Research Report by Simone Krüger Bridge (LJMU)
The Digital Turn: Exploring the Social Value of Liverpool Cathedral’s Online Music Outreach Programme during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Since 2020, Liverpool Cathedral’s music programme has been the subject of research led by Dr Simone Krüger Bridge , Reader in Music at Liverpool John Moores University.
The Digital Turn research project involved empirical research during 2020-2021 that sought to understand the social value of online music participation at Liverpool Cathedral during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The insights gained during The Digital Turn project show how Liverpool Cathedral’s online music activities played a vital role across all sorts of social, cultural, educational and wellbeing dimensions during the Covid-19 pandemic, helping to mitigate the negative effects of lockdown and prolonged stress and uncertainty.
The key outcomes of the research include:
- Under conditions of social restrictions during the global pandemic crisis, many people felt a lack of control, anxiety and loneliness. Consequently, one hugely important reason for online music participation during the Covid-19 pandemic was “keeping in touch” and “social contact” during the lockdowns.
- The online music sessions proved immensely valuable for parents of babies and toddlers. Through observations and talking to babies’ parents, the research showed that online music participation in Teeny Maestro sessions played a vital role for babies’ socialization and relationship building, and their social, emotional and cognitive development.
- The continuation of music education online was an important reason for people to continue their music participation in Liverpool Cathedral’s music activities, appreciating the widely shared perception that Liverpool Cathedral “have kept us focused on learning new music”.
- People feel a great sense of pride, affinity and prestige about their connection to Liverpool Cathedral, which was also important during the global pandemic crisis. It is the most important British church building of the twentieth century, which people have taken to their hearts because of the sheer architectural power that it exerts and the memories which it embodies. It is a central part of the city’s identity, indelibly linked to the experiences Liverpool has lived through of war, economic change, regeneration and the recent Covid-19 pandemic. It also holds a special place in the story of English Cathedral music, in part because of its world-famous church organ but equally because of its choral traditions and the way in which music has been used in the Cathedral’s distinctive liturgy and, in more recent times, for outreach engagement and community participation.
- Musical engagement enhanced people’s general wellbeing, a much-needed necessity throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Liverpool Cathedrals’ online musical activities were meaningful and useful to people for coping with the negative consequences of the pandemic, supported resilience on individual and community levels, and helped affect regulation.
The research report is available to download below.
The research results were disseminated via public engagement activities, including a live-streamed research presentation at Liverpool Cathedral, an interview on BBC Radio Merseyside and a news article in The Church Times.
It of significant concern that the recent return to in-person music participation may enhance people’s abilities to cope with and recover from the pandemic, and be conducive to long-term consequences for education, belonging and wellbeing in the transition to post-Covid-19 society.
Starting from September 2022, a new round of empirical research, led by Dr Simone Krüger Bridge, will seek to shed light on how in-person music participation can provide efficient strategies in the aftermath of the still ongoing pandemic and in the transition to post-Covid-19 society.
The online questionnaire gathers insights into the experiences and perceptions of children, young people and adults, including their families, who actively participate in Liverpool Cathedral's music outreach programme.
“The Social Value of Music Participation: Exploring the Impacts of Liverpool Cathedral's Music Outreach Programme in Post-Covid-19 Society” is funded by the British Academy (SRG22/220726).