Course overview



This in-person course will provide an overview of Community Music, introducing you to the key ethics and practices. We’ll explore educational and therapeutic contexts including schools, hospitals and care homes, as well as investigating the skills and understanding needed to follow a profession in these rewarding areas.

To avoid disappointment, please book your place on the course 72 hours prior to its commencement.

Community Music is an inclusive and participatory approach to music that works towards musical, personal and social outcomes. This can operate both therapeutically and educationally, but Community Music has its own rich history and culture. Our portfolio of Community Music Short Courses builds on thirty years of Community Music training at Goldsmiths, and offers a broad range of general and more specifically focussed courses. We will explore the three core contexts in the field of Community Music Practice:

Community Musicians work with young and older people especially those who face a wide range of life challenges – using music as an effective tool to combat illness, disability, isolation, education difficulties, behavioural problems, offending and many more issues. Taking part in meaningful group or individual activities is increasingly evidenced as a positive and productive way to overcome such challenges and to help provide resilience, empowerment, improved mood, creative expression, better communication and other benefits.

We will explore the three core contexts in the field of Community Music Practice:

  • Educational – the landscape of Music education is changing fast demanding new skills and understanding whether in the formal or non-formal sectors.
  • Community – the breadth of practices and opportunities in Community Music continue to grow as the field develops and adapts to a changing world.
  • Therapeutic – increasingly the therapeutic benefits of music are being understood and many musicians are looking for ways to effectively access and measure these outcomes.

This course is aimed at a range of different participants, including:

  • youth workers who would like to develop this skillset
  • music leaders already practising in the field
  • music graduates and other musicians who would like to explore additional ways to utilise their skills and passions
  • music service tutors, music teachers, and teaching assistants
  • parents and carers

Community Music Practice can take many forms: singing in a choir; making beats on a computer; improvising as a group; exploring technology as a means to self-expression; songwriting; soundscape work; and more. Each different way of engaging with music can have personal, social and collective benefits. To gain the greatest benefit interactions need to be led by people with a range of musical, communication and other skills, as well as an understanding of the context, and the people you are working with. These workshops will enable you to reflect on and develop your own skillset, as well as providing a range of activity tools that can facilitate participatory music sessions.

No formal skill level is required but to gain the most out of this workshop, we would expect you to possess a good level of either formal or informal music experience.

Why Study this Course

  • Gain an understanding of the philosophies, ethics, and practice of different participatory music approaches.
  • Experience a range of exciting and engaging music-making activities that you can take into your own practice.
  • Reflect on and develop your own musical leadership skills in a safe supported environment.
  • Learn how to plan and deliver creative music sessions to bring maximum benefits to participants regardless of their abilities.
  • Explore how to measure the effectiveness of musical interactions, maximise their benefits, and enable sustained work.



Goldsmiths offers a 15% concession rate on short courses to Lewisham Local cardholders, Students and Goldsmiths Alumni. Please email for further information.

Booking information

Please note our short courses sell out quickly, so early booking is advisable.


Goldsmiths Campus


If you have any questions about this course please contact shortcourses (

For information on our upcoming short courses please sign up to our mailing list.

Disability Support

We are committed to providing reasonable teaching adjustments for students with disabilities that may impact on their learning experience. If you require adjustments, please complete the relevant section on the booking form and also contact us at shortcourses ( so we can respond to your requests as soon as possible. 

Tutor information

Tutor Graham Dowdall

Graham Dowdall

Graham is a highly experienced Musician, Community Musician and Trainer with a portfolio career that includes performing across the globe, running face to face workshops with young people, training others to do so and teaching at Goldsmiths. After studying Music Workshop Skills at Goldsmiths in the early nineties Graham has become one of the leading practitioners in the UK Community Music scene. He is a specialist in working with young people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties and so-called hard to reach young people. He regularly runs training in these areas for numerous Music Hubs as well as organisations like Sound ConnectionsDrake MusicLive Music Now and many more. He is also a board member of Soundsense (the national organisation for Community Music) and regularly presents at conferences in the field. 


Learning outcomes

At the end of this course you will have gained:

  • A greater understanding of the principles and ethics of participatory music making
  • Recognition of your existing skills and interests and where these can be applied
  • An understanding of the practice of facilitating, teaching and enabling music with groups and individuals
  • An understanding of the benefits of inclusive music making and how to access these.
  • An overview of the range of contexts where participatory music is used and the demands of these contexts

About the department

Our STACS Department at Goldsmiths has a rich and vibrant history. We are especially proud of our longstanding commitment to addressing issues of social injustice. Situated in New Cross, in the borough of Lewisham in South-East London we are uniquely placed to tackle the questions that arise in this area, in a local and wider context. For twenty five years we were the home of the renowned Music Workshop Skills course and this field is still part of the STACS portfolio of study.

The activities of our Department are underpinned by an exciting and dynamic research culture which employs a range of methodologies to critically analyse policy and practice in our professional disciplines. We believe that, in choosing to study with us, you will greatly benefit from the wealth of experience of our staff and their commitment to ensuring that you will leave us as a reflective, research minded professional.

In 2016 we held an Art Therapy Conference, which explored the longstanding relationship between Art and Therapy, which has a strong interdisciplinary tradition at Goldsmiths. Speakers at the event included Turner Prize winning artist, Grayson Perry, and esteemed Psychoanalyst, Patrick Casement.

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