to work with mothers & fathers with experience of the criminal justice system. Listen to the resulting lullabies below.

Lullaby Project featured on BBC Proms at Home, August 2020

We were delighted to feature on the BBC Proms interactive Proms At Home, which profiles our Lullaby Project. Creative workshop leader Lucy Drever interviews some of the musicians we have supported to create their own lullabies and shows you how to write your own! This is a great opportunity to get creative at home!

Lullaby Project featured on BBC proms at home

If that wasn’t enough, our brilliant project leader musician Nick Hayes has specially arranged one of the lullabies, ‘Daddy’s Little Man’, for the BBC Singers – it’s really lovely!

All that and more are on the BBC Proms At Home website here

Piloting the Lullaby Project in the UK in 2017

The Lullaby Project artwork by Steph Ramplin

In the summer of 2017 the Irene Taylor Trust worked in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Resound (RPO) to bring the project to the UK. Over the course of two months, our project leaders worked with young refugee and migrant mothers in the WINGS group at Praxis Community Projects and fathers in a London prison.

After the first live sharing our Artistic Director Sara Lee wrote; “I’ve never minded getting up in the morning as I love my job. Today was particularly special as I spent it with a wonderful group of refugee and migrant mothers and some fabulous musicians. Over the past couple of weeks we have been helping the mums write lullabies for their children and today we recorded and performed them. They were, to a woman, excited, emotional, resolute, and hugely impressive. Many of their children, aged 3 months and up, heard their mums sing to them and will now have these songs for ever.”

BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour ran a short piece about the project, which you can listen to here.

Audience feedback included:

“So beautiful. Really emotional. I wish this project was available to all mums! Great to hear mums sharing their stories and love with their children.”

“Very moving, great commitment from everyone, wonderful to have top quality musicians involved.”

“Found it very emotional and so heart-warming to allow women to express their love through words and music.”

The UK pilots of the  Lullaby Project were supported by Arts Council England, Swan Mountain Trust and The Lucille Graham Trust

Creating beautiful music to share with children

Listen to the tracks recorded with the WINGS group at Praxis Community Projects here:

The tracks created with men in prison are available here:

Evaluating the Lullaby Project UK pilot

Researcher Sara Ascenso followed the process of bringing the Lullaby Project to the UK and created a report assessing the impact of the pilots, concluding that “the Lullaby Project model stands as a highly relevant initiative towards meeting the needs of both participant groups and the musicians, and the results make a strong case for its implementation in the UK.”

The full report is available to read here: The Lullaby Project Areas of Change and Mechanisms of Impact research by Sara Ascenso

Exploring the bond between parent and child through music

The Irene Taylor Trust has worked with parents on many occasions over the years. In 2015 & 16 we successfully co-delivered Lullaby Projects with teen parents in Chicago. Other projects focusing on parenthood have included: ‘Beyond the Secret Door’ (British Composers Award winner 2003), a children’s songbook written by women in prison; ‘Two Sides’ in HMYOI Werrington (2012) which brought together young men with their families; and ‘I See You, I See Me’ (2005), a collection of songs exploring how men in prison felt about fatherhood.

Please consider supporting our work 

Our work is only possible thanks to support from those who share our belief in the power of music to transform lives. If you like what we do and would like to help us do more, find out about the ways you can support us here (including making one off donation, becoming a friend, or spreading the word on social media).

Your support in any form would be greatly appreciated. Find out more about how our projects can help people to make positive changes their lives here.

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